LIVINGSTON, NJ — When Livingston’s Joe Valentine lost his six-year battle with cancer in 2013, his Livingston High School Class of 1987 friends vowed to keep his spirit alive through an annual Joe Valentine Memorial Softball Tournament. All day Saturday, Aug. 1 at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, Valentine’s friends are hosting the second annual memorial tournament raising funds for the wife and two children, Caden and Jackson, Valentine left behind.
Valentine, a long-time Livingston resident with a strong passion for softball, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008 and lost his battle six years later. In Valentine’s honor, 12 softball teams were formed for the tournament, collecting proceeds toward the Caden and Jackson Valentine Trust Fund.
“It would mean the world to him because Joe always loved Livingston and that’s where he would want it to be,” said Stan Banner, the fellow LHS alum who organized the event.
Last year, nine teams formed to honor Valentine and his family and Banner said the memorial tournament was a huge success. This year, there are fliers put up at several local stores throughout Livingston, including 7eleven, Bottle King, Kings, Shop Rite and others, advertising the second annual tournament advertising the overload of participants supporting the Valentine family.
With an entry fee of $450 per team, benefitting the Caden and Jackson Valentine Trust Fund, the Organizing Committee has registered 12 teams for this year’s tournament. Banner said the committee had an overwhelming response from friends and family hoping to celebrate Valentine’s memory through the sport he loved so much.
For more than 20 years, many of these men played in softball tournaments with Valentine and adored the time they spent together both on and off the field, before, during and after games. LHS Class of 1987 graduate Tommy Herder recalled Valentine being the best pitcher in their league, stating the team’s adoration for his sportsmanship, and expressed his excitement for honoring Valentine’s memory on Aug. 1.
“We all looked up to him, he was a great athlete and a great friend, so it’s a great thing that we’re keeping this thing going for him,” said Herder. “I know he’s smiling down at us happy as can be that we’re keeping his name alive and his tradition alive.”
Caden and Jackson Valentine, who are both as passionate about sports as their father was, will come to Livingston from their own hometown in Cream Ridge, NJ, to throw the first pitch at the Joe Valentine Memorial Softball Tournament. T-shirts have already been made up in Valentine’s name, to be used as uniforms, and music and refreshment plans are in the works.
Herder said that Valentine, who was an elementary school teacher in Millburn at the time of his passing, is certainly looking down upon the families and friends who are still supporting him in his hometown. Banner encouraged anyone interested in honoring Valentine’s memory to come show love and support on Aug. 1 or to contact the organization committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.