MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ — Before Jeff Torborg caught Sandy Koufax’s perfect game while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he earned the honor of All-State as a catcher at Westfield High School.
Torborg, who during his 10-year-long career in baseball played for the California Angels and was part of Don Drysdale’s record-setting streak of 58-2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, now has another notch to add to his belt.
On Saturday, the Union County Freeholders dedicated the Jeff Torborg Youth Baseball field at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside in his honor. In addition to growing up in Westfield, Torborg is a longtime resident of Mountainside.
“When I first was told about this amazing tribute, I was literally speechless … this is a tremendous thrill for me and for my family,” said Torborg, according to a release from the county. “It is an honor to be recognized by my home county, which has been the site of events important to generations of my family.”
Two youth baseball teams, municipal officials from both Mountainside and Westfield along with members of the Torborg family attended the dedication, the release said.
“We welcome you home today,” said Freeholder Vice Chair Alexander Mirabella, who introduced Torborg and presented him with a resolution honoring him with his colleagues. “We are pleased to name this field in your honor, and our hope is to inspire future generations of our younger county residents to follow in your path.”
Torborg threw out the first pitch to his grandson, also named Jeff Torborg, after which the Clark Little League and Springfield Junior Baseball teams played an exhibition game during which they sported uniforms emblazoned with Torborg’s #10 uniform number, according to the release.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said it was a privilege to participate in the dedication.
"While Jeff’s Major League Baseball accomplishments are well known, it is his commitment to youth sports and the impact he has had on so many young lives that will be his lasting legacy," Brindle told TAPinto Westfield. "I can think of no more fitting tribute than dedicating a field in his name, which will hopefully inspire a future Jeff Torborg that will equal his contributions on and off the field."
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Throwing the pitch to his grandson while kicking off a youth exhibition game was among a long line of accomplishments in Torborg’s career that did not end as a player with Major League Baseball.
Torborg later managed five Major League Baseball teams: the Cleveland Indians, White Sox, Mets, Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He also served as a coach for the Yankees for 10 years then became an award-winning television and radio baseball broadcaster for CBS Radio and, on TV, Fox Sports, the release noted.
The Torborg family also donated memorial bench plaques to the field and facility, which includes a plaque memorializing his accomplishments.
To obtain a permit to play at the field, which sites off of Mill Lane in Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, bordering Westfield, call the Union County Parks Department at 908-527-4900.