For Team Pyzik, it's in genes

Athletics: Members of this remarkable family are scattered like seeds across local fields, with more of the third generation to come.

May 11, 1999|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Pyziks are creating a dynasty of sorts in local sports, with members of this exceptional, extended family making names for themselves on playing fields throughout the Baltimore area.

Jill Pyzik is a three-sport star at North Carroll, and she helped the Panthers' soccer team win the Class 3A West regional title last November. Her cousin, Maggie, pitched a no-hitter for John Carroll in March against St. Mary's.

Their cousin, Steve, who is going to Clemson this fall on a baseball scholarship, is one of only three Loyola players -- his uncle, Joe, is one of the others -- to hit a home run onto the roof of the school gymnasium behind the right-field fence.

There are five more Pyziks playing at varsity and JV levels and 11 younger brothers, sisters, and cousins in area middle elementary and even nursery schools.

"There's always Pyziks everywhere," joked Loyola soccer coach Don Kraft, who had Steve on the varsity squad and Kevin and Walter on the JV team. "It's a tremendous family."

And a confusing one, if you don't have a family tree in front of you. Six brothers head the family. They and their children are:

* Stosh Pyzik, 51, a mathematician with the U.S. Department of Defense at Fort Meade. He and his wife, Paula, have five children: Heather, 21, a senior at Washington College; Elizabeth, 18, a freshman at the University of Delaware; Maggie, 15, a high school sophomore; Alex, 13, an eighth-grader; and Tori, 9, a third-grader.

* Andy Pyzik, 48, a senior programmer with Zurich Insurance in Baltimore. He and his wife, Mary, have three children: Theresa, 16, a junior at Mercy High School; Andrew, 12, a sixth-grader; and John, 8, a third-grader.

* Zig Pyzik, 45, a project manager for VIPS, a data processing firm in Towson. He and his wife, Anna Marie, have five children: Abby, 17, a junior at Mercy; Walter, 15, a freshman at Loyola; Samantha, 14, a seventh-grader; Ziggy III, 8, a third-grader; and Scott, 6, a first-grader.

* Jake Pyzik, 45, director of finances for employee benefits for the state Department of Budget and Management in Baltimore. He and his wife, Jeanne, have three children: Laura, 19, a sophomore at St. Mary's College (Md.); Jill, 17, a high school junior; and Nicholas, 15, a freshman at North Carroll.

* Matt Pyzik, 43, senior vice president of Space Petroleum Co. in Ellicott City. He and his wife, Joanne, have four children: Steve, 17, a senior at Loyola; Kevin, 15, a sophomore at Loyola; Bradley, 14, a freshman at Loyola; and Lindsey, 10, a fourth-grader.

* Joe Pyzik, 36, chief of accounting for the developmental disabilities administration of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore. He and his wife, Joyce, have two children: Anastasia, 8, a third-grader;and Craig, 5.

The brothers also have a sister, Annette, a 41-year-old nun and math teacher at Trinity High School in Harrisburg, Pa.

Sports has always been a major influence in the Pyzik family. According to the brothers, their parents, Zigismund and Irene Pyzik -- who died in 1985 and 1990, respectively -- were exceptional athletes.

Zigismund -- or "Zig," as he was called -- liked to play basketball and was a member of a fast-pitch softball team for Westinghouse, where he was an electrical engineer.

Irene Pyzik had such a lively arm from playing softball as a girl that she once tossed an orange through the front window of their rowhouse in Canton.

Irene Pyzik's grandfather was two-time world middleweight boxing champion Stanislaus Kiecal, who was more popularly known as Stanley Ketchel.

"I really think it's something in the genes," Andy Pyzik said, half-seriously. "Dad was into math, we all went into accounting or some other math-related field. As well as a math gene, there's an athletic gene."

Sports became a bond for the seven siblings, who had only a black-and-white television, long before cable TV and video games.

"In the summertime, we would go over to Patterson Park and play baseball with everyone in the neighborhood," Jake Pyzik recalls. "Then we'd eat lunch, go back, play some stickball, eat dinner and go back and play again."

Added Joe: "Probably our first toy was a ball."

Of the siblings, Stosh, Annette, and Joe were the ones who played high school or collegiate sports. Stosh was a point guard on the Loyola College basketball team; Annette played softball and basketball for Catholic High School.

But Joe was the more celebrated athlete. At Loyola High, he was a point guard and captain of the basketball team. As an outfielder and captain of the baseball squad, he led the league in home runs for two consecutive years.

His most impressive feat was in the spring of 1979 when he launched a home run in the fifth inning against Calvert Hall.

The ball hit the top of the gym in right field -- about 400 feet from home plate -- and caromed over.

To this day, Joe Pyzik downplays the accomplishment.

"I probably didn't even think about it," he said. "I felt bad because we lost the game."

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