By Cary Shuman
Andrew Moccia’s considerable baseball talents have always caused him to play at a level higher than his age division, dating back to his days as a Wyoma Little Leaguer when he earned a spot on the 12-year-old All-Star team as an 11-year-old.
At Lynn Classical High School, Moccia secured a starting position as a freshman on the varsity baseball team. Coach Mike Zukowski has shown confidence in his abilities ever since and this spring Moccia will begin his fourth and final season as the starting shortstop.
Moccia, 18, has already received an opportunity to play baseball at the next level. The Classical senior signed a letter of intent to attend Assumption College in Worcester during a ceremony Monday in the offices of Classical Principal Gene Constantino.
“I visited the school and it felt like a great fit for me,” said Moccia. “I like the coach, the campus, the facilities, the environment.”
Moccia, a rugged 6-foot, 225-pound athlete who also competes in the shot put for the Classical track team, no doubt impressed Assumption officials with his sterling academic credentials as well. Moccia is ranked No. 19 academically in the LCHS Class of 2017.
It was very fitting that Steve and Susan Moccia flanked their son as he made it official that he will continuing his baseball career at Assumption. Mr. Moccia was Andrew’s coach for many seasons, stretching from Wyoma T-Ball through Greater Lynn Babe Ruth.
Andrew certainly learned how to win as his Wyoma Major League Rangers team, managed by his father, won back-to-back Lynn City Series championships. The father-son combination continued on three Greater Lynn Babe Ruth All-Star teams, coming within one win of a state championship in Andrew’s 15-year-old season in the program.
Andrew is grateful to his father for teaching him how to how play baseball, to love and respect the game, and for inspiring him to work hard and pursue excellence.
“My father was a great role model to have as a coach growing up,” said Andrew. “He taught me how to play baseball. From T-Ball through Babe Ruth, he was my coach. I’m very grateful to my parents and I am happy where I am today because of them.”
Andrew also thanked Classical coach Mike Zukowski. “He’s a great coach. I’ve had him as my coach all four years. I’m excited about this season. I think we’re going to have a great year.”
Moccia and three other talented seniors, Herbie Newton, Matt Lauria, and Tyler Way, set a strong foundation for the Rams to make a run for the NEC championship and in the State Tournament.
College baseball was always a goal. “I’ve always wanted to play in college,” said Moccia. I’ve always had a passion for baseball. I feel I can compete at the next level.”
Moccia also considered Saint Joseph’s College in Maine, Suffolk, and Hartford, before deciding on Assumption.
Athletic director Bill Devin, who played college baseball at North Adams State, said Andrew can take pride in his status as a four-year varsity player.
“Not many kids can say that they were a starter in a varsity sport for all four years,” lauded Devin. “I think the Northeastern Conference is very competitive and that helped in Andrew’s development. He will do very well in baseball but the part that separates Andrew from many others is his academic excellence. Andrew had many options for college because of his success in the classroom. Assumption is not only getting a good baseball player, but they’re getting a quality person. I tip my cap to Andrew and his family. He’ll do very well in college.”
Constantino, who once coached a 20-0 Classical girls basketball team, also offered his congratulations to Andrew.
“Andrew is a great role model for the student body and we’re all very proud of his academics and athletics,” said Constantino. “It’s a pleasure to have kids of Andrew’s caliber at Classical. The younger kids look up to him and baseball wise, he’s outstanding. I look forward to Andrew and the seniors leading our baseball team this spring.”
For Steve and Susan Moccia, they’ll have one more season of short trips to Fraser Field before their schedule involves journeys to college baseball fields throughout New England.
“Andrew has continued to progress from Babe Ruth to Classical baseball – I let him go once he got into high school,” said Mr. Moccia, smiling. “Classical has a great coaching staff and they took over after Andrew entered high school baseball. I’m proud of his academics. He’s humble about his success but when you see his report card and get the feedback from his teachers, it’s a great feeling.”
Added Susan Moccia, “I’m a very proud mother of Andrew. He’s always been a great child.”