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May 27, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Former St. John’s baseball coach and player Joe Russo, who captained the team to the College World Series in 1966 as a slick-fielding shortstop and returned twice as the program’s skipper, has died. He was 74.

The university announced Monday in a statement that Russo died Sunday after a long illness.

Russo played four years at St. John’s under coach Jack Kaiser, and was selected to the College World Series all-tournament team in 1966. He took over as coach of the program in 1974, when Kaiser became the school’s athletic director.

Russo went 612-310 in 22 seasons with St. John’s, including CWS appearances in 1978 and 1980. The second of those squads included future major league All-Star pitchers Frank Viola and John Franco.

Among other future big leaguers Russo coached at St. John’s included Rich Aurilia, C.J. Nitkowski, Terry Bross and Wayne Rosenthal.

Russo was the Big East Conference coach of the year in 1990 and ’91, and led Team USA at the 1995 Pan-American Games in Argentina. He retired after that season and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.