John D’Acquisto retired from Major League Baseball in 1982. But instead of taking the high road and riding off into the sunset, like most retiring professional athletes do, D’Acquisto wanted to make something out of himself outside of baseball.
Born and raised in San Diego, D’Acquisto was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (17th overall) of the 1970 Major League Baseball draft out of St. Augustine High School.
D’ Acquisto breezed through the minor leagues and made his big league debut with the Giants in 1973. He then proved he belonged in the majors by being named The Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year, although he lost out to Bake McBride of the St. Louis Cardinals for the official Rookie of the Year award.
After four successful years with the Giants, D’Acqusito was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in a five-player deal. He only played in three games with the Cardinals before being traded to the Padres for Butch Metzger.
Being traded to his hometown team was truly a dream come true for him.
“What would be a hometown kid’s dream be but to play Major League baseball in front of his friends and family,” D’Acquisto said.
“My best years were with the San Diego Padres, absolutely.”
D’Acquisto was known for his blazing fastball. He said the fastest pitch he has ever thrown was recorded at 102.4 MPH with a slow gun, so actually his fastball topped out at 107 MPH. In fact, Bill James listed the fireballer in a book with Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. The book said D’Acquisto threw the fastest clocked pitch out of the three.
After a 10-year career, D’Acquisto finally hung up the spikes and retired from the game he loved. But, he would embark in a new adventure.
In his retirement, D’Acquisto kept baseball in his life. He played in the Senior Professional Baseball Association where he played with former teammates and pitched against ex-opponents such as Craig Nettles and Bobby Bonds.
D’Acquisto also dabbled into coaching. He was the pitching coach for the East Lake High School varsity baseball team, which won more than 90 games and three championships under his guidance.
The right-hander also used retirement to further his banking career, which he started in his playing days.
“We didn’t make the kind of money like players were making today. I was in the big leagues making $12,000 a year. I had to have an (off-season) job,” D’Acqusito said.
“I made more banking than (I did) playing ball.”
He then was asked by a friend to work for a company called Ariel Life Systems, a biomechanical engineering and computerized company that develops workout equipment for NASA and the space industry as well as elite athletic diagnosis on their performance.
With the company D’Acquisto also would develop templates for golf, baseball, tennis and some Olympic sports.
The most embarrassing time in D’Acquisto’s life was when he had to serve a four year prison term in 1996 for a crime he didn’t commit, according to court records.
“I was set up by very slick individuals that said I stole a bunch of money, and then they come to find out that I didn’t. It (the money) was in their hands to being with. They were using me as a fall guy so they can sneak away with everything and they did,” he said.
While in minimum-security prison he worked for the federal government through the San Bernardino Fire Department Boron Station 52 squad 52 Search and Rescue.
D’Acquisto used his prison term as motivation.
“I got embarrassed. I got trashed. My reputation got torn apart in San Diego. It was a very disheartening time in my life. My goal was to change my life, to better myself, to put myself in a position to achieve a goal to make me a better person.”
And better himself he did.
D’ Acqusito used his motivation to earn his Fire Science Degree and EMT status fromCerroCosoCommunity college.
Upon his release from prison, he went into coaching with MVP Baseball Academy and coaching varsity baseball at East Lake High School as a pitching coach under David Gonzalez and also coached the U.S. Navvy baseball team now called the Red, White and Blue Military All-Stars Team out of San Diego, California.
In 2004, he achieved his Doctorate of Science in Exercise science and Physiology with a focus on biomechanics at an online university. This achievement was his most proudest outside of baseball, he said.
“It was something I didn’t think I could achieve because the road ahead was so difficult,”
“Once I set a goal that competitive aspect comes out in me as a player, so I achieved my goal on what I wanted to achieve.”
He then went to work for a company in the bio-mechanical industry called Rough Edge Software who developed the analysis system called E-Factor, which D’Acquisto worked with extensively in his three years with the company.
Currently, D’Acquisto is a director and consultant at Sorganics Inc., a company that develops organic fertilizers and other products. He has been with Sorganics for five years and helps consult in the development of compounds that would replace cancer-causing products in the market.
D’Acquisto, 60, now lives in Arizona and is actually considering retirement.
“I am coming down to the end of my career now. I’m 60 years old now and so I’m beginning to look at retirement. I’m semi-retired right now.