Instead of the buildup for the most anticipated message of the spring sports season – “Play Ball” – all we have now is, “Nobody knows.”
“This is just awful, on so many levels, and scary too,” Gov. Livingston baseball coach Chris Roof said.
The continued spread of the Coronavirus in our lives continues to take away our freedoms as a society. As the news changes on a daily basis that includes whether or not there will be any spring scholastic sports season here in New Jersey for 2020.
“It all depends on if we can get back to school,” said Roof, the head baseball coach at GL since 2004. “There’s so many different scenarios.
“First we heard (April) 13th, then the 20th, then Memorial Day. You try to be positive, but you have to be realistic. Look at pro sports and all the restrictions of large gatherings.”
Some school districts were originally closed for two weeks and some for four. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, by Executive Order 104, requires that “all public, private and parochial secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, shall be closed to students beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020 and shall remain closed as long as this Order remains in effect.”
“If we can get back by the middle of April and the state (NJSIAA) is willing to push the season back maybe we can salvage something,” Roof said. “I’ve spoken to a lot of coaches and even if we can play like 12 games, our conference schedule, have no county tournament and then maybe just states that would be something.”
Earlier this year five of Roof’s seniors signed letters-of-intent in front of a small audience at GL to continue playing collegiately. GL went 21-5 in 2019 and wrapped the decade with 222 victories, the most of any team in Union County. Pitchers Sam Bass, Ryan Devanney and Jarod Abram; shortstop Michael Delsordo and outfielder Sean McCulloch contributed mightily.
Bass and Devanney will next be competing at the Division 2 level at Thomas Jefferson University and Goldey-Beacom College, respectively, while Abram, Delsordo and McCulloch are headed to Division 3 schools Ramapo College, DeSales University and Susquehanna University, respectively.
“We had a great first week of practice that we were all enjoying,” Roof said. I have 11 seniors and for them this is really awful.”
This was to be a year of milestones of sorts for a few baseball coaches in Union County.
Roof is 10 wins away from obtaining his 400th.
Bob Brewster, who decided to come back this year out of retirement to coach a 38th season at Westfield is 11 victories shy of becoming the winningest coach in Union County history. He is presently tied with Gordon LeMatty of Union fame for second place with 641 wins, 10 behind Ray Korn of Roselle Catholic and Elizabeth with 651.
Roselle Park’s Nick Agoglia, who after the first day of practice told his players that this would be his last season so that he could spend more time with his two young sons who are involved in multiple sports, is 11 wins short of reaching 250 in a tenure that began with the 2003 campaign.
Roof, Brewster and Agoglia were in line to attain these milestones at their high school alma maters, Brewster Westfield Class of 1968, Roof GL Class of 1992 and Agoglia Roselle Park Class of 1995.
“This really makes you appreciate what you had before all of this happened,” Roof said. “You need to get out of the house, to take a walk, be able to do something.”
Could a spring sports season of any kind still be produced in New Jersey for 2020? Could we look forward to a coach or a player chasing a milestone or a team simply winning a game?
At this moment still nobody knows.
UNION COUNTY’S TOP 3 WINNINGEST BASEBALL COACHES
Ray Korn, Gordon LeMatty, Bob Brewster:
Ray Korn: 651-308-1 (.679)
1974-1979 – 6 seasons at Roselle Catholic
1 state championship – Parochial A in 1978
1980-2009 – 29 seasons (he did not coach one of those years) at Elizabeth
3 state championships – Group 4 in 1983, 1986 and 1994
Korn also guided Elizabeth to Union County Tournament
championships in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1991 and 2008.
Gordon LeMatty: 641-272-4 (.702)
1959-1991 – 33 seasons at Union
2 state championships – Group 4 in 1972 and 1974
LeMatty also guided Union to Central, Group 4 state titles in 1966 and 1968
and the Farmers to the first seven of their eight UCT championships, the last one
coming in 1975. In addition, LeMatty led Union to the 1966 and 1970
Greater Newark Tournament crowns.
Bob Brewster: 641-330-3 (.660)
1983-present – 37 seasons at Westfield
Brewster has guided the Blue Devils to Group 4 state championship games in 2011 (Toms River South), 2013 (Toms River North) and 2018 (VeteransPark, Hamilton).
Brewster has led Westfield to all five of its North 2, Group 4 titles: 1988, 2011,
2013, 2018, 2019.
Brewster has also led Westfield to 11 UCT championships, the most by any coach,
with his last coming in 2017.
CHRIS ROOF AT GOV. LIVINGSTON
Chris Roof’s 16-season (2004-2019) record at GL is 336-125-1 (.729).
Roof’s 3-season (2001-2003) record at Millburn was 54-34 (.614).
Roof’s overall 19-season (2001-2019) record is 390-159-1 (.710).
NICK AGOGLIA AT ROSELLE PARK
2003-2019 – 17 seasons: