Claudio Reilsono, 56, of Sewickley, always wanted to be a man of many hats, baseball hats mainly.
“I always wanted to coach baseball, scout professionally, and do all these other things, said Reilsono. “I never wanted to put my eggs in one basket.”
He’s achieved those first two goals and more. Currently, Claudio is the General Manager of the Global Scouting Bureau and head coach of the Carnegie Mellon Varsity baseball team.
He hosts talk shows like Steel City Sports World and Pittsburgh Ring Talk with his friends Luther Dupree and “Smokin” Jim Frazier. He hosts a podcast with sports legends from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, holds baseball clinics, and wrote for boxing outlets.
In October, he published his first book, “Lead From The Heart Up, Not The Neck Up.” He wrote the book to give people leadership advice from his 38-year coaching career.
His parents, Olindo & Ida, came here from Italy and were very into boxing and soccer. Claudio’s first love is baseball. In August 1973, his uncle took him to Three Rivers Stadium for the first time in his life, early in the morning before a game.
His uncle worked at the Allegheny Club in the stadium, so he was able to show Claudio around and introduce him to the players in the locker room.
When he stepped onto the AstroTurf at Three Rivers, staring at the scoreboard and the 60,000 or so seats around him. He realized that he wanted to become a professional baseball player.
“I told my dad what I wanted to do in my life,” said Reilsono. “He told me, if that’s what you want to do, me and your mother will do all we can, do everything we can to give you every opportunity in the world to make your dreams come true.”
At age 22, Reilsono was a volunteer assistant high school baseball coach at Quaker Valley High School after graduating there. After three tryouts with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, his professional baseball career was over before it began.
“I remember sitting in the outfield with my legs crossed, smiling, but I wasn’t happy, said Reilsono. “How can I go home and tell my parents that my dream is done?”
He decided to continue his career in baseball as a coach. Rich Woznicki, his coach in high school, asked him to stay on as an assistant coach. When Woznicki got into a car accident in 1988, he took over as head coach at 23.
In his first practice as head coach, he set the precedent that he based his entire career on.
The practice was scheduled to be indoors, but it was a nice day, so Reilsono wanted to take it outside. One player complained somewhat loudly about not going outside, and Claudio felt disrespected and responded.
“I said then don’t go, I don’t care if you stay, go home or quit, we’re going outside,” said Reilsono. “The only time I get on a player is not when they make a physical error, but when they disrespect me, the team or just don’t try, but that is very, very rare.”
The biggest thing he stresses in the book is having good people around you.
You are going to do great things on the field and in the office, really in life if you have great people around you”, said Reilsono. “When you have that kind of person, man, it makes your job so much easier.”
He explains that sometimes good guys can unintentionally have bad leadership moments. He references one player who was a good player, but he was very hard on some who didn’t get as much playing time as he did.
“Being mad and hollering at somebody and degrading them isn’t going to do anything,” said Reilsono. “A good leader motivates others to another level, not make them disappear.”
His goal in life was to impact people, and he hopes that his book can make that impact.
“I wrote this book to prove you don’t have to be a hard-ass,” said Reilsono. “I’m using baseball as a metaphor, a vehicle for leadership.”