Majestic Majeski; Dave Majeski still loves the challenge

By John Goralski

Sports Writer

It’s been a little more than 25 years since Dave Majeski called John Fontana back to third base after their discussion during a regular season game, but the former high school coach still smiles when he tells the story.

Majeski topped a baseball but beat the throw to first base. On the next pitch, the sophomore stole second. On the following pitch, he stole third. Fontana signaled timeout to talk to his brash underclassman. “I told him to stay put at third base, but he called me back as I walked back to the dugout,” said the coach. “‘What is it?’ I asked.”

Majeski smiled a devilish grin. “Even if it’s a long fly ball for a base hit?”

“That was him. He was a joker, but he was just a great athlete,” said Fontana. “People might dispel this, but he was the only guy—the only guy—that I never put a steal sign out for. I let him decide for himself. I had a lot of good runners, but this kid was something else.”

Majeski remembers their relationship a little differently. Sure, his coach allowed him to run. Why wouldn’t he? Majeski set a single season record as a sophomore in 1985 with 30 stolen bases. He graduated with the program’s career mark with 63 steals, but Majeski doesn’t remember any freedom when he decided to steal. He knew he would always have to explain himself.

“Sure, I had the green light to go haphazardly, but when I’d come into the dugout Coach Fontana and Coach [Joe] Daddio would be there asking me why I went on that pitch,” he said. “They’d tell me if I should have gone on another one. It was such a teaching situation even though I had a green light.”

From the very start, Majeski was known as a student of the game, and Fontana said he would have made a good coach long before he graduated Southington High School. But Majeski wasn’t ready to hang up his glove. He was the rare mix of intensity, talent, and knowledge coupled with a good sense of humor.

The 155 pound fielder might not have turned many heads with his size, but facing him at the plate was like trying to stop a runaway train. He out-thought you. He out-worked you, and he always out-played you.

“Dave Majeski was just an amazing athlete. He could run. He could field, and he had just a hell of an arm from the outfield,” said Fontana. “He was a guy that was so baseball knowledgeable that you never had to tell him anything. If he came up and there were no outs with a man on first and second, you would never have to put a bunt on. He would bunt on his own because he would do whatever he was supposed to do to win a game. He always made good decisions.”

He made it look easy. In an era of upperclassmen, Majeski worked his way into the varsity lineup as a sophomore. He worked his way into the University of Florida lineup as a freshman. He credits his ‘Little Man Syndrome.’ Opponents credit his talent, but it really came down to hard work and dedication.

Growing up, Majeski would play for hours in pick-up games as one of five kids in his family. In high school, he’d travel to the New Britain YMCA over the winter just for a chance to take batting practice at their indoor facility. In college, he would steal down to the field every chance he got to hone his skills. His success was no accident.

In college, his relentless approach was necessary to survive against the crowd of division one giants during the steroid era.

“On my lunch hour, I’d grab the towel boy and have him put balls on the tee for me for hours on end. On midnight study breaks, I’d got down to the field with my college roommate and hit over and over,” he said. “It didn’t come easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I was at a place where the weather was great. You could play year-round, and Florida had the type of money to provide everything you needed. I was always a skinny kid with something to prove.”

The proof is in the statistics. At the end of his high school career, Majeski owned four single-season records for the Blue Knight and five career bests. He set the single season steals record as a sophomore. He set the record for runs (42), doubles (18), and total bases (218) as a senior. Nobody collected more total bases (442), runs (80), doubles (28), or stolen bases. As a junior, he reached base 15 consecutive times—another record, and his batting average in 1988 (.560) was the best by any Southington player except for Mike Mauro’s high water mark of .567 in 1953.

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