KSU pitcher following in father’s path

Nate Stuart

Kent State pitcher J.J. Pacella comes from a distinguished baseball pedigree.

John Pacella, J.J.’s father, pitched in the Major Leagues for the Mets, Yankees, Twins, Orioles and Tigers. He also bounced around the minor leagues. He is most known for throwing pitches so hard that his hat fell off during his delivery.

Pacella, a senior, recently revived his role in the Flashes’ bullpen.

“I started the year as the ace, but after bouncing around for a bit, I’m in the bullpen now,” Pacella said. “Right now, I’m on track. I haven’t been in the bullpen for a couple years, but it happened to work out. I can really let it go. I can give 100 percent off the bat and not worry about wearing myself out.”

Pacella’s trademark pitch is a split-finger fastball, which his dad taught him.

“It saved years at the end of his career,” Pacella said.

The split-finger is known to wear out elbows, but Pacella said the pitch doesn’t bother him at all.

Pacella, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, has aspirations of becoming a major leaguer just like his dad, and his dad definitely believes in him.

“J.J. has the mentality of a major league pitcher,” John said in his Brooklyn accent. “If someone gives him an opportunity, they’ll be real surprised. We’re very similar in our delivery, but he has the potential to throw even harder than me.”

John said he was very cautious about pushing his son because he didn’t want him to feel like he had to play baseball.

“I’m very proud of him,” John said. “Since he was 10, he’s put a lot of hard work into baseball. It’s never easy to have an ex-major leaguer dad, but he has really risen to the occasion. It is exciting for me, and he has done a great job of getting better each year.”

Pacella gives a lot of credit to his dad for his success.

“Since I was a kid, he has helped me keep my goals in perspective. It has been such a benefit,” he said. “My dad was a great teacher.”

Pacella said he thinks he stands an excellent shot at playing professional baseball. He doesn’t care where he gets his shot, as long as he’s playing. But he will always be able to look to his father for inspiration.

“Yeah, you could say we’re pretty similar,” Pacella said of his father. “We’re a lot alike.”

Contact sports reporter Nate Stuart at [email protected].