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South Jersey Baseball History:
The All-Time Sluggers

Sunday, May 2, 1999

By Charlie Schick
South Jersey Baseball Historical Society

There is no question that few individuals in any professional sport have ever had the impact on the game that Babe Ruth had on major league baseball. Without a doubt, the New York Yankees' Ruth completely changed the game with his frequent and towering home runs during the 1920's. Needless to say, the fans of the game responded to his exciting new style of home run baseball, as attendance and national interest in the game skyrocketed.

The livelier ball of the '20s certainly seemed to aid Ruth's powerful swing, as he consistently set a new all-time home run record year after year. Of course, the "Babe" completely captured the hearts of America's sport fans when he hammered 60 homers in 1927, to set a record that most experts thought would never be broken.


In 1961, however, another Yankee outfielder, Roger Maris, stunned the sports world when he surpassed the "Babe's" mark with 61 round trippers. And finally, last year's home run duel between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa turned the world on its ear, as both Sosa, 66 homers, and McGwire, 70 round trippers, demolished Maris' record.

Just as the lively baseball accelerated major league home run production in the 20's and thereafter, the aluminum bat had almost the same impact on South Jersey high school long ball numbers. Until the introduction of aluminum bats into high school play in the mid-seventies, only Ray Dooney, Atlantic City High catcher, and Eastern High's power-hitting duo of Bill Clarke, shortstop, and Mike Pizarro, second baseman, had managed to hit 8 homers in a single scholastic season. Dooney originally set the high school record in 1939, and the two Eastern sluggers both collected their 8 four baggers in 1972.

No South Jersey player topped their mark until 1985, when a stocky catcher, Jeff Cooper, from Buena High clobbered 14 round trippers to set a then all-time South Jersey record. Two other power hitters also flexed their muscles in '85, when Tom Heinkel, third baseman, Bishop Eustace powered 13 homers, a parochial school record, and Craig Yates, third baseman, Burlington City produced 11 round trippers. In 1988, two slugging first basemen Glenn Foley, Cherry Hill East, and Mark Karr, Pennsville, made a charge at Cooper's record, but fell short by 3. Foley, who later became a star quarterback at Boston College, and the powerfully built Karr both produced 11 home runs while leading their squads to outstanding seasons.

In 1989, two power house third basemen, also, broke the double-digit home run plateau. The first was Bruce Stowell of Edgewood High, who powered out 12 big ones, but, the real news of the year was supplied by a strapping hot corner player from Buena High by the name of Angelo Santiago. Santiago simply terrorized local pitchers as he pounded the horsehide for a .568 batting average and set the all-time home run mark with a remarkable total of 16. Much like Babe Ruth, he also distinguished himself as a pitcher, as he completed the '89 season with a 10-1 mark. For his outstanding efforts, Santiago captured numerous honors including; area M.V.P., All South Jersey, and New Jersey All State first team selections.

Just last season, Santiago's mark was seriously challenged by a hard-hitting outfielder from Maple Shade High by the name of Greg Mickles. Mickles, a power-hitting left-hand swinger, led the state of New Jersey in home runs when he blasted 14 four baggers to fall just two short of the all time mark. Besides being recognized as the state's number one slugger, he too gained All South Jersey and All State first team honors.

Other South Jersey sluggers that cracked the double digit home run barrier include; Dan Olson, Lower Cape May (12) 1993, Joe Higman, Lower Cape May (11) 1992, Bill McCarthy, Washington Township (11) 1998, Mike Harris, Audubon (10) 1992, Dan Olson, Lower Cape May (10) 1992, Kevin Olson, Lower Cape May (10) 1992, and Ron Walker, Shawnee (10) 1994.

A quick review of our all-time sluggers list indicates that Lower Cape May High has the most players represented in the elite group, and their star outfielder, Dan Olson, is the only player that appears more than once. In addition, the Lower Cape May squad of 1992 also owns the South Jersey scholastic team home run single season record with a total of 39.

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