Tom Zerucha

 

1953 - 2010

The Renegades team and the SFGSL community lost a fiercely loyal member when Tom Zerucha passed away in early August at the age of 57. A native of Ohio, Zerucha attended Ohio State University. As a San Francisco resident, he was a middle school teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Tom was a star pitcher, first baseman, and power hitter for the Renegades from 2000 through 2010, and helped guide the team through numerous division and league championships. In the early part of the decade, the Renegades went to three consecutive NAGAA GSL World Series tournaments -- placing third in Portland in 2003.

He was also a notable member of  World Series' in Toronto in 2000 and in San Francisco in 2001. He was a key contributor to numerous tournaments in which the Renegades competed, including Russian River, Phoenix, Palm Springs, San Jose and the Golden Bear Classic here in the Bay Area. In addition, The Metro Cuzzins often picked up Tom for their tournament teams.

Tom won several team MVP awards during his GSL career. For a number of years he was, remarkably, the Renegades' only pitcher. There were a few seasons where he threw every pitch in every inning of every game, including practice, regular season and post-season games.

Tom's dedication was also apparent in his unwavering loyalty to the team's sponsors, including The Cinch, The Rawhide, Trax, Connections, Twin Peaks, The Pendulum and Marlena's. He attended nearly every function and fundraiser hosted by the sponsors, while also lending his support and spirit at the bar after each game. Tom served as the team's unofficial ambassador to the Renegades.

He was forever thankful and gracious to the fans and followers of the Renegades. At times he volunteered to represent his team at league meetings, often providing a diplomatic voice for such issues as player ratings, playoff and tournament formats, and GSL rules. 

Zerucha often credited his mentor and great friend, the late Jack "Irene" McGowan, for his involvement and success in the GSL. He played for Jack, who co-founded the GSL, for all of his ten years in the league. In a 2005 letter to his players, after a difficult playoff loss, McGowan said of Tom: “Volatile and aggressive you are! Loyal and dependable you are! You are in fact the mainstay on The Renegades. Thank you for six years of fight and spirit.” Tom was instrumental in keeping the Renegades team together for his entire 10 years in the league, particularly in these last few years.

Tom's trademark pitching style was best described by one of his teammates: “Standing at first base, I got a different angle of Tom pitching...on the mound poised for action, his little squat before his wind-up, his timing sequence before delivering a pitch and his ballerina-like delivery of the pitch was truly poetry in motion.”

He played courageously through shoulder and back problems, at one point without the ability to throw over handed. As teammates, we marveled at his bulldogged dedication, perseverance and passion for the sport. 

A trademark on-field gesture of Tom's was his willingness to thank his teammates (and on occasion his opponents!) after making a fine defensive play. This did not go unnoticed by everyone on the field, and was a testament to his sportsmanship, win or lose.



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