FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2009

CONTACT: Tom Plante, 908-527-4746
Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419

 

Student Athletes from Cranford & Scotch Plains Will Be Among Those Honored
at Union County Hot Stove League Awards Dinner, Feb. 8
Guest Speaker: Ed Kranepool of the New York Mets

 

The Union County Baseball Association will honor local student athletes for their accomplishments during 2008 and will induct four new members into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame during award ceremonies on Sunday, February 8. The 73rd Annual Hot Stove League Baseball Dinner begins at 1:00 p.m. at the L’Affaire Banquet Center, 1099 Route 22 East, Mountainside. The dinner is sponsored by the Union County Baseball Association, in cooperation with the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal.

Among the student athletes who will receive major honors are Andrew Ciencin of Cranford, Hillary Klimowicz of Scotch Plains, Scott Marino of Scotch Plains, Deanna Russomanno of Cranford, and Katherine VanBenschoten of Cranford.

The four new inductees into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame – Anthony Candelino of Elizabeth, Ben Candelino of Elizabeth, Dom Guida of Summit, and Bill Howard of Berkeley Heights – will be honored for their outstanding contributions to our national pastime on the baseball diamonds of Union County, New Jersey.

The special guest speaker at the awards dinner will be Ed Kranepool, the former first baseman for the New York Mets who played more games in a Mets uniform than any other player in the team’s history.

“We’re delighted to have one of the original Mets, Ed Kranepool, as the guest speaker at this year’s Hot Stove League Awards Dinner,” said Freeholder Chairman Al Mirabella. “We hope that family members and friends of all the award recipients will enjoy the Sunday afternoon ceremonies and support youth baseball and the new inductees into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.”

In addition to the new Hall of Fame inductees and student athletes, the Hot Stove League Baseball Dinner also will honor local baseball teams for their achievements in 2008.

Tickets for the dinner are $40.00, with proceeds going to help fund the Union County Summer Youth Baseball League for youngsters 8 to 15 years, and the Fall Teen League.

Since 1937, the annual Hot Stove League Dinner has been the primary fund-raising effort for the Union County Baseball Association’s summer and fall programs. Over the years, the awards dinner has honored many local and national baseball luminaries – including Phil Rizzuto of Hillside, Don Newcombe of Elizabeth, Joe Collins of Union, Jeff Torborg of Mountainside, Willie Wilson of Summit, Jake Wood of Elizabeth, and Elliott Maddox of Union.

Tickets for the 73rd Annual Union County Baseball Association Hot Stove League Dinner on Feb. 8th are available for $40 and may be obtained by calling (908) 789-3686.

Union County Baseball Association
73rd Hot Stove League Annual Baseball Dinner
February 8, 2009 – 1:00 p.m.
L’Affaire Banquet Center, Route 22 East
Mountainside, N.J. 07092

GUEST SPEAKER
Ed Kranepool

Ed Kranepool was born in the Bronx, New York, on November 8, 1944. He attended James Monroe High School. Ed was signed, at the age of 17, by the New York Mets and made his Major League debut as a pinch hitter on September 22, 1962, near the end of the first season in Mets history. His first full game was the next day, when he played first base, wearing number 21, and went 1 for 4 with a double, his first Major League hit.

The popularity of Mets first baseman “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry kept Kranepool from earning a full-time playing role until the following season, when Throneberry was demoted. But Ed still struggled to get playing time and he spent part of 1963 in the minors before rejoining the team as a September call-up.

1965 could be considered Kranepool’s first “full” season with the Mets after he appeared in 119 games in 1964. Changing his uniform number to seven (after the Mets acquired pitcher Warren Spahn who also wore number 21), Ed played in 153 games, batting .253 with 10 home runs and 55 RBI, and was named to the All-Star Team. He followed that in 1966 with a .254 batting average and 16 homers.

In 1969, the Mets completed their “Miracle” season in which the team, backed by Kranepool, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, won their first World Series title. Ed Kranepool hit a home run in game three of the series, a 5-0 win for the Mets over the Baltimore Orioles.

Ed had perhaps his best season in 1971, when he batted .280 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI. He also led the National League with a .998 fielding percentage. However, for the remainder of his career (with the notable exception of 1976, when he had 455 plate appearances), Ed became a platoon player batting against right-handers, until he was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter, a role in which he flourished. From 1974 through 1978, he hit .396 as a pinch hitter, batting .486 in the role in 1974.

Ed became a fan favorite, and a legend among Mets fans for playing in 18 seasons, all of them with the Mets. No other Mets player has played for the team that long. He was the last of the 1962 Mets to remain with the team, and the last of that team to retire from baseball.

When he left the Mets after the 1979 season, Ed was the all-time club leader in numerous offensive categories, of which he still leads in four: at-bats (5,436); hits (1,418); doubles (225); and total bases (2,047). He has played more games in a Mets uniform (1,853) than any other player. Ed Kranepool was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1990.

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES (Four)

ANTHONY CANDELINO

Anthony Candelino got his start in baseball in Elizabeth, playing in the St. Anthony’s Little League, the North Elizabeth Little League, and on St. Anthony’s Parochial Team. He started his high school career at St. Mary’s, where he led his team to the Parochial B State Championship and was selected to the 1st Team All-Parochial and 3rd Team All-Union County.

Anthony then transferred to Elizabeth High School where he blossomed into one of the finest athletes in Union County. In 1984, he was 1st Team All-County, 3rd Team All-State, and 1st Team All-Group IV. In 1985, he led the team in hitting and home runs, and helped the Minutemen win the Union County Tournament and the North Jersey Group 4 State Championship. He was selected 1st Team All-County, 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All-Daily News, and Honorable Mention All-American.

The Montreal Expos drafted Anthony in the fourth round after his senior year at Elizabeth High School (the 88th player selected overall) and he played with the Jamestown Expos for two seasons. He was traded to the New York Mets in 1988, but a shoulder injury ended his career.

Anthony holds the Elizabeth High School record for home runs and runs batted in. Besides his baseball prowess, Anthony was an All-State basketball player who earned a basketball scholarship to Marquette University, where he started at point guard in his freshman year. Currently, Anthony is a successful businessman/restaurateur in Jacksonville, Florida.

BEN CANDELINO

Ben Candelino played his youth baseball in the Elizabeth and St. Anthony’s little league programs before becoming a three-year starter for St. Mary’s. He was selected by the Newark Star-Ledger and the Elizabeth Daily Journal as the All-Union County second baseman in his junior and senior years in high school. In his senior year, Ben was a 1st Team All-State player and led all Union County hitters with a .458 average. As a junior, Ben led St. Mary’s of the Assumption to an 18-6 record and an appearance in the State Sectional final.

Ben played in the Union County Baseball League for the Elizabeth Braves and legendary coach John Sampson for seven years, receiving the MVP award in 1979. He moved on to play three seasons with the Union Rockets in the Essex County League, helping them to win the State’s Tournament of Champions.

While Ben is probably best known for his coaching abilities at Elizabeth High, guiding the Minutemen to numerous Group 4 and Union County Tournament championships, and four successful trips to the Tournament of Champions, he also was a successful coach at his alma mater. In 1981, the Hilltoppers were Union County Tournament finalists and they won a State title in 1983.

Ben Candelino currently works in the Elizabeth school system and he is a member of the Elizabeth Hall of Fame.

DOM GUIDA

Dom Guida was a lifelong resident of Summit who played varsity sports for Summit High School. He pitched two years at Seton Hall University and pitched and played outfield for his base team in the U.S. Air Force. Dom was employed by the Summit Board of Recreation for 32 years, retiring as Director of Recreation. He coached Summit teams in the Intra-County League and American Legion leagues for 12 years, winning six championships.

Dom officiated baseball, softball and basketball games for 20 years. As an active member of the Summit Alumnae Association, he helped provide facilities for youth baseball camps in Summit. He was a member of the Union County Baseball Association and the Hot Stove League Dinner Committee for twelve years. He was an Honorary Vice President of the UCBA and he also volunteered with other organizations.

Dom was always an advocate of volunteerism, especially when it involved helping children, and he was truly an asset to the Union County Baseball Association. He was the recipient of the Jerry Molloy Memorial Award in 2006 for his years of faithful service to Union County baseball.

Dom Guida lived in Summit with his wife, Barbara. They have four sons who played varsity sports in Summit and in college and also have eleven grandchildren. Dom passed away in September 2008.

BILL HOWARD

Bill Howard excelled in three sports at Ridgewood High School, earning All-State honors in soccer and baseball in 1970. A four-year starter at Springfield College, where he was team captain in his senior year, he played in the prestigious Cape Cod League before settling into his teaching career at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights.

Bill experienced great success while coaching Gov. Livingston’s soccer team to both a county and State title, but Coach Howard established himself as one of the premier coaches in New Jersey while coaching the school’s baseball team. He guided the Gov. Livingston baseball program for 24 seasons, winning more than 400 games. In all, Bill had only one losing season. His teams won five sectional championships and the Group II State Championship in 1999, and he coached in the All-American game in 2003.

In addition to his coaching success, Bill Howard was influential in sending many players to college, most notably Eric Brown (Rutgers) and Craig Conway (Montclair State). Two of his former players, Chris Roof (Gov. Livingston) and Dan Mondelli (Linden) are head coaches in Union County.

CHRIS ZUSI MEMORIAL AWARD
OUTSTANDING ATHLETE
UNION COUNTY

Scott Marino

Scott Marino of Scotch Plains was an outstanding swimmer for St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen and the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA. He earned four varsity letters at St. Joe’s and was a First Team All-State selection in 2008. Scott holds the school record in the 200 Individual Medley and is the current 200 IM National Record Holder. He ended his high school career by being named All American in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. Scott is the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA team record holder for the 200 IM, 400 IM, and the 200 breaststroke, and he set the 2008 YMCA National record in the 200 IM. He was one of only eight high school students nationally to qualify for the 200 IM in the 2008 Olympic Trials. Scott now attends Penn State University.

JOSEPH R. LOMBARDI MEMORIAL AWARD
OUTSTANDING ATHLETE
UNION COUNTY
Sponsored by ConocoPhillips Bayway Refinery

Hillary Klimowicz

Hillary Klimowicz is a graduate of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, where she is the all-time Raiders scoring leader, boy or girl, in basketball. She was named Player of the Year in her junior and senior years by the Star-Ledger. Hillary was awarded a four-year scholarship to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. After a stellar freshman year playing for the Hawks, and being named Rookie of the Year by the Atlantic 10 Conference, she decided to give up the scholarship and the pressure of Division I sports. Hillary transferred to The College of New Jersey, a nonscholarship Division III school, and was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for her decision to focus more on her education and extracurricular activities while still playing basketball. On January 12, 2009, the College of New Jersey women’s basketball senior center became the Lions’ 12th women’s player to join the 1,000 point club.

EDWARD COOPER MEMORIAL AWARD
MOST VALUABLE SCHOLASTIC BASEBALL PLAYER

Andrew Ciencin
Cranford High School

Andrew Ciencin previously won the Cooper Award for his outstanding junior year at Cranford when he batted .440 for the Cougars. In his senior year, Andrew led his team to their second straight Mountain Valley Conference Mountain Division Championship. He batted a career-high .506 as his team ended the 2008 season with a 19-6 record. Ciencin finished high school with an average of .473 with 61 doubles, 146 runs scored, 20 home runs and 137 runs batted in. He holds eight Cranford school records, including career hits, runs, RBI, doubles and homers. Andrew now attends North Carolina State University.

 

BANYASZ BROTHERS MEMORIAL AWARD
MOST VALUABLE SCHOLASTIC SOFTBALL PLAYERS (two)

Deanna Russomanno
Cranford High School

Deanna Russomanno’s batting and fielding skills earned her the title of Union County Player of the Year in 2008. In her junior year with the Cranford Cougars, she also made the All State team. Deanna batted .500 for the season, with three triples, three home runs, 30 runs scored and 17 runs batted in. But she saved her best for the Union County Tournament, where she went 9-for-13 with two homers, seven RBI and seven runs. One of the county’s best fielders, she committed just three errors at shortstop all season.

Katherine VanBenschoten
Cranford High School

Katherine VanBenschoten had an outstanding 2008 season at Cranford High School playing centerfield and pitching for the Cougars. Her .629 batting average, 15 home runs, 40 RBI and 36 runs scored helped Cranford to a 25-1 record, the team’s third straight Union County championship, and No. 19 ranking in the Star-Ledger Top 20. Katherine was named to the first team All State, and was chosen as Hitter of the Year by the Star-Ledger. She also went 10-1 on the mound as a junior with a 0.73 earned run average.