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Canzler Back In The Game Coaching The Hazleton Area Baseball Team

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"He played his high-school ball at Joe Maddon field..same hometown...that ball is ripped," said the announcer.

The highlight moment in Russ Canzler's pro baseball career being named the 2011 International League Player of the Year.  Canzler went on to get his first big league hit with Tampa that season at Yankee Stadium.

"First to third guys get some depth," said Russ.

Now a husband and father to four children-Canzler returned to his roots to be Head Coach at Hazleton with the Cougars high-school baseball team.

"I'm so lucky that my wife has always been supportive of me ever since we got married. It's been a life on the road when I was a player. I missed the competition part. I miss the preparation and putting the work in to try to prepare for victory," again said Russ.

"I was pretty excited. I knew that he had a lot of experience in the game, and we knew that he was going to bring a great mindset to the program. So we we're all pretty excited to hear that he was our new coach," said Alex Amentler.

"I was pretty excited to get another perspective on the game of baseball. I felt like he would bring a good experience to the team," said J.T. Vozar.

A 30th round pick by the Cubs in 2004-Canzler clawed his way through the minor league system learning the game. Now he is teaching it to the new generation of ball players.

"My message has been consistently that if we do the little things right then big things are going to happen, but if we don't take care of the little things like showing up to practice on time, being a leader in the classroom. If we do those little things right I think our talent and the hard work that we are putting in from the baseball end is going to gel on the field in the wins column," added Russ.

Russ called it quits in 2012 in major league baseball while playing for the Cleveland Indians. That year he had home runs off Chris Sale and Francisco Liriano, but he always had an itch to get back in the game. So when the job here at Hazleton opened up Russ made the call.

"12 years in professional baseball felt like a year and I had a lot of fun and made a lot of great memories along the way," said Russ.

With a good feeder program, facilities and a foundation to grow Russ is on the right track. Steve Lloyd reporting for Newswatch 16 sports WNEP from Luzerne County.



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