News Stories

Z-Man - Darren Zack - a bio by Joe Corbiere

November 16, 2015

Garden River, ON - Darren was born in Garden River Ontario, son of Edith (nee Pine) and John Zack. He has one sister Leslie and one brother Brenden. Darren is married to Charlotte (nee Syrette) and has 5 children, Shawn, John, late William, Molli and Darren Junior. Shawn has 2 sons and Jr has a son and daughter, thus Darren has 4 grandchildren.


Darren was born in Garden River Ontario, son of Edith (nee Pine) and John Zack. He has one sister Leslie and one brother Brenden. Darren is married to Charlotte (nee Syrette) and has 5 children, Shawn, John, late William, Molli and Darren Junior. Shawn has 2 sons and Jr has a son and daughter, thus Darren has 4 grandchildren.

Darren grew up playing hardball and hockey. Darren had a cup of coffee with the OHL Soo Greyhounds. His fastball roots were a family affair. Darren graced the field of the Garden River Braves. He played with his father John, uncles late the late Merlin Zack and the late Bobby Lesage. His other ball playing uncles included Gerald Zack and Morley and Willard Pine, in addition his aunts Joanie and Marie also played fastball.

His pitching career began in the now defunct Goulais North League. Many hours were spent with Ray Lato Jr, a local Sault pitcher, discussing pitching and refining his craft. A lot of hours were spent with father John, throwing, throwing and more throwing. A lot of gloves were worn out. I imagine a few paths to the back stop were worn in during the development stage.

Darren’s first catchers included the late Jimmy “the Juice” Williams (affectionately known as the Christmas Lunatic) and the late Rick “the Brains” Nolan. His best friend, growing up was Steve “The Cat” Nolan. Cat began catching Darren has he started getting better. Cat and his older brother Ted were part of the amazing double play combo until Cat started catching and Ted’s hockey career took off.

Darren’s early pitching style was influenced by cousin Stan “the Assassin” Solomon, Morley, the big left hook, Pine and the amazing knuckle baller Willard Pine. In addition, legend has it that Darren’s change up was based on Sucker Creek’s Duke Madahbee deceptive change up. Local pitching influences included Ray Lato Jr, Don Newman, big Tony Bergman, Harold Barton, Jimmy “the Cooler” Coulis, Jake Derosario and the list goes on.

Before he gained the pinpoint accuracy it was an adventure digging in the batters box. His hard throwing antics even made a few umpires nervous. I remember one lady ump asking Rick to get a better catcher in there, so she wouldn’t get hurt.

For batting practice, Darren was like having our own pitching machine. During batting practice he would probably throw 2 - 3 hundred pitches for our team. It was a good thing we only practiced a few times a year.

In his later years, Darren would pitch at home as well. This lead to some interesting incidents. In one game he dislocated one catcher’s thumb, beat up the 2nd catcher. Running out of options, I had my son Brett go in. After taking 3 solid pitches, to the chest, I still remember Brett calling out “ I still love you Unc”.

Although a few years later, the amazing Cree woman, Mekwan Tulpin, caught Darren in a couple of our league games.

 

by Joe Corbiere

Lots more on Joe's Facebook page Z-Man - Darren Zack

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