MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Baseball and softball players of all ages gathered at L’Affaire Banquet Center recently to honor three student athletes and induct four new members into the Union County Hall of Fame.
About 240 people attended the 76th annual Hot Stove League Dinner, including the four new Hall of Famers and the student athletes who received the award for Most Valuable Scholastic Baseball and Softball Players, including two Westfield baseball players.
The three student athletes that were honored at the dinner were Dan Kerr, AJ Murray, and Jackie Lima. Kerr and Murray shared the honor of the Baseball award and Lima received the Softball award.
Kerr and Murray both played baseball for Westfield High School. Kerr was the first baseman and Murray was the catcher for their team.
Both were unable to attend the event because of their baseball commitments at their colleges. Kerr attends Brown University and Murray attends Georgia Tech. There to receive their awards was Kerr’s father and Murray’s high school coach.
The Hall of Fame Inductees were Dennis McCaffery, Ed Murzinski, Jamie Shriner, and Bob Riesener. They all started their baseball careers at young ages and are originally from the Union County area including Roselle Park and Linden.
Riesener had a lot to say about his years of playing the game and his coaching career which is still in full swing. He not only had an amazing record as Linden High School’s pitcher, 10-1 during his senior year, but he also went on to play pro-ball with the Alexandria Aces and went 20-0. To this day, his record still stands and is noted in Ripley’s Believe It or Not books.
After being in the spotlight as a player, he took on the coaching role for a total of 40 years. 34 of those years were spent coaching college teams; four years at Livingston University in Alabama and 30 years at the University of Montevallo in Alabama.
In 2003, Riesener retired but the last couple years he has continued to coach a local high school baseball team because he said, “I couldn’t get it out of my system.” He believes that what he’s doing as a coach is influencing young people in a positive way.
This is Riesener’s sixth Hall of Fame Induction for his excellence not only as a player but for his coaching abilities and all he’s done in the game.
Lima played centerfield for Linden High School. She started with T-ball when she was little and has been playing softball ever since.
During her freshman and sophomore years, she played for her high school team and made it to the County Finals. During her junior year, she temporarily gave up on softball to focus on playing soccer. Right at the end of the softball season, she played their last game but broke her finger and while icing her hand, she got hit in the face with a foul ball and dislocated her jaw.
“It was a long junior year,” she said.
When her senior year came around, she was motivated to make her softball team win again like they had during her freshman and sophomore years. “I worked my butt off my senior year,” she said.
Now attending Ramapo College, she’s continuing with her softball career. When she found out about the award she would be receiving, she was surprised, and her teammates from high school were supportive and felt that she definitely deserved it.
Two special guests were also invited to the event: Tommy John and Ray Korn. Tommy John is a former Yankees player in the early 1980s, known for the surgery that is named after him -Tommy John surgery.
Ray Korn was a head coach and director at Elizabeth High School and he too was also a Union County Hall of Famer. Both men were there to support the new inductees, the student athletes, and all that came to celebrate their achievements in the great game of baseball.