Bloomfield High athletic director Steve Jenkins made official in an E-mail what most of us have known for a long time.
Bob Mayer, Bloomfield’s long-time softball coach, as well as that school’s girls’ soccer coach for many years, will be inducted into the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Officially, Mayer will receive said induction on March 29, at the Pines Manor, in Edison. Unofficially, anyone who knows Bob gets the fact that he’s represented all that is right with high school athletics for a generation, maybe longer. So, in the minds of most who count, Bob Mayer could have been signing ‘HOF’ next to his name long before the Scholastic Coaches verified it.
Mayer is not only one of the best coaches to come out of Bloomfield High (and that’s saying a lot, considering the Bengals’ history), but he’s also a BHS graduate and an educator in the school system. He’s devoted his entire life to the community and is as humble as they get.
When he won his 400th career game as Bloomfield’s softball coach in 2008, he preferred to thank the Town of Bloomfield for its support.
When his team won the 1999 Essex County championship in softball, Mayer insisted the Bengals wait to take its traditional victory lap around the bases until the opposing ball club had boarded its bus and departed Pulaski Park, so that it didn’t appear to be disrespectful.
He is often called “Mr. Mayer” by Mount St. Dominic softball coach and athletic director, Lorenzo Sozio, because Lorenzo, himself a BHS grad, knew Bob first as a teacher.
When Mayer’s teams lost a close game, he never ducked a reporter, or issued the ‘no comment’ answer that some may do.
For Mayer, softball is a year-long passion. He still speaks reverently of those who once played for him and can probably tell you how that young lady is doing today, in life.
Mayer spends most of his summer coaching Bloomfield in an Essex County league, that he helps coordinate. He’s at every game, hitting infield with the kids, and then coaching with a fevered passion when most feel that it’s just a summer game.
Bob Mayer has garnered a great deal of respect from his peers, as well. The competition in the Super Essex Conference, and before that, the NNJIL, brings out the best in diligent coaches and talented players, and Mayer’s teams have always risen to that challenge.
“If anyone is deserving of a Hall of Fame induction, it is Coach Mayer,” said Immaculate Heart Academy softball coach Anthony Larezza. “I have had the pleasure of knowing Coach Mayer for 20 years. He always got the most out of his players. Whenever you played anyone of his teams, you knew going into that game that they were going to be well-coached, well-disciplined and play hard. Some tremendous players have come out of his programs, and I’m sure they would be the first to tell you that they wouldn’t have been the player or person if it weren’t for Coach Mayer. Congratulations to him and all the people he has influenced.”
Sozio was also thrilled for his friend and colleague.
“Coach Mayer being inducted into the NJ Scholastic Coaches Hall of Fame does not come as a surprise to me,” said Sozio. “He has been a fixture on the diamond at Bloomfield High for many years. When you talk Essex County Softball, Coach Mayer’s name and the tradition at Bloomfield have to be part of the conversation with all the success he has had. Mount St. Dominic Academy (MSDA) has had some great contests over the years with Bloomfield in conference play, as well as Essex County Tournament play. He is one of the hardest working coaches on and off the field that I have seen in Essex County.
“When Bloomfield High is not practicing or playing, you can be sure Coach Mayer is taking in a high school softball game somewhere in the area.
“MSDA congratulates Coach Mayer on his induction into the Hall of Fame.”
Belleville coach Chris Cantarella has coached against Mayer for 15 years, first as an assistant coach, then as head coach, since 2006.
“Bob has always been nothing but professional, his teams are always prepared,” said Cantarella. “When you play against his teams, it is always a battle, and I have enjoyed competing against him and his team over the years.”
Mayer has led Bloomfield to multiple Essex County softball championships, including back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000. He’s also won multiple state sectional crowns and has coached countless All-Conference, All-County and All-State players. He prefers to talk about his athletes, rather than himself.
Sometime in the 2015 season, Mayer will most likely reach the 500 victory plateau for his career, a rare accomplishment in New Jersey. (He’s 12 wins shy going into the season). When he does reach 500, he’ll be just the third coach in Essex County history to reach 500, joining Carl Corino of Belleville and Caldwell’s Mike Teshkoyan, who won his 600th game late last season.
“Congratulations to Coach Bob Mayer on his induction to the Hall of Fame,” said Teshkoyan. “It is quite an honor for him and his program. I have always enjoyed playing against his teams, they fight hard, can hit like heck and are well-coached. He’s a great competitor, and has been a credit to Essex County Softball for all these years.
And now, Mayer’s work will be recognized on the state level, on March 29.
Congratulations, Mr. Mayer….Great job, and thanks for being the man you are.
It makes this honor even more noteworthy.