There are many former Major Leaguers that have received more praise and notoriety than Jay Loviglio.
The East Islip native is just fine with that.
The man who has been involved with every level of baseball has seen just about everything. He’s just not a fan of telling everyone about it.
In fact, even the man who hired him for his current role as hitting instructor for the LI Black Diamonds only found about his credentials from a Google search after running into him while he was working at PC Richards & Sons.
Don’t let the modesty fool you, though, Loviglio has all the traits of a baseball lifer.
After graduating from East Islip HS in 1974, he attended Suffolk Community College due to an error by the admissions department at LIU Brooklyn. Despite attending classes for the entire fall, the professors admitted they had no clue who he was and had no record of him being on their class roster.
He wound up playing at Suffolk, where he was a freshman All-American. Upon the completion of his sophomore season, he was invited to a Philadelphia Phillies tryout at Eisenhower Park which led to him signing and being assigned to the Auburn Phillies of the New York Penn League.
Loviglio worked his way up the system and wound up being called up to the big leagues in 1980–the season in which the Phillies won their first World Series in franchise history. He had the opportunity to play with players like Pete Rose, Steve Carlton and Larry Bowa, He appeared in 16 games that season, being used primarily as a pinch-runner in the late innings for guys like Greg Luzinski and scoring seven runs along the way.
“That’s how I learned the game,” he said. “Playing with guys like Pete Rose and Larry Bowa. They were tremendous with the rookies and the younger guys. They played a hard-nosed style of baseball; breaking up double plays and things like that,” he added.
Loviglio wound up being traded to the Chicago White Sox in 1981, where he played for the next two years before being sold to the crosstown Chicago Cubs in 1983.
After his playing career ended, he got his first coaching job with the Cubs rookie ball team in 1986, which he noted provided him a new perspective on the game.
“Now I was seeing player development from the other side of things,” he said.
Along the way, he was able to coach several players who went on to have illustrious careers either as a player or coach. One of the more noteworthy ones was Joe Girardi, whom he noted has “all kinds of respect for the game.”
He went on to coach several other teams at the A-ball level. He stated that teams generally prefer to have veteran coaches at the lower levels being that the game is more about player development than results at that level and it is the manager’s responsibility to prepare them for the next level.
“I really tried to teach the mental aspect of the game. You’re gonna fail, you have to get through it. You might have a stretch where you go 9-for-15, and then you might follow that with an 0-for-15, and you have to be the same guy. Body language has to be even-keel. Everybody in that dugout is in it together and they are all trying to make a living.”
There were times he felt especially critical to the organization’s direction when a trade involved a player at the lower-level and the General Manager would ask for his opinion on a particular player. An example of this was when he was coaching in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and he recommended that they trade for an unknown player at the time, Jason Bay.
They wound up acquiring Bay, who was a two-time All-Star for the Pirates that hit 114 home runs and drove in 376 over four seasons.
“It feels good to be included in that,” he said of the trade.
Loviglio wound up with the Long Island Ducks as a hitting instructor on Buddy Harrelson‘s coaching staff. He was interested in becoming the manager, but the job ultimately went to Kevin Baez.
After that stint, he was the Head Coach of Islip HS from 2012 to 2015.
Now as the hitting instructor for the LI Black Diamonds, he is still heavily involved in the Long Island baseball scene. He admitted it is shocking that some of the top hitters from the region are consistently overlooked in the draft, despite possessing all the requisite abilities.
He pointed out players like Jimmy Joyce and Kyle Strovink as players that he felt warranted being drafted.
“If he [Joyce] put on a uniform and stepped onto the field in 1986 where I was managing rookie ball, I would’ve thought he was a second or third overall pick. The kid is 6’0 205 lbs and has all the ability. He is an athlete, he made that outstanding interception that wound up on Sportscenter last year.”
Regarding Strovink he said, “he can drive the ball from foul line to foul line and has a cannon behind the plate. I’m really surprised nobody picked him up.”
Even so, Loviglio is working on getting a number of other players prepared to play at the next level. He is especially high on West Islip ’18 outfielder Jake Guercio, who he’s known since he was 12 and commended him on his ability and work ethic.
It may take years for Long Island hitters to gain the proper respect they earn, but with hitting coaches like Loviglio, that day may come sooner rather than later.