Emilio John “EJ” Leone was expected to be a top-tier contributor for the defending state champion St. Mary’s High School (Lynn) baseball team this spring. With an 85 MPH fastball and natural athletic talents that extend all the way back to his days in Revere Youth Baseball, Leone had designs on being the ace of the Spartans’ pitching staff.
But the COVID-19 pandemic ended all dreams of an eye-opening senior season for Leone and another state title run for his new team.
“I was looking forward to playing baseball for St. Mary’s High School this spring and helping the team compete for a championship,” said Leone. “Coach [Derek] Dana has a built a great program and I know that he was an incredible baseball player (Dana played baseball at Division 1 UMass/Amherst and in the San Francisco Giants organization). I was excited about the season. I wish all the coaches and players success in the future and my classmates the best of luck in college.”
The good news is that Leone, a 6-foot-1-inch right-hander, will be returning to the diamond at the next level. EJ has announced that he will be playing baseball at Johnson & Wales University in Providence.
Leone caught the attention of Johnson & Wales staff at the Lynn Baseball Invitational last summer at Fraser Field in Lynn.
“I had a few colleges (AIC, Nichols, and St. Joseph of Maine) reach out to me and Johnson and Wales happened to be one of them,” said Leone. “They arranged a visit and I just loved the campus and everything about the school.”
A multi-sport athlete
EJ began his high school career at St. Mary’s, played sports at Revere High for his sophomore and junior years, and then transferred to St. Mary’s for his senior year after his family moved to Peabody.
During this past winter, he had a noteworthy season for the St. Mary’s indoor track team, qualifying for the states in the 300 meters and as the anchor of the 4 X 400-meter relay team.
EJ said he enjoyed his years in the RHS athletic program, becoming a starting forward for the basketball team and a shortstop and pitcher for the baseball team. “Coach [David] Leary is a very good basketball coach and I have a lot of good things to say about him,” said Leone. “And baseball was a good experience, too, with Coach [Mike] Manning.”
Following his dad’s
path to college baseball
EJ Leone was a multi-year All-Star in Revere Youth Baseball and blasted a number of home runs out of the field at Griswold Park. He excelled in the Revere Parks and Recreational basketball league and as a member of the Immaculate Conception seventh-and-eight-grade basketball team.
The son of Emilio Joseph “EJ” Leone and Josephine Leone, EJ is will be following in his father’s footsteps as a college pitcher in the state of Rhode Island. After a stellar career at RHS for Coach Al Blasi, Emilio Joseph went on to play at Division 1 University of Rhode Island. In fact, Emilio’s URI teammate, Raphael Cerrato, is the current URI head baseball coach. EJ’s uncle, John Leone, played college basketball at Merrimack.
EJ said he is grateful to his parents for encouraging him to enter sports leagues at a young age and stressing the importance of academics.
“I give my parents all the credit in the world and I love them,” said EJ. “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am, have the grades that I do, or be the man that I am.”
EJ has a great role model in his older sister, Vanessa Leone, an RHS graduate and former volleyball player, who is graduating from Bryant University with a degree in Data Analytics.
On to college
EJ will be living in a residence hall on the Johnson & Wales main campus and taking the shuttle to the Harborside campus for baseball practices.
Johnson & Wales is known for its incomparable culinary arts program. “Everybody asks me if I’m going to study culinary arts, but I’m going to study in their engineering program – the school just opened a new, state-of-the-art engineering building two years ago and I want to major in Cyber Security,” said Leone. “But I might take some culinary classes for my electives. Their culinary arts building is all-glass and it’s beautiful.”
Johnson & Wales plays baseball in the Great North Atlantic Conference (GNAC). The Wildcats play St. Joseph of Maine and Massachusetts colleges such as Suffolk and Emmanuel.
Interestingly, Johnson & Wales lost to St. Joseph in the 2019 GNAC championship game at Lynn’s Fraser Field (“Ironically that’s the field where I became a recruit for Johnson & Wales,” related Leone).
Here’s hoping that EJ Leone will return to Fraser Field with the Johnson & Wales baseball team in 2021 and lead the Wildcats to the GNAC title.