Bayonne’s Phil Baccarella, ballplayer, coach, legend

By Bob Behre | July 1, 2022

Phil Baccarella, center, with his wife of 49 years, Christine, his family and current Bayonne coach Dave Hoffmann, far right.

The names Baccarella and Bayonne have kind of gone together like peanut butter and jelly over the decades. You can’t have one without the other. Well, you could, but why would you?

Baccarella received the Distinguished Achievement Award last night at the NJ Quad County Underclassmen All-Star Games for his remarkable career both as a player and coach and for his amazingly positive influence on the lives of so many young ballplayers.

Coaches coach and they never really stop, even when they are receiving an honor for doing what they do best.

“When you get out of bed tomorrow, do something to make yourself a better person,” Baccarella told the 80 or so ballplayers representing Hudson, Essex, Union and Middlesex Counties in an off-the-cuff speech during the presentation at Community Park in North Brunswick.

“Do something to make yourself a better player, a better brother, a better son, a better teammate, a better member of the community.”

The 71 year-old Baccarella, who splits his time now in Florida and Brick, N.J., seemed quite taken with the honor. “These four counties are the cream of the crop in our state,” he told the young athletes. “You need to go out and be the very best you can be at whatever you do.”

Baccarella’s family came out with him in a three-generation force to witness the presentation that concluded with the veteran coach receiving fist bumps from the members of all four teams.

Baccarella is the seventh such honoree at the event, which began in 2010 as an Essex vs. Union Underclassmen showcase. Middlesex County was added in 2017 and Hudson came aboard in 2018 as the event grew under the able direction of the event’s administrator Bob Smorol, a Rutgers University grad.

Baccarella’s baseball and athletic resume is truly remarkable when compared to any coach/athlete of his era. We’ll try to do it justice by providing the most impactful highlights.

PHIL BACCARELLA’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

*His .731 (440-162) career winning percentage places him No. 20 all-time in New Jersey among all active and retired coaches.

*He was inducted into the NJ Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2019. He coached 23 years at Bayonne, his alma mater.

*He was inducted into the Hudson County Hall of Fame in 2008.

*He coached Bayonne to 2 Hudson County titles, 2 Sectional championships and 3 HCIAA titles.

*He’s the only 2-sport athlete in the Montclair State College Hall of Fame.

*He led Montclair State to 2 conference championships in baseball.

*He batted over .333 in each of his three years as an MSC starter.

*He led Bayonne to the HCIAA baseball championship his senior season in 1968. 

*He was the Hudson County batting champion in 1968.

*He led Bayonne to the South Hudson baseball championship in 1967 and ‘68.

*He was an All-State and All-Hudson County selection in 1968.

*He’s considered by many to be the greatest athlete of his era at Bayonne High School for his exploits in both baseball and basketball.


The six other recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award are; Rutgers University coach Fred Hill (2015), Seton Hall University coach Mike Sheppard, Sr. (2016), longtime Union High School coach Gordon LeMatty (641-272-4, .702), All-Century Team member Union’s Al Santorini (2018), Edison coach Jim Muldowney and Colorado Rockies scout Mike Garlatti. Coach Hill and coach Sheppard have since passed away.

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