NEWTON, NJ—While baseball season started a little over a month ago, the Newton High School baseball team did not have their first home game for two weeks due to field conditions.
On the day of their first home game, the sun was shining and the field was in perfect condition, almost like someone was looking out for the team. That someone was Newton Brave legend, Wallace “Hank” R Smith.
Smith passed away on January 2 of this year at 84 years young and his death affected not only his family and friends but the entire Newton community.
In honor of his dedication to the Newton Braves baseball team and the town, money was raised in order to refurbish the existing score board at Memory Park to be in memory of Smith.
Generous donations from residents came pouring into Debbie Danielson, the Recreation Supervisor for Newton’s office and soon enough, the scoreboard became a reality.
“Through the extreme generosity of Jay Fischer of AG Choice and Mike Miller from George’s Salvage, we were able to meet our goal,” Danielson said during the dedication ceremony.
Fischer, who is an alumni of Newton along with Miller, said that he donated because he remembered being on this very field playing baseball and how it made him feel.
“I wanted to be able to give back to the community that I grew up in. The community must all come together to make the town we live in a better place, so I figured why not help start it by giving back to the very field I once played on in hopes that maybe other businesses and companies in town will follow suit.”
In attendance at the ceremony was Smith’s family which included his wife Barbara, his daughter Vicki, his grandsons Derek & Anthony, and his brother Ronnie and his wife Beverly.
Along with the entire Newton Baseball team, community members including Councilwoman Sandra Diglio, Mayor Wayne Levante, Town Manager Thomas S Russo Jr. Freeholder Carl Lazarro, Newton Superintendent Dr. Ken Green, and Newton’s Assistant Principal/Athletic Director, Ryan Hashway, were also present for the unveiling of the scoreboard.
“Hammering Hank, as he was known to many, was past president of the NJAL and past member of the Newton Recreation Commission,” Danielson said. “Hank dedicated many countless hours suited up behind the plate as an umpire. The hours, or even years of dedication that Hank devoted to the town is beyond countable. Hank was an icon to the Braves organization and very passionate about never missing a game. He was the voice on the sidelines and the keeper of the scoreboard controls. We will miss Hank, but we know for sure when the players take the field today, they will have an angel watching over them from the skies above.”