Meet Dave Fanucchi: Journalism Teacher and Astros Scorekeeper. You can normally find Dave Fanucchi teaching his class of high school students about the art of journalism, dishing out advice about interview questions, designing spreads, taking photos, and more. But when he’s not helping his newspaper or yearbook proteges, he’s chasing his love of baseball.
“I’m a massive Giants fan, being from San Francisco, and my life has revolved around baseball. My father loved baseball; he taught me the game and I played as a Little Leaguer. I went to college and studied journalism to become a sports reporter, covering baseball games. But life took me in a different direction,” Fanucchi said. After attending college in California, the San Francisco native was an assistant in media relations with a minor league baseball team, after which he was recruited to be the Director of Communications for USA Baseball.
In his role as press officer for Team USA, Fanucchi flew out to Sydney in 2000 with the men’s Olympic baseball team and was in the press box when the team won the gold medal against Cuba. The first gold won by an American team in the sport ever! Fanucchi found it most difficult to keep fans and press away from the star manager of the team, the late Tommy Lasorda.
“The hardest part of my job was keeping the press and others who wanted his autograph, to shake his hand, or to speak with him away from Tommy Lasorda, the star of the team who passed away recently. He was a Hall of Famer who helped lead us to a gold medal in that event. Moving him from interview to interview and interacting with the press outlets… it was a job from sunup to sundown, but it was a highlight of my baseball career,” he said.
He stayed in the PR department of USA Baseball for another six years, after which he switched to a smaller PR operation. A decade after his experience at the Sydney Olympics, Fanucchi decided to write a book about it, which he said was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make.
“I was at the 10-year reunion of the team, and all the players were nearly at the end of their careers,” he said. “A lot of the players and coaches were talking about recording our experiences, and one of them said: ‘Dave, maybe you could write a book about it.’”
All the players agreed to interview with him and provide any help necessary, and after this show of support, Fanucchi agreed to go ahead with this endeavor. After outlining each of his 16 chapters, “each of which were like tackling a college term paper,” he began writing. He had to balance his day job as a PR manager with his new role as an author, and so decided to write after his workday ended.
“It took me over a year to finish everything and put it together, and I self-published it on Amazon. I even created the cover on my own,” Fanucchi added.
Fanucchi is especially enthusiastic for the Olympics this year because baseball and softball have been added back for the first time in 13 years, and he believes that Team USA has a good chance of winning the gold medal this time as well, but only if they perform especially well against two fierce competitors.
“This year, the competition is going to boil down to America and Japan, just like softball has. The defending baseball champion from 2008 is South Korea. They’re not going to be easy to beat. We won in 2000 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. It was really close!”
Fanucchi also considered the home-field advantage that Japan has; however, he added in a factor which one may find interesting.
“You’d think Japan has the advantage because the games are in Tokyo. But Japanese players are used to a packed stadium of fans going crazy, banging their drums and everything else,” he said. “The advantage of a quiet stadium actually goes to the USA, because Japan no longer has a massive, visible fan base. There is also a mental aspect to it, as no team will perform well if everyone is cheering against them.”
Regardless of how Team USA performs this year, Fanucchi is among the thousands who watch the games for the sheer thrill and fanfare of it all.
“I love seeing the athletes represent their countries. And you know what I always think about? Can you imagine being the greatest in the world at one thing? Whether it’s judo or badminton or baseball or anything else… that title, that gold medal, means so much,” he said.
For the past six years, Fanucchi has worked at Wisdom High School, a public high school in the Houston Independent School District, as a journalism teacher, coaching his students in his beloved craft. “I’m the UIL Journalism coach at my school, too, and I really love helping kids who are passionate about journalism learn more and get more experience.”
When school isn’t in session, Fanucchi works as a Major League Baseball scorekeeper for the Houston Astros and spends his time in the press box. As a scorekeeper, Fanucchi determines hits and errors during the game and verifies the final score. It’s a high-stakes job, as he describes, since the press and thousands of fans rely on the efficient and accurate work of the scorekeeper during a game. To make a judgment, he watches the play in real time, and then rewatches it on a screen near his desk, making notes on his laptop.
“It’s a job where you learn to trust your gut instinct; your decisions rely on your knowledge of the game and your opinion of what happened. Different scorekeepers often think different things because of their perspective and knowledge of the game, which is okay. You just shouldn’t overthink, psych yourself out, and change your mind,” Fanucchi said.
As this is his first season as a scorekeeper, Fanucchi took some time to get comfortable with the responsibility on his shoulders, but he loves his job and looks forward to future seasons and gaining more expertise in his field.
When asked which of his roles (writer, teacher, scorekeeper, and PR manager) he enjoyed the most, Fanucchi admits that he loves teaching the most. Fanucchi truly is a Renaissance man, and we here at Houston Family Magazine wish him well in all his future pursuits, baseball and otherwise.