Jon Zaturn, known to everyone as “Coach Z”, was such a source of advice and inspiration that even players from opposing teams turned to him for help.
Zaturn has coached hundreds of players during his 40 years of volunteering with the Suffolk County Police Athletic League, an organization that focuses on juvenile crime prevention and recreational programs. Zaturn has served the Suffolk PAL in a variety of roles and has been the Director of Baseball since 2005.
“Coach Z has turned kids into young men,” said Don Yorie, a retired Suffolk County police officer who serves Suffolk PAL as director of development. “He took the time after games to talk to players on all teams, explaining the intricacies of the game. And the kids soaked in all that knowledge. He wanted his players to aspire to reach their potential, but he also wanted more. that everything so that they are positive models in their communities.
Zaturn died of an aortic aneurysm at his Holbrook home on September 22, his son Jon Zaturn Jr. of Phoenix said. He was 69 years old.
“Coach Z was a great teacher not only of baseball but also of life,” said Aidan Larkin of Huntington, a junior infielder from Hofstra University. “His tough, rough personality made him super sympathetic with people who like to work hard to get things done. He was a player’s coach, providing support in times of difficulty, but also humiliating his players in the event. of need. He loved to win and hated to lose. “
Zaturn was born in Queens on January 31, 1952. His family moved to Long Island soon after, and he graduated from Commack North High School in 1970. He played football and wrestled for school. The two-way lineman was known for his physique.
“My dad was a down-to-earth guy,” said Zaturn Jr .. “He was upfront with everyone whether they like it or not. He had a heart of gold and was a compassionate guy. He believed in honesty. , loyalty and doing the right thing. He had high expectations of people, especially his family and the baseball players. “
After high school, the elder Zaturn worked on the unloading truck receiving dock at Beck / Arnley WorldParts, a company that sold foreign and domestic auto parts. He quickly moved to a supervisory position and remained with the company from 1971 to 2005, when he retired.
“The company made him warehouse manager and then operations manager, overseeing several hundred people,” Zaturn Jr. said. “They flew him to other locations in Nashville and Oakland for turn things around. He could assess a problem and solve it. That’s what made him invaluable in the business world and on the baseball field. “
Elder Zaturn led the nationally recognized PAL Rangers at the 14-year-old level from 1999 to 2015, winning 442 games and 53 tournament titles in 17 years.
“I was the PAL baseball program coordinator when Coach Z got involved in 1981,” Yorie said. “Here is that type of gruff, rough business with a softer side that could teach and mentor youngsters. He connected with the players and their parents. He took this 14-year-old team across the country and during on those road trips he taught them how to behave in restaurants, how to dress, how to keep their rooms clean and how to act responsibly. It was all the fundamentals for success in life. He taught them responsibility and accountability. “
Zaturn joined the Suffolk PAL Baseball Board of Directors in 1989 and was elected President in 2005. He was Director of the PAL Complex in Holbrook. He was responsible for the maintenance of three multi-use fields and five baseball / softball fields.
“Jon was dedicated to the children and loyal to PAL and our mission to serve the youth of Suffolk County,” said George Waldbauer, Director of Suffolk PAL. “He cared about the PAL complex like no one ever cared. He protected the grounds as if they were his own. He coached my grandson. I was honored that Ryan discovered the game and life at through Jon’s words and actions. “
Former PAL Rangers player Andruw Gazzola, who played baseball at Stony Brook University, summed up his experience.
“Coach Z treated all of his players like family and left an undying impact on us all,” said Gazzola. “He helped me get through a difficult time in my life. I am always grateful that I had the opportunity to learn the game that I love, from such an exceptional person.”
Besides his son, Zaturn is survived by another son, Richard Zaturn of Patchogue; Brother Andrew Zaturn of Ronkonkoma and Sister Debra Saunders of Northern Tilson State; and six grandchildren.