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Faces of Spring Training: Lynn’s Pazik enjoying Royals’ reign

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Last year was a bit of a whirlwind for Lynn native Mike Pazik and his wife, Susan. Two of their daughters got married and they welcomed the birth of a fourth grandchild.
Pazik being involved in his first full-blown pennant race was only icing on the cake.
?Last year was a blur,” said Pazik last week at Jet Blue Park, the Red Sox spring training home.
?My wife and I look at each other and say, ?Where did that year go?? It was so fast, but exciting. You don?t get to do it much.”
Pazik, who turned 65 in January, is a Major League scout with the Royals ? make that the American League champion Kansas City Royals. The Royals beat the Orioles in the American League Championship Series last fall before falling to the Giants in a seven-game World Series.
In five decades in baseball, it was the first time Pazik got to experience the rush of the playoffs.
?It was really the first playoff run that I?ve really been involved in,” Pazik said. “I?ve talked to (other people in baseball) and say, ?You want to talk about getting pumped up for something?? And they go, ?Yeah, that?s the most exciting part.? And for the Kansas City community, it?s so reinvigorating. I know it was disappointing for the Baltimore people, but it was a lot of fun.”
A 1968 graduate of Lynn English who then attended Holy Cross, Pazik was a first-round pick (13th overall) of the Yankees in 1971. After a 1974 trade, the left-hander pitched for parts of three seasons with the Minnesota Twins until a horrific 1977 car crash ended his playing career. In three starts that season, he was 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA.
That win ? when he went eight innings to beat Oakland, 10-2 ? was the only victory of his Major League career. Hall of Famer Rod Carew went 3 for 5 for the Twins in that game with 4 RBIs.
?That was the most exciting time,” Pazik said. “The only win I got, against Oakland, and talking to my father, just because he always pushed me. He never said, ?You have to do this.? But he always pushed me.
?Talking to him later in life he said, ?I really thought the odds were against you only because of where you were from, because there was no exposure.? Even when I went to Holy Cross, at that time we only played about 16 or 18 games. And the fact that I got to the highest level and won a game, not the actual winning the game but talking to him about it.
?I called him right after, so it was a great moment. It was a great moment for me. It was a great moment for him, because he had such an influence on me. He knew he didn?t really know that much about baseball, but he knew enough to put me with good people.”
He attempted to resume his pitching career after he recovered from the accident, which left him with two broken legs and serious complications. But the damage was too severe, the rehab grueling. So, he moved into coaching and then scouting.
Pazik, who now lives in Bethesda, Md., has been with the Royals since 2002. He began his coaching career in 1980, as a manager and then pitching coach in the White Sox organization. He has also worked for the Rockies, Brewers, and Orioles.
His current job brings him back to the area somewhat frequently. He can scout games at Fenway Park and visit with family. He still has two sisters in Lynn and another in New Hampshire. But he?s learned he can?t just sneak back into the area, like the last-minute trip to Fenway he had to make a few years back. His front-row seat gave him up.
?I don?t even have a ticket for the game,” said Pazik, who found himself sitting two seats down from then-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “Then my phone starts ringing, and I hear my sister go ?It is you!? I said, ?What are you talking about?? My nephew thought he recognized me on TV. But my sister said, ?Oh, he wouldn?t come in without letting us know.? So they called and when they saw me answer my phone on TV, they knew it was me. And I get, “Why didn?t you call?? I didn?t even know I was coming. So I said I?ll drive up tomorro

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