Having a father and son on the same baseball team is a rarity, but for Joe and JD Urso it works.
They love each other without question, but when it comes to the game it’s all about working hard and both come at it with a championship mentality.
“It’s pretty much strictly business: he wants to win; I want to win. We both demand a lot from each other,” said JD. “Off the field, we’ve always had a very close relationship.
“We work hard together. Whether we’re playing pickup basketball, ping pong, or any other sport, we are both extremely competitive. And of course, we have some fun and relax on our off days.”
Since Coach Urso joined the Spartans in 2001, the team has won five D-II National Championships.
In the last couple of years, son JD had more of a defensive role with Tampa. In 2020-21, he led his team in assists (57) and had one of the highest range factors (3.69) on the roster.
Now, the 21-year-old is trying to develop himself into an all-around player.
“I’ve always prided myself on my defence, but I’ve always worked very hard on my offence and take a lot of reps,” Urso said. “This year, I got stronger. I’m hitting with more power.
“But the biggest thing that I’ve built is the focus through every at bat. Going to the plate with a good approach and mindset.”
This effort is paying off.
The sophomore is arguably the best Spartan hitter this season, putting some excellent numbers so far: .402 AVG (third in Sunshine State Conference), 32 runs batted in, and four home runs.
“He’s one of the first players there every day,” coach Urso said. “He’s putting a lot of time into all the extra hitting, and he’s getting a result. So I couldn’t be more proud of him right now.”
The senior Urso wasn’t the only one in the family who helped JD develop his game.
“I was very fortunate to grow up with a brother who is just two years younger than me,” the sports management major said. “We pretty much did everything together, played wiffle ball together, we pretty much self-taught each other the game of baseball.”
Joining a well-respected program, especially when the six-time national coach of the year is your father, could be really tough. Well, not for JD.
“Coming out of high school, my biggest question was ‘Do I want to play for my dad?’,” the shortstop said. “And really, it was a pretty easy decision. I think everyone would agree he’s one of the best coaches in the country.
“I’ve been playing for him for three years, but he’s been coaching me my entire life.”