LIVINGSTON, NJ – The first annual Joe Valentine Memorial Softball Tournament was held on Saturday, August 2, to raise money for the Jackson and Caden Valentine Trust, for the support of Valentine’s two surviving children, Jackson, 7, and Caden, 8, as well as Valentine’s wife Heidi. The tournament was held at Mt. Pleasant Middle School and was organized by lifelong friends Stanley Banner, Eddie Frayne, Larry Garb and Bruce Kaufman.
Valentine graduated from Livingston High School in 1987, attended Rutgers University and taught elementary physical education in Millburn. He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008 and passed away in December of 2013.
Nine teams registered for the three games played simultaneously throughout the field and the first pitch was thrown by Valentine’s sons, marking the start of the event. A Premio Sausage food truck was present at the event and proceeds from their sales went to the Jackson and Caden Valentine Trust as well.
Kevin Herder recalls Valentine as a “quiet, humble guy but very funny. He was just an amazing person with a smile that lit up the room. Genuinely one of the nicest people you’d ever meet.”
Herder knew Valentine for 35 years since their days of playing little league baseball together. Herder said, “He never complained, that was his personality in sports and in life. Although he had juvenile diabetes, you would never have known he was sick. He had a quiet demeanor but was one of the fiercest competitors on the field.”
Valentine, Herder, Banner and Frayne all played softball together, and Herder recalls the experiences they shared, “The camaraderie we all had was amazing. Being in Joe’s company was always exciting.”
Herder shared an emotional letter Valentine emailed his dearest friends shortly before he passed away. In it, Valentine expressed his sheer courage, strength and even sense of humor in facing a devastating diagnosis and also stressed his deep love and concern for his wife, children, family and friends.
Frayne spoke about the softball tournament in Alabama the group of friends shared, and said, “It was like the “Bad News Bears” weekend. The memories we have, none of us will ever forget. All of us glow when we talk about our trip. It really bonded us.”
“We had great times, he was a super guy,” Frayne added.