Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. paid tribute to the legacies of Baseball Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Star-Ledger Sports Columnist Emeritus by dedicating four bronze plaques on Monday, June 6th at the Essex County Government Complex. The plaques are located along Legends Way, the promenade on the south side of the Essex County Hall of Records, where rows of plaques commemorate people whose contributions shaped and influenced Essex County. These three baseball legends and Star-Ledger Columnist Emeritus influenced the world, but began their professional careers in Essex County.
“Yogi Berra, Larry Doby and Monte Irvin each have strong ties to Essex County. They either were born or lived here, started their baseball careers here and influenced generations with their athletic accomplishments and generosity to others. They played during a golden age of baseball, helped modernize the game and unified people of all races and ethnicities through their tough play, calm demeanor and the integrity they had in their professional career and personal lives,” DiVincenzo said. “Jerry Izenberg influenced and entertained generations of readers with his columns in the Star-Ledger. Outspoken and direct, Jerry was not afraid to share his opinions and always did what was best for the people of Newark and Essex County,” he said.
“Being included in our Legends Way is an honor reserved for people who have made a difference in Essex County. It’s a living tribute to our history and constant reminder of those who are responsible for making Essex County the great place it is,” the County Executive stated. “Yogi, Larry, Monte and Jerry mean a great deal to our country, but we cannot forget that all they accomplished started right here in Essex County,” he pointed out.
“It is a privilege for me to talk about these three men, who were great friends of mine,” Star-Ledger Columnist Emeritus Jerry Izenberg said. The columnist shared stories of how he met each icon, funny anecdotes of times they spent together and what each had to overcome to obtain success. “They each became great friends and what is happening here today, to have them stand side by side, is historic and is long overdue. They made history, but they also shared one thing – they loved the game they played,” he added.
“The accolades given to my father are truly amazing. Thank you so much for keeping his legacy alive,” said Larry Berra.
“I am honored and proud to be part of the ceremony today. To have three guys who, 60 years ago, could have been playing on a field not too far from here, then became lifelong friends. It makes us all proud,” Larry Doby, Jr. said.
“It’s wonderful that the County Executive made this possible, and these plaques will be here on these grounds to teach and remind younger generations of these men and their contributions,” said Pamela Irvin Fields.
Dave Kaplan, Director of Programs at the Yogi Berra Museum, said dedicating the three plaques is similar to the mission of the museum – “to inspire young people to live remarkable lives. Today is a wonderful lesson in how to treat people and to understand that the color of someone’s skin is not important.”
The dedication of the plaques was well received by local officials, who extolled not only the three men’s accomplishments on the playing field, but the character and leadership they exhibited off of it.
“These three men are among our greatest athletes of all time – and they are all connected to Essex County,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said, recounting a conversation he had with another sheriff about celebrities who lived locally.
“This is a very esteemed group of individuals who epitomize athleticism and, more importantly, the virtues of humanity,” Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones said.
“I want to thank County Executive DiVincenzo because these types of events that he hosts make us proud to be in Essex County and Newark,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “You are teaching us our history and reminding us how great we were and how great we can be,” he noted.
“We all know Yogi Berra, Larry Doby and Monte Irvin had unbelievable prowess as baseball players, and the careers they had were unparalleled,” Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said. “But what I am most proud to honor them for their contributions to our community, their philanthropy and their duty to our children,” he added.
“Monte Irvin means such a great deal to the people of Orange. We recognize his leadership and legacy and the contributions he made both during and after his days of playing baseball,” Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren said.
“We are in awe of the magnificent people that Essex County has nurtured throughout its history. We thank the County Executive for his vision in selecting these three accomplished men,” said Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake, who was accompanied by Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill, and Freeholders Lebby Jones and Rufus Johnson.