South Jersey Baseball:
Friday, April 23, 2004
By Dan Loney
The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, announced today that Sonny Pittaro, head coach of the Rider University baseball team, will be inducted into the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior to June 7th's 7:05 p.m. game against Portland.
Now in his 34th season as head coach, Pittaro has compiled over 750 wins which ranks in the top 30 among active coaches. He remains the winningest coach in Rider history. Over the course of those years, he has led his team to nine conference championships and eight NCAA Regional Tournaments. In 1987, Pittaro guided the Broncs to the championship round of the NCAA Regional tournament and the team ended the season ranked 24th in the nation. For many of Pittaro’s players, the end of the season has not meant the end of their careers. Of the numerous players he has coached, 38 have gone on to professional baseball, with three of them making the majors.
“I consider Sonny Pittaro to be the ‘Dean of Rider Coaches’ not only because of his 34 years of service to Rider, but particularly for all that he has accomplished during those 34 years in leading the baseball program to success in so many ways,” said Rider Athletic Director Curt Blake. “His involvement on the national level for the betterment of collegiate baseball provides testimony of his dedication and love for the game.”
Although his on-field accomplishments certainly highlight a successful career, Pittaro’s off-field honors reflect even more about him. Pittaro has twice been named the Diamond Baseball Coach of the Year in the East Region, as well as twice earning both the East Coast Conference Coach of the Year and the New Jersey Baseball Writers Association’s Univesity Division Coach of the Year. He has also been the NEC Coach of the Year in 1994 and the MAAC Coach of the Year in 2001. He received the prestigious Ralph DiLullo Award by the East Coast Scouts Association. Of all his honors, perhaps none represent his dedication and success as well as his recent election into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His election caps off an emotional year for Pittaro, who announced he will retire at the end of the 2004 baseball season.
“Sonny has been a tremendous part of baseball in the area and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to induct him here at Waterfront Park,” said Thunder General Manger Rick Brenner.
Pittaro’s path to success began in Trenton, where he attended Trenton High School. Playing soccer, basketball and baseball during high school, he was an All-City selection in both basketball and baseball his senior year. He was elected into the Trenton Hall of Fame in 1999. Pittaro went on to earn a B.A. from Brown University and a Master’s from Temple. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for 43 years. The couple has two children, Chris and Elena, and six grandchildren.
Pittaro joins George Case, Harold Bus Saidt, James F. Maloney, Al Downing, Steve Braun, Bob Ryan, Tony Clark, Nomar Garciaparra, Samuel J. Plumeri, Sr., Michael L. DeCello, Maurice “Mo” Cunningham, David Eckstein, Ken Macha and the ’48 Trenton Shroths as members of the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame.
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