WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Police Athletic League's Opening Day Ceremony recognized another unsung hero in West Orange: Jerry Maglione, aka "Mr. Mags" to hundreds of kids that played baseball and football in the the seventies and eighties.
Maglione, long considered one of the true founding fathers of WOPAL, was clearly emotional as Otto Torrisi recognized his groundbreaking efforts for the kids of the township. His wife, children, and grandson were on hand to celebrate his long overdue induction into the WOPAL Hall of Fame. Several athletes, coaches, PAL trustees, parents, and community members were present for the opening ceremonies, including Councilwoman Sue McCartney and Councilman Jerry Guarino, and Mayor Rob Parisi, whose family has long been involved with the PAL organization. Mayor Rob Parisi spoke enthusiastically about Maglione, and said "Mr. Mags was my coach for many years...he is a fantastic guy."
Mr. Mags' involvement with PAL began in the early seventies when his son played football for the PBA team. He was instrumental in forming the Valley area PBA team and integrating neighborhoods in West Orange previously uninvolved. As the PBA developed into PAL, Mr. Mags was a baseball coach, a football coach, a coach for in-house baseball, travel baseball, in-house football and travel football. He also spent several years as a PAL baseball umpire.
Maglione, now a retired Project Manager in the construction field, spent many hours each week commuting back and forth to West Orange long after his job required that he move out of town. He spoke fondly of his years in the PAL, and the friendships he formed with Vinnie Alabanese, Dan Parisi, Tom Wahlers, and more. He coached many of the current PAL coaches, and board of directors.
Mr. Mags was duly impressed with the WOPAL field and renovations to the grounds over the years. He was excited to see all the kids in their uniforms ready to play and said PAL was a great organization, doing a fantastic job for the kids.
After the induction, the teams headed to field. Orange Garden, Wilmans Auto Body, Vanderhoof Bus, and Ultimate Construction were all gearing up to play despite the chilly weather. After the national anthem was played and a moment of silence taken for the tragic events in Boston and Texas, Mr. Mags tossed out the first ball of the season.
Check the WOPAL website at http://www.wopal.org to find out more about baseball schedules, cheerleading, football and kickball.