SUMMIT, NJ - Leroy Horn, a multi-sport star athlete at Summit High School and Montclair State University, has been rewarded for his career achievements by being named to the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame.
Horn will be enshrined, along with four other inductees, at a ceremony February 9 in Mountainside at L'Affaire Banquet Center. "I had been told that I was going to be nominated, but then i didn't hear anything for what seemed like a long time," Horn said. "And I thought, well, it's not going to happen and that is okay. Then one day the phone rang and it goes without saying that I was pleasantly surprised and very honored."
Horn played football and baseball at Summit High School from 1982-84, earning Team MVP honors in 1984 while batting .418 and hitting eight triples, a season-high mark that stands today as a team record. A three-year starter, the center fielder showed his performance potential at the plate by batting .342 his sophomore year. Horn was batting a magical .450 heading into the final month of his senior season, only to enter what he calls a "tragic slump" that saw his average dip 32 points. During his Hilltopper baseball career, Horn earned multiple All Conference and All State honors.
Horn was also football captain and 1983 Team MVP, with his powerful running style breaking Willie Wilson's record for most yards in a half. ""When each season came around, whether it was baseball or football, that was the sport I loved and had passion for," said Horn.
Moving onto Montclair State University (MSU), Horn saw his path to playing time blocked by a key recruit, and his Head Coach on the baseball team told him he would not be first choice in center field. Fortune intervened, however, and Horn became a regular when the blue-chipper ahead of him failed to make grades, paving the way for a storied career and an opportunity to make history.
Horn batted .326, with 37 doubles, 18 home runs, 172 hits and 139 RBI’s in his three-year career at MSU. He was named First Team All-NJAC, All-Mid-Atlantic Region, and Third Team All America. He ranks in the Top 20 in several MSU baseball statistical categories. Horn also excelled on the gridiron as a running back and kick returner, as the Red Hawks earned three straight NJAC Championships.
In his first college game, he hit a two-run double and, in his next, he blasted a two-run home run. His place in the team secured, Horn settled into a team dynamic that may not have been prototypical, but nonetheless produced optimum results. "We were a bunch of unique personalities, but we just gelled that year," he said. In fact, it was a brawl earlier during that season versus Temple that Horn credits for bring the team even closer together.
The pinnacle of his Montclair State baseball career was the 1987 NCAA Division III World Series, where he achieved every child's dream of clinching a championship by making the final, decisive play. In this case, it was a 13th-inning, two-run homer to right field that came on a 3-1 pitch on the outside part of the plate, giving the Red Hawks a dramatic 13-12, come from behind victory.
"The first man up got a bloop single, and normally the next guy up in that situation bunts the runner to second," Horn remembered. "But, as our coach told me, 'you're not a very good bunter'." The count went in his favor, and Horn says, "I knew it was gone the minute I hit it, and then it was just trying to carry my teammates to home plate after I rounded third so I didn't get crushed at home plate."
Horn is currently a fitness instructor at the Summit Area YMCA, and volunteers his time to Summit High School Football, where he helps out on Kevin Kostibos' staff, and coaches both Summit Youth Football and Summit Junior Baseball. He was recently inducted into Montclair State’s Hall of Fame.
Horn will be joined in the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame by Larry Caroselli (Linden), Alfred Faella (Elizabeth), Al Volpe (Linden), Jim Jeskey (Union).