WOODSVILLE - Dr. John Albert Bagonzi, Jr., 83, of Woodsville, passed away on Feb. 13, 2014.
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Born in 1930 to John Bagonzi and Ida (Maccini) Bagonzi, John attended Woodsville High School where he teamed with lifelong friend, former Red Sox pitcher Bob Smith, as a notorious pitching duo. While at WHS, he was a 20-game winner and multi-sport All-State athlete.
John attended the University of New Hampshire, where he earned a B.S. degree in biology and was a standout baseball and basketball athlete, with many of his records still standing today.
While at UNH, John was regarded as the top collegiate pitching prospect in New England and scouted by all major league teams. John signed a bonus contract with the Red Sox in 1953 and was assigned to their San Francisco AAA affiliate.
Next came a military service interruption where, as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, John served as company commander, military trial counsel and athletic and recreation officer. While in the military, he pitched for two years in the strong Fort Jackson Regimental baseball league.
It was during this time that John met and married his cherished, lifelong companion, the former Dreamer Jewel Deese of Columbia, S.C. After his service, John returned to professional baseball, with the Corning Red Sox and Chicago Cubs organizations, where an arm injury ended his professional career. By this time, he had completed his master's degree at Indiana University and begun to pursue his Ph.D.
At this point, John returned to Woodsville where he would make his greatest impact, beginning a teaching and coaching career at Woodsville High School. While at his Alma Mater, John served as athletic director, PE director, biology teacher, baseball, basketball, soccer and cross-country coach. John also served as Woodsville's Youth Recreation Program director for 25 years.
As an educator, Dr. Bagonzi achieved Teacher-of-the-Year honors as well as being recognized as an outstanding academician.
In athletics, his true passion, John became one of the most successful New Hampshire coaches ever. Between 1959 and 1977, he oversaw 13 combined championship teams and seven runners-up.
There was even a cross-country title in 1972. John led the baseball program to 261 victories, seven New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association state titles and a 35-game winning streak. He also was a successful boys' basketball coach, as he led the program to 361 victories, five state championships and a 62-game winning streak. John's basketball teams finished second in the state tournament three times and had 20 consecutive seasons with winning records. On five occasions, Bagonzi led teams in those two sports to state championships during the same school year.
During this time, John also completed his Ph.D. at Indiana University. He was at WHS for 33 years, retiring in 1991 then began a four-year stint as head coach of the Plymouth State University baseball team and taught in their graduate school. John and Dreamer were also proprietors of the Italian-American Bagonzi's Restaurant, a popular Woodsville eatery started by his mother, for 27 years, from which both retired.
After "retirement," John continued to mentor athletes throughout the Northeast via his Championship Pitching Clinics, as a nationally recognized pitching clinician/instructor, through his books, "The Act of Pitching" and "The Inner Sanctum," numerous articles in prominent baseball journals, and his popular website http://pitchingprofessor.com/.
Coach Bagonzi was a sought-after nationwide motivational speaker and pitching instructor and was selected as one of the Top 50 sports figures in New Hampshire for the past century by the Boston Globe. With recognition and accolades too numerous to list, he was most proud of his induction into the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Assn. Hall of Fame, the University of New Hampshire Athletic Hall of Fame, the New Hampshire Coaches Hall of Fame, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, the Union Leader Coaches Hall of Fame, and the National Federation of State High School Associations' National High School Hall of Fame.
He was touched and humbled by Woodville's renaming of its community building in his honor and took great joy in tracking his pitching protégés' college and professional careers as well as the lifelong visits of his students who transitioned to friends and colleagues. John's most recent project involved completing the "Golden Age" Museum, a collection of his personal and Woodsville athletic memorabilia.
John is survived by his wife, Dreamer of Woodsville; and their three children, John III (wife Elizabeth) of Falmouth, Maine, Teresa Godoy (husband Franco) of Newport News, Va., and Robert (wife Jolie) of Bluffton, S.C.; and four grandchildren, Allison, Jack, Jonathan and Gabrielle, whom he cherished dearly.
SERVICES: Calling hours will be on Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Ricker Funeral Home, 1 Birch St., Woodsville. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Thursday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 15 Pine St., Woodsville. Burial in the spring at St. Joseph's Cemetery, Bath. Memorials to Woodsville High School, 9 High St., Woodsville, NH 03785. Condolences may be viewed and left at www.rickerfh.com.
Ricker Funeral Home
Woodsville, NH 03785
Published in Union Leader on Feb. 16, 2014