In planning for the April 23 dedication of Clearman Field to be re-named the Corino Softball Complex at Clearman Field, there were obviously plenty of concerns, among the powers-that-be, mainly Jeanne Lombardi and Chris Cantarella.
The first, of course, was the weather. There was talk of a 30% chance of rain on Saturday morning, but it was supposed to be clear up by late morning. Okay, that’s fine. Clearman Field has been long known for its similarity to the Mojave Desert, in that it could pour two hours prior to a game, and the field would be completely dry by the first pitch.
The next was the turnout of fans, players and friends. There was no question that Carl Corino’s family would be on hand, big time, and the initial show of interest appeared to be good.
But, you never know.
The morning began with an 11 a.m. game between Belleville and New Providence, in a varsity matchup. As the game progressed, the fans began to fill Clearman Field, and by 1 p.m., an hour before the dedication ceremony was scheduled to commence, the place was hopping. I was comparing the arriving crowd to a scene out of the Godfather, during Connie’s wedding. It was classic Belleville, NJ.
In a nice gesture, Caldwell coach Mike Teshkoyan and his brother, Mark, were in attendance. The Teshkoyans are the all time leaders in wins for high school softball in Essex County. But there was a time that Carl was the winningest coach, in state history. There was often a very intense battle between Caldwell and Belleville, especially in the 1980’s, but the respect shared between the coaches never wavered, and it was great seeing Mike and Mark there, to congratulate Carl.
And as the ceremony neared, the weather continued to break perfectly. Bright sunshine adored the field, so when varsity head coach Chris Cantarella began his introductions, the large contingent of former players, parents, family and friends was ready for a party.
What they got was just that. Belleville Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Tomko, who was a driving force in the dedication being possible, spoke of Carl’s legacy.
Former BHS softball coach Cheryl Marion Zenobi gave a beautiful speech. Phil Cuzzi, a long-time Major League Baseball umpire, spoke of his long-standing friendship with Carl, Jimmy and Mark Corino.
Memories of Carl’s parents, the late Jennie and James Corino, flooded the ceremony.
George Zanfini was remembered.
And then the crowd headed to the sidestreet, next to Clearman, to see the unveiling of the sign. The crowd cheered loudly, and finally Carl had his moment to say thank you.
He acknowledged that naming every person he saw that day would be impossible, but they were all in his heart.
And Carl was right, because the turnout was INCREDIBLE….
And then there was an alumni game, with former BHS players being the first to play on the new Corino Softball Complex’s diamond.
Everyone had a good time. And the party moved to Michael’s Roscommon House, where everyone enjoyed a nice buffet of food and some drinks. A poignant video on Corino’s career, with great photos, brought the house down. That video was put together by Jeanne Lombardi.
The day was symbolic of what made Belleville a special place, and for one night, it was indeed, the center of all our universes.