Ridgewood’s Hommen joins elite 600-win club

By Bob Behre | April 14, 2024

It was a typical April Saturday in Kurt Hommen’s life. It was windy, cold and uncomfortable and he was coaching his baseball team to yet another win.

Although this win carried a bit more significance in the scheme of things, particularly in regard to New Jersey high school baseball history.

When Ridgewood (5-0) completed its 16-2 assignment against Bergen County rival Emerson, its English teacher coach had nailed down career victory No. 600, joining an elite group of now 16 coaches who have reached what can only be described as the Masters in Baseball Mentoring.

“I’ll be honest, when I look at the list with these coaches and see the big numbers like 900 wins, 800 wins, 700 wins, it makes me think back at my career and wonder how I got here,” said Kommen. “I have such respect for those coaches on that list.”

He got here through outstanding mentoring of young men and establishing a level of success at two high schools that is truly unrivaled.

Hommen’s 600-278-1 (.683) career record was forged at Tenafly, where he posted a 309-156 (.678) record from 1990-2008, and Ridgewood, 291-122 (.705) from 2009 to present. So, with nine more wins at Ridgewood, Hommen will become the first coach in state history to win 300 games at two different schools. Remarkable.

“I’ve been lucky to have coached at two great schools and to have a lot of really good players through those (33) years,” said Hommen.

Hommen taught English at Tenafly for 30 years, took a year off, then joined the English department at Don Bosco Prep and has been there since. To fill in any free time he may have during the offseason, Hommen coaches the Ridgewood junior varsity basketball team.

Hommen’s next target on New Jersey’s All-Time Victories List is our friend Frank Salvano of St. Joseph (Mont.), who owns the all-time Bergen County wins record at 630. The now retired Salvano forged a terrific 630-184-1 (.774) record on the diamond and made St. Joseph’s a statewide power for decades.

Hommen entered the 2024 season with 595 victories and his Maroons wasted no time in getting their coach to the milestone, opening at 5-0.

“It’s good to get it out of the way,” said Kommen. “Not for me, but I know it was on the kids’ minds. Now we can just move on and concentrate on what is important ahead.”

Hommen’s 1994 Tenafly team won the Bergen County Tournament championship, a feat he repeated in 2019 with his Ridgewood Maroons. That Ridgewood team gave Hommen his first state (Group 4) championship. Hommen and the Maroons took home the Group 4 championship again last year. If it seems like Hommen has built a head of steam in his coaching career, that .705 winning percentage at Ridgewood would be the first clue.

Despite the 5-0 start and his team’s 16-2 victory yesterday, Hommen says his 2024 team “is still a work in progress. We graduated our entire infield. But we have a couple good wins, including beating Bergen Catholic on opening day. They’ve responded well.”

Ridgewood put Emerson (4-2) away with a 10-run top of the sixth inning and mashed 15 hits in the contest. Bobby Kuenzler was the hitting star, ripping a double and a home run, driving in three runs and scoring four times. Jack Power had a strong start, limiting Emerson to two runs on two hits over five innings while striking out nine and walking two.

Matt Bond (2-for-3, double, 2 RBI, 2 runs), A.J. Tretoia (2-for-4d, 2 RBI, run), Alex D’Angelo (2-for-2, 2 runs) and Diego Reilly-Bell (2-for-4, RBI, run) contributed mightily to Ridgewood’s 15-hit attack. Owen Laffey closed out the 10-run rule affair with a scoreless bottom of the sixth, striking out the side around a hit and a walk.

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