Jordan High baseball: Tony Dimitri follows in father's footsteps as Red Jackets' coach

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerMarch 29, 2012 

Jordan High baseball coach Tony Dimitri has fond memories of the school's baseball program from when his dad, the late Anthony Dimitri, was at the helm.

Now Dimitri, 33, is making his own memories.

This season, Dimitri took the reins of the baseball program at his alma mater and that of his twin brother and dad. But his earliest baseball memories were created during the time Anthony Dimitri coached at Hardaway.

"When he was at Hardaway, we were bat boys when we were around 5 to 7 years old," Dimitri said. "We had jackets with Dimitri 1 and Dimitri 2 on them. That was probably so he could tell us apart."

When their dad took over at Jordan, Tony and John Dimitri played baseball at Northern Little League.

"I remember getting out of school and coming to watch the Jordan games," Dimitri said. "We were real involved with the school. His first year, Jordan went 14-12. His third year, we no-hit Columbus High twice and ended up going to the Final Four."

The elder Dimitri served as a role model for his sons, both on and off the field.

"From the time he was at Hardaway, I knew I wanted to get into coaching and teaching. Our dad had such a rich history at Jordan, we wanted to go to school where he was. We love Jordan. We grew up around it. It really hurt to see him retire," Dimitri said.

The senior Dimitri piloted the Red Jackets from 1991 until 2008 after coaching at Hardaway from 1981 to 1990. He also served as Jordan's athletic director.

Tony and John Dimitri are 1998 Jordan graduates and both played baseball for their dad.

"It was fun playing for him," Dimitri said. "He was with us growing up and we got to watch the way he taught. He expected more of us and we knew that we had to take a leadership role. He didn't really treat us any differently."

Current athletic director Gerald Turner shares a family history with the Dimitris.

"I coached both of the guys in high school," Turner said. "I coached my own son and (coach Ken) Wojciechowski's son. It's a family tradition. Most people want to come back and work at their alma mater. You want to work at a place you really value."

Turner worked for many years with Anthony Dimitri and he sees a lot of him in his sons. John Dimitri was a community coach at Jordan for three years before his brother took over.

"When you see them, you see their dad," Turner said. "They're the spitting image of him. It took me a long time to realize who was who. I just called them both Dimitri. Anthony and I are from the old school. They both have the same values from back then. They both always say to me that they wish we could go back to the way it was."

Anthony Dimitri, a member of the school's 1971 state championship team, succumbed to cancer in the summer of 2008. He was recently inducted into the Georgia Dugout Hall of Fame, where his sons accepted the award on his behalf.

"When I became a head coach, he's my measuring stick," Tony Dimitri said. "I want to do what he did. The hardest thing is that I can't call him after practice and ask him questions."

Dimitri knows his dad would be proud of his continuing the family tradition.

"I remember the summer he got the call and moved from Hardaway to Jordan." Dimitri said. "I can still remember how happy he was to be going back to his alma mater. This means a ton to our family. My first thought when I was offered the job was that he would be proud. I know he would be glad that I'm back here. I'm home."

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service