The high school baseball season begins next week and last night the Shore Baseball Coaches Association held their 23rd Annual Coaches/Players Sportsmanship Banquet at the Spring Lake Manor. The event brings together many of the shore’s top players and serves as a pre-season get together featuring plenty of camaraderie and story-telling just before the first pitch of the season is thrown.

I was among those who spoke at the invitation of Art Gordon, the President of the Baseball Coaches Association who did much of the work to put the well-attended event together. Other speakers included Monmouth University coach Dean Ehehalt and Bill Douglas, the president of the Shore Umpires group.

In addition to setting a positive tone for the new season the banquet also honored coaches for their service to the organization and others for their achievements in 2011. Brick “Green Dragons” coach Jason Groschel received the “Al Kunzman Award” as the Ocean County Coach of the Year while the Monmouth County recipient of the “Rich Veth Award” was Brian Boyce of Manalapan. The “Al Fantuzzi Award” to the Ocean County Assistant Coach of the Year was presented to Jackson Liberty’s Keith Smicklo while the “Jake Landfried Award” which honors the Assistant Coach of the Year in Monmouth County went to Paul Crivello of Monmouth Regional.

COACHES HONORED

A quartet of coaches were singled out for their contributions to the sport and organization and that group included Manchester’s John Musolf, who has spent the last decade giving his time to the Carpenter Cup team . Also saluted were Todd Schmidt of Wall, Monmouth Regional’s Ted Janusz and former Rumson head coach Kevin James.

I congratulate the 27 schools that showed up with anywhere from 2-12 players even though in many cases they were coming direct from practice or a scrimmage.

It was great see some old friends like Toms River’s veteran trio of Ken Frank, Ted Schelmay and Bill Frank and younger coaches like Central’s John Scran and Jim Rankin of Jackson Liberty.