As one of Long Island’s winningest high school baseball coaches, Carmine Argenziano earned a reputation as a disciplinarian. He expected players to “do the simple things perfect.”
Argenziano’s style of tough love turned the Deer Park baseball program into a long-time powerhouse.
“He was an old-school disciplinarian who knew how to get the best out of you,” said former major league pitcher Joe Valentine, who graduated from Deer Park in 1997. “Coach was a mentor, confidant, motivator and father figure. He encapsulated it all.”
Argenziano, of Islip, who had dementia for the past three years and lived at the Bristal Assisted Living facility in Sayville, tested positive for COVID-19 at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore on April 19. He died at the age of 74 early Saturday morning.
“My dad battled the COVID-19, but his fevers were out of control,” said Ryan Argenziano of Sayville, the current baseball coach at Deer Park. “It’s amazing how many lives he’s impacted. Our family is blessed with so many great memories.”
Argenziano, who was born in Avellino, Italy, in 1945, came to New York City on the Conte Biancamano ocean liner in 1955. “I’ll never forget when he took us back to his homeland of Avellino and where he used to play soccer and baseball on the cobblestone streets,” Ryan Argenziano said. “He was so proud.”
Argenziano was part of the first graduating class of Deer Park High School in 1964. He played football at Central Missouri State and graduated in 1968.
Argenziano met Barbara Boss of Deer Park in 1959 at a Valentine’s Day dance. It was love at first sight and they were married in 1969. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary July 4.
“I loved his accent and good looks,” his wife said. “He picked up English quickly. But he was really lucky to be with Italian- speaking teachers when he started his teaching career in Deer Park — that was a blessing.”
Argenziano taught physical education for 36 years, retiring in 2005. He coached baseball for 30 years and compiled a career record of 474-221 for a .682 winning percentage. His teams won 10 league titles, three Suffolk crowns and three Long Island championships in 1980, 1997 and 2004.
“I loved playing against him and his teams,” said long-time Lindenhurst baseball coach Mike Canobbio. “I felt like I learned something about the game every time we played. He was a tactician.”
Argenziano also was an assistant football coach at East Islip for 18 years and Deer Park for six. His impact went beyond the field.
“He had us run the bases after every practice,” said Frank Vertullo, a 1997 Deer Park graduate who has coached men's soccer at Queens College for 19 years. “He focused on the basic fundamentals and doing them absolutely perfect. We had to run the bases perfectly, have the right angle and make the right turn. He believed the simplest of things, like bunting and pickoff throws, would also impact the game. He influenced the way I coach. I wanted to emulate his style.”
The Deer Park School District honored him in May 2019, renaming the varsity baseball field ‘Carmine Argenziano Baseball Field.’
“This man meant everything to me,” Valentine said. “He was a believer in me. He saw things in me I never imagined could be real.”
Vertullo added, “His influence can never fully be measured. His expectations of excellence, his fire and his ability to get the best out of each player is what truly made him special. It’s funny, his tenacity could scare the hell out of you, and his smile could light up the room.”
He also is survived by another son, Michael Argenziano of Sayville; a daughter, Lisa Dieumegard of Islip; two sisters, Lena Alinovi of Deer Park and Amelia Barone of Deer Park, and nine grandchildren.