THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Tuesday, June 6, 1995 TAG: 9506060551 SECTION: SPORTS PAGE: C1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY TOM ROBINSON, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: RICHMOND LENGTH: Medium: 87 lines
An outfielder for tonight's visiting team at Harbor Park was a starting linebacker in high school, then switched sports and batted a record .550 at last summer's Olympic Festival.
Yeah, that Angie Marzetta can hit, in more ways than one.
``I'd always played tackle football in the sandlots with my brothers,'' said Marzetta, a former Virginia Beach resident and rookie member of the Colorado Silver Bullets women's baseball team. ``My freshman year I was the manager of the football team, and I just said, `I can do this.' I have to admit it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. It's different once you put on pads. It hurts.''
As a sophomore, Marzetta became the first girl to play football at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Cal., one of the many stops her Navy family made following around her father, retired Captain Dante Marzetta.
Angie Marzetta was born in Virginia Beach, left soon after and returned to the Kings Grant neighborhood from ages 7-10 and 12-14.
Marzetta wound up as a high school softball star in Seattle. That led to success at Central Arizona College, the University of Washington, where she was a third-team All-American, and the Olympic Festival. It also paved her way to a tryout for the Silver Bullets last summer.
``I can remember being in the kitchen and my then-boyfriend was watching TV and said, `Hey Angie, come in here. There's girls playing baseball.' There was Phil Niekro talking about how they were starting up this baseball team. And I thought, `I can do that.' ''
So Marzetta attended one of the tryouts the Silver Bullets held during their inaugural season.
Just as they would for men, Niekro, the Bullets' manager and former major league pitcher, and his staff put the women through brief but telling drills, searching for athletic tools.
Each player fielded four ground balls at shortstop and threw to first, and each got to sprint 90 feet. Off her showing, Marzetta was invited to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., where 51 hopefuls were whittled to a final 24.
``Right off the bat you could tell she had played the game and been around it a lot,'' said Bullets coach Johnny Grubb, an ex-big league outfielder from Richmond. ``She had pretty good baseball knowledge, especially with hitting. She's one of those girls who came in that we didn't know much about. But we had her name on this list and her name kept moving up.''
Marzetta is a 5-foot-5, 141-pound switch-hitter. At 22, she is the third-youngest player and the one who will miss her college graduation ceremony Saturday. She completed her degrees in media and politics - she hopes to work in broadcasting - by correspondence as she pursued her baseball fantasy.
``Sometimes I got so physically tired that I didn't want to study or turn in my homework, but you have to make yourself do those things,'' Marzetta said. ``Because you can't play baseball forever, that's for sure. And it's not like I can retire on this year's salary, either.''
Like all first-year Bullets, Marzetta will make $20,000 for the 50-game season that began May 7. Tonight's game at Harbor Park, the Silver Bullets' first visit to Norfolk, is against a Navy team mostly from the Enterprise, Dante Marzetta's old ship.
On a 2-8 team that is batting .133, Marzetta is 1 for 12 (.083) with two RBIs, a lack of success that nags at her.
``Sometimes I get frustrated,'' she said. ``I think a lot of these girls get frustrated. You've got to understand; right here in women's sports, we are the cream of the crop. We're not used to losing, not used to doing poorly. These girls are used to being the best and being winners.
``I can never temper my expectations because I'm playing against men. I go out to beat these guys, not because they're men but because they're competing against me.''
Beyond the field, too, Marzetta is eating up the trappings of Bullet-hood. At Saturday's game in Richmond, Marzetta stood on the dugout steps during a rain delay and signed every cap, ball and program tossed to her.
``It makes me smile when I sign an autograph for a little boy, because that never would have happened a few years ago,'' Marzetta said. ``For little girls, we can be role models. For boys, we can change their idea of what women are. Adults, the same thing.
``I like changing ideas of what women are supposed to do. I like being the first woman to do things. It doesn't bother me if somebody comes along and can do it better. I like making beginnings, being a pioneer.'' ILLUSTRATION: Color photo