"Celebration of Life" for Joe Zavattaro set for Saturday, October 5th

"Celebration of Life" for Joe Zavattaro set for Saturday, October 5th

North Adams, MA- MCLA and the surrounding Berkshire County community will come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Joseph Zavattaro on Saturday, October 5, 2019.  Joseph Zavattaro Jr. passed away July 24th in Naples, FL at the age of 86. 

Alumni and friends will gather to honor "Coach Z" and remember his legacy. A funeral service will be held at 12:00 p.m. at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in North Adams, MA. A Celebration of Life will follow at 2:00 p.m. on the College campus in the Amsler Campus Center Gym. Light refreshments will be served. 

Because we expect many to return to North Adams, advance RSVPs are requested online or by phone to 413-662-5224. 

Born in Pittsfield, in 1933, Zavattaro became one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Berkshire County.  After graduating from Pittsfield High School, where he starred and lettered in baseball, basketball and football he was signed to a professional baseball contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Working his way up the minor league ladder, he would be known as an outstanding catcher with major league defensive and hitting skills.  An injury forced him to retire after reaching the Triple A level.  He would go back to North Adams State where he would star in baseball and basketball.  He graduated with a master's degree, then would embark on a legendary coaching career, one that would prove to be exemplary to coaches not only in New England but around the country.

As baseball coach and athletic director, he would go onto serve in these roles for 31 years at North Adams Sate College.  He also coached highly successful basketball teams.  Coach Zav's popularity in Berkshire County and throughout New England College Athletics was iconic and the impact that he made on players was astounding.  During his coaching tenure at NASC, he saw an abundance of his players sign professional baseball contracts and be honored with numerous All-Conference, All-New England and All-American selections.  His teams would go onto win (11) Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) titles and be invited to the ECAC and NCAA Tournaments countless times.  He  also coached internationally in Italy in 1982.  Coach Zav would amass an amazing 493 wins during his baseball coaching career at his alma mater and would later reach the 500-win milestone while coaching at American International College (AIC) in Springfield.  For his coaching prowess, Coach Zav was elected into The New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Hall of Fame in 2017 and the MASCAC Hall of Fame last year.  He was also a member of The Pittsfield UNICO Hall of Fame and National UNICO Hall of Fame as well as The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Athletics Hall of Fame both as a player and coach.  Throughout his wonderful career, Coach Zav would always remain the model of humility and exemplified it to perfection.  

His athletic director's career was equally impressive to his coaching role as he oversaw the building of the NASC Athletics Complex in 1975.  In a fitting tribute years later, The Complex would appropriately be named after him.  Coach Zav's immense popularity among his peers led to him being selected to a number of national committees where he served in the capacity of Chair or President.

A man with a huge, giving and generous heart, he devoted a great deal of his time in retirement to many charitable organizations to include, The Berkshire County Jimmy Fund, The Pittsfield UNICO and to The Make-A-Wish Foundation.  He was also a long-time member of the Italian American Club in Pittsfield and The Sons of Italy, ITAM Lodge #564.  Coach Zav is survived by his wife Sharron of Naples, FL, two sons, Keith and Steven and his wife Gayle, grandchildren Nathan and Matthew, a great-grandson, a niece Kathy Carmel of Pittsfield and two great nieces.  

If you wish to contribute photos or a short message or video tribute, please submit videos and photos here and written tributes here no later than September 22nd.   Questions regarding the celebration should be directed to Jeff Puleri, Assistant Athletics Director, at (413) 662-5403 or via email at j.puleri@mcla.edu