Contrary to recruiting norms, Head Baseball Coach Doug Kimbler never saw Jonathan Iaione take the field or step up to the plate in person prior to Iaione’s arrival at NYU. With only statistics to analyze and a recruiting tape to evaluate, Kimbler took what Iaione described as a “shot in the dark” on the New Jersey slugger when assembling the 2014-2015 recruiting class for the program’s inaugural season of varsity competition. Four years later, Iaione’s athletic excellence has earned him selection to the University Athletic Association 30th Anniversary Team, making it safe to say that Kimbler’s shot hit the bullseye.
Since his first day at NYU, Iaione has made his presence known on the diamond. Throughout his tenure, the CAS senior has started nearly every game for the Violets while demonstrating his versatility as a ballplayer at numerous positions across the infield and outfield while making a name for himself at the plate.
“I think I’ve always been a strong hitter,” Iaione said. “That’s where I made my legacy at NYU — my offensive numbers. I’m known for my bat, and that’s what I take the most pride in.”
It was with his bat that Iaione secured the honor of being named the 2016-2017 UAA Position Player of the Year. The then-junior earned the recognition by leading the UAA with 59 hits and a conference-high .447 batting average, while also recording the second most doubles, home runs and runs batted in.
Understanding that baseball is both a physically and mentally demanding game, Iaione credits his success to his taciturn and business-like approach on the field.
“I’m a pretty loud person off the field, but when I’m on the field, I play the game super quiet,” he said. “I know what I need to do on the field, and I’m going to do it. I don’t like hype. Baseball is a sport where everyone is yelling and screaming. For me, hype does nothing. I’m going to do what I need to do.”
Now, one season after his MVP-caliber campaign, Iaione was named to the UAA 30th Anniversary Team as the sole representative of NYU. The team, which consists of every past and present player who garnered a specific calculation of All-Association and Player of the Year honors, was constructed in celebration of the athletic accomplishments of UAA student athletes over the past 30 years.
When asked about the impact the recognition will have on the program, Kimbler made it clear that Iaione’s success has played an integral role in the development of the young program.
“It puts NYU on the map as a legitimate baseball program,” Kimbler said. “We talk about players on our team all the time when talking about recruiting, recognition, expectations. Jonny usually is the topic of discussion.”
SPS senior, baseball captain and pitcher Cameron Serapilio-Frank echoed Kimbler’s comments on the impact Iaione’s recognition will have on the program.
“Showing the type of talent that our team consists of and competes with—this selection helps bring NYU baseball validation,” Serapilio-Frank said. “Most importantly, it validates the competitive culture that we have in this program, something that pushes our playing levels to new heights and gets the attention of other high-performing recruits.”
Furthermore, Serapilio-Frank said that he expects the next generation of NYU ballplayers will carry on the “swipe and pipe” culture of swiping bases and piping fastballs that Iaione established over his tenure.
“Something that has spurred our offense and defense, the ‘swipe and pipe’ approach to the game has given our team identity,” Serapilio-Frank said. “The approach has simplified our attack and energized our lineup and dugout and will leave a philosophy [to be] adopted by hitters for years to come.”
As for himself, Iaione said the legacy he will imprint on the program is only a baseline for what the next generation of Violets can accomplish.
“It’s nice to start something and be the first to put up a year like I had and to be named UAA Player of the Year,” Iaione said. “I’d love to look back and see some more UAA Players of the Year. I set the standard and for guys to exceed that, good for them, and I would really welcome that.”
Iaione will finish out his senior season before graduating next month with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and dual minor in Mathematics and Business Studies. With aspirations to work in finance, Iaione said he will continue to leverage the time management, mental toughness and teamwork skills he has developed over his time as a student athlete while he continues to undergo the interviewing process.
A version of this article was published in the Monday, April 9 print edition. Email Warner Radliff at [email protected]