Sam Tropiano’s Bishop Eustace Crusaders gave their longtime coach his 700th career victory on Friday with a 12-0 victory over Camden in Camden.
Already South Jersey’s all-time winningest baseball coach, Tropiano entered the 2021 season 14 victories shy of the milestone reached by only five other coaches in Garden State history. The Crusaders wasted no time putting the mark behind Tropiano.
Bishop Eustace, ranked No. 1 in the NJ.com Top 20, has raced out to a remarkable 14-0 record in 2021.
“They were very efficient weren’t they,” asked Tropiano about the urgency of his charges. “It’s a really special team. They are a great collection of talent and what a pitching staff.”
The Crusaders pitched their 10th shutout in their 14 games. “That’s something that usually takes two or three years to do,” said Tropiano.
It’s taken the better part of 36 years for the 62 year-old Tropiano to reach the highly exclusive 700 Club, All-time leader Kenny Frank of Toms River South is at the precipice of 900 wins. He sits at 898-311-3 after his team’s 11-0 victory over Brick Township today.
Next are the retired Marty Kenney (832-349) of Christian Brothers Academy, Mike Sheppard, Jr. (802-210-5) of Seton Hall Prep, and deceased legends Tony Ferrainolo (754-208) of Memorial (W.N.Y.) and Harry Shatel (752-326) of Morristown.
Tropiano nestles in at 700-251-1, which translates to a gaudy .736 winning percentage.
“I think when a milestones like this happens, it gives you pause and a sense of gratitude about how fortunate you are,” says Tropiano. “I haven’t won one game by myself. All I can think about today is all the great players, great assistant coaches and my great staff right now. And no one can do this without one great supportive wife.”
When a coach wins 700 games, has coached 36 years and is a robust 62 years old, the question begs, how much more for the man known simply as Trop’.
Sheppard, coincidentally also in his 36th year and 62 years old, nailed down his 800th win in a game against Millburn on Monday. Sheppard said, as long as he’s healthy, he has no plans of leaving the coaching box anytime soon.
“I feel the same way,” said Tropiano. “I still enjoy the grind and being a baseball coach is a grind. You are part time farmer, you pitch batting practice, hit fungos. But all that is still super enjoyable to me. Being around kids keeps you young. Every year the kids are the same age. And they are really fun to be around.”
And Tropiano, who teaches AP Psychology at Bishop Eustace, is really good at coaching.
“I enjoy teaching them and coaching them,” said Tropiano, who naturally applies his academic expertise to coaching.
Tropiano’s focus is always on winning or finding different ways to achieve that end. He now begins in earnest a quest for a sixth state championship at Bishop Eustace.
Tropiano coached at St. Augustine Prep the first four years of his career.