A true love story: Ray Kimble, a Mayor, Township Mgr., Police Chief, Husband, Father, Grandfather and a wonderful friend; He will be remembered as a ‘Belleville guy’, through and through, whose love for family spoke volumes

With the beautiful sounds of bagpipes, a large crowd had entered St. Peter’s Church, in Belleville, on July 25, to say farewell to former Belleville, NJ, Mayor Ray Kimble. And as soon as the service began, Ray’s youngest son, Steve, would deliver a powerful eulogy.

The Mayor, Ray Kimble.

“My dad enjoyed a wonderful life,” said Steve. “Dad had a great enthusiasm for life. In his final weeks, you could see it in his eyes, as well as his facial expressions, that he wanted to keep fighting and to live as long as possible, despite the struggles that he experienced.  Dad had a life filled with work that he thoroughly enjoyed, great friends and a loving family.”

Steve’s voice cracked as he praised the Belleville Police Department as the finest in the country.

Mayor Kimble and Sgt. Rich Giordano, of the Belleville Police Dept.

Steve quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with a perfect analogy for what it was like to grow up in Belleville.

“FDR once remarked, ‘Everything that I am is traceable right back to the community where I was raised’,” said Steve. “It is a quote that is relevant to many of us, and it certainly applies to Dad.”

Ray Kimble was 80 years old when God called him home on July 22, 2019. He had served as Mayor of Belleville for a dozen years. A graduate of Belleville High, Ray began his professional career as a police officer in town, before eventually being named Belleville’s Police Chief. He would later be named the Township’s Manager before eventually serving as Mayor.

Ray Kimble, doing what he loved most, being around family.

Ray’s commitment to his community spoke volumes.

His commitment to family, beginning with his wife, the former Marie Marinaro, was legendary.

“Dad’s longest and most prized relationship was the one that he enjoyed with Mom,” said Steve. “They attended grammar school together, grew up in the 50’s with the introduction of Rock ‘n Roll music, and the fabulous cars of that era. 

“They began a courtship at the eighth grade dance, in 1953.  This courtship blossomed into a beautiful relationship that spanned in excess of 6 1/2 decades.  They had diverse interests, as Mom enjoyed traveling, Broadway plays and the opera, whereas Dad enjoyed Atlantic City, card games, sporting events, and the racetrack. 

“Nevertheless, they grew together, by sacrificing for each other, educating themselves, raising their children in a responsible manner, traveling together, spending time with their friends and enjoying the simple things in life such as a day at the beach, a barbeque, or even a walk to the bay in Surf City to watch the sunset. 

“Most importantly, they shared a common bond, the love for their family.  They supported each other throughout their marriage as evidenced by Mom’s dedication to Dad when his health started to deteriorate.”

Marie and Ray would raise four children, Raymond, Steve, Linda and Lisa, all of whom went through the Belleville school system. The couple also has 10 grandchildren.

Ray’s love of sports carried over from his high school days, as a Belleville Bellboy. Later, he would be a huge fan, watching his sons compete for the Buccaneers.

Ray Kimble’s casket is escorted into St. Peter’s Church, in Belleville, for funeral services on July 25, 2019.

“Dad was the captain of his high school football and basketball teams,” recalled Steve. “Dad later served in the Army, then worked for PSE&G, for a brief period of time, (eventually) leaving the company to pursue his dream. 

“In 1964, he began his 54-year tenure with the Township of Belleville, when he became a police officer.  While working his way through the department, he earned his BS and MS degrees, all while raising four children.”

Ray Kimble’s career was certainly fulfilling.

The last Kimble family photo, before Ray’s passing, courtesy of Steve Kimble.

“Not many people can claim that that they had the opportunity to serve as a policeman, the Chief of Police, the Township Manager and the Mayor in the community where they lived for their entire life,” said Steve. “Dad was not motivated by the power or the prestige of these positions, he was inspired to serve the people of Belleville by helping them, to see them prosper and to achieve their full potential. 

“He was so proud of the people of this community, and the athletic teams. He also loved to see people that went on to do great things. He simply made you feel that Belleville was a special place, with special people, and that if you were not part of it, you were missing out on something.”

Steve admitted that Ray’s most enjoyable job in the Township was that of Police Chief. And, most of all, there were those cherished friends, some of whom have surely greeted Ray, in Eternity.

“I could envision Dad reaching the Gates of Heaven, to be greeted by his old friends like Marty McNish, Harry Llano, Sal LoCoco, his mentor, Mike Marotti, Avalanche, Pit, Tony Lombardi, Mike Richardella, Chick Puleo, Carmen Zecca, Vin LiPoma, Al Nufrio and many others. 

“They had a wonderful friendship, in fact, for many years we always knew where we could find Dad at lunch time, it was with his friends at Maryanne’s (a local restaurant and cafe, on the corner of Washington Avenue and Joralemon Street).

An avid sports fan, Ray loved the New York Yankees and New York Giants.

“Right up until his final days, Dad enjoyed watching the Yankee games,” said Steve. “And a week ago, Dad’s good friend, Tom Murphy, arranged to have Bill Parcells call Dad, to offer him encouragement.  I asked Dad, what did you say to Coach Parcells?  Maintaining his sense of humor, he responded, ‘I thanked him for the memories, and although I enjoyed the two Super Bowl wins by the Giants (during Parcells’ tenure as head coach), it would have been nicer if the Giants covered the point spread more often for me in Chickie’s pool.”

As Ray’s health began to decline recently, Steve noted the outpouring of love from friends, who would bring food to his parent’s home, on a nightly basis.

“You could not have better friends than Mr. and Mrs. Mauro,” said Steve. “Every night, they brought food to my parents.  Kenny Borrino, one of my Dad’s friends, dating all the way back to high school, visited him often and so did Jimmy Giuliano, Diane Hernandez, Kevin Esposito and Lee Quinn

“Thank you to all of Dad’s other friends who took the time to visit and comfort him. And Dad’s sister, Carol Pomponio. stuck by him and supported him throughout his life.”

Steve also spoke with love of his older brother, Raymond, his wife, Dena and their children, Raymond and Lucia. Raymond, Steve’s brother, is a member of the Belleville High Hall of Fame.

Ray and Maria’s daughters, Linda and Lisa, are both parents of three children.

“Linda and her husband Sean brought great joy to Mom and Dad with the birth of twin boys – Sean and Stephen and their third child, Sonny,” said Steve. “Equally, Mom and Dad were thrilled when Lisa and John had another set of twin boys – Frank and John three weeks later.  One year later their daughter Maria was born. 

“Needless to say, Dad and Mom’s house in Surf City quickly became very crowded, and Dad enjoyed every minute with his grandchildren, taking them to the beach, going fishing, taking them on the amusement rides, going for ice cream and playing games with them.”

And, of course, Steve recalled his final conversation with his father.

“Last Sunday, when my wife Kelley, our daughter Hannah and our son Steven visited Dad, the last words that he spoke to us as a family were – “I love you.”    

In closing, Steve summarized what his father meant to so many.

“My Dad believed in being firm, but fair, to the people that he worked with. He treated people with respect and dignity, often citing the phrase, ‘treat people the way you would want to be treated.’

“I believe whether it was his friends, colleagues or the members of his family, Dad brought out the best in people by believing in them.  In turn, no one ever wanted to disappoint Dad, and as a result gave their best effort knowing they had a leader who would support them. 

“I know this, for certain, as an average student. He filled me with the confidence necessary and encouraged me to work hard in order to pursue my goals and dreams. 

“We loved Dad deeply, we will miss him dearly and we will grieve. But we will also cherish the memories of Dad, and honor him by continuing to build happy and rewarding lives.”

By mike051893

Remembering Apollo 11: It actually seems more imposing today, with all the technology realized from Apollo, than watching it as a grammar-school kid a half century ago, as the Chathams and Lambertis began a friendship in Belleville, NJ

It was one of those moments that you remember where you were and what you were doing.

July 20, 1969 was a Sunday. Three weeks earlier, my parents and I had just moved from the big city of Newark, NJ, to a neighboring small community in Essex County, called Belleville.

Having grown up in Newark, I had become used to a bigger city environment. But my parents had thought a smaller town, in a new apartment complex, called Bridgebrooke Gardens, would be the ideal move.

We had moved into Bridgebrooke Gardens, in the Summer of 1969.

Anyway, I was a typical grammar school kid that summer. I would go to Camp Dawson, a YMCA day camp in Montville, NJ, for a few weeks. Upon moving to Belleville, we also had access to a brand new swimming pool, but camp was still a nice option, at least for a few weeks.

Camp Dawson was a great place to hang out at, during the summer.

I had to meet a whole new crop of friends in Belleville, and since Fairway Park was right behind the complex I lived in, it didn’t take long.

Nevertheless, the summer of ’69 was a bit strange. While we were living in a new town, our closest friends, the Chathams, also moved into the same Belleville complex we were in, so seeing some familiar faces was nice. Peggy Chatham and I were classmates at Mt. Vernon School, in Newark. We had both lived in the Ivy HIll Park Apartments. We would eventually go to school in Belleville, through high school. Our families had gotten closer, as well.

The space program had often fascinated me. In school, we’d watch some of the blastoffs, and splashdowns, of earlier Apollo programs, along with some of the later Gemini flights.

But this one was different. On July 20, 1969, man was about to land, and eventually, walk on the Moon. Back then, there were six television stations to watch, and all the big networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) were, of course, broadcasting the flight.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first two men to walk on the lunar surface. My mother often thought the entire thing was a Hollywood set up, that the two astronauts were walking on sand in a backyard set in California.

For me, I always wondered what the third astronaut on Apollo 11, Michael Collins, was doing in the command module, Columbia, which was circling the Moon for almost 24 hours, while the lunar module had delivered Armstrong and Aldrin to the surface.

I found it fascinating, that he was by himself, hundreds of thousands of miles away from Earth, while the other two were walking on the Moon. How would the command module and the lunar module link up after the walk?

Thinking about it now, I find it amazing that they made it to the Moon and returned without seemingly a hitch.

Fifty years later, we all know the success of Apollo 11, followed by moon landings of Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17, as well as the miraculous return of Apollo 13.

The Apollo mission had begun with tragedy, when on Jan. 27, 1967, the three astronauts which would have flown on Apollo 1, were killed in a fire during a pre-flight test. Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died exactly one week after my uncle, Arthur J. Abramoff, was killed in Vietnam, while flying a mission for the United States Air Force.

I’ve always associated the Apollo 1 mission to my uncle, since I remember that time all too well. And it should be noted that the Apollo 11 astronauts would leave an Apollo 1 patch, on the lunar surface, to honor the memories of the three slain pioneers.

Fifty years later, I find it hard to believe astronauts Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin were just 39 years old when they piloted Apollo 11. Today, I’m almost old enough to be their father. (Where did that time go?)

My parents and I watched the moon landing, in 1969, on a small black and white television, along with our transplated friends from Newark, Norma and Phil Chatham, and their daughters, my friends, Peggy and Gail.

Fifty years later, our parents have passed on. But the memories of watching Apollo 11 are stronger than ever. It’s hard to believe that the technology we enjoy as normal today, such as a cell phone and/or lap top, is more sophisticated, and powerful, than what took the astronauts to the Moon, and back, in 1969.

The Apollo missions also had another major affect on the world — rapidly accelerating the pace of technology development. The work of NASA engineers at the time caused a dramatic shift in electronics and computing systems, scientists would later confer.

Micro-electromechanical systems, supercomputers and microcomputers, software and microprocessors – were also created using technology developed by NASA over the past half century.

Other technologies from the Apollo 11 mission include:

1. CAT scanner: this cancer-detecting technology was first used to find imperfections in space components.

2. Computer microchip: modern microchips descend from integrated circuits used in the Apollo Guidance Computer.

3. Cordless tools: power drills and vacuum cleaners use technology designed to drill for moon samples.

4. Ear thermometer: a camera-like lens that detects infrared energy we feel as heat was originally used to monitor the birth of stars.

5. Freeze-dried food: this reduces food weight and increases shelf life without sacrificing nutritional value.

6. Insulation: home insulation uses reflective material that protects spacecraft from radiation.

7. Invisible braces: teeth-straightening is less embarrassing thanks to transparent ceramic brace brackets made from spacecraft materials.

8. Joystick: this computer gaming device was first used on the Apollo Lunar Rover.

9. Memory foam: created for aircraft seats to soften landing, this foam, which returns to its original shape, is found in mattresses and shock absorbing helmets.

10. Satellite television: technology used to fix errors in spacecraft signals helps reduce scrambled pictures and sound in satellite television signals.

11. Scratch resistant lenses: astronaut helmet visor coating makes our spectacles ten times more scratch resistant.

12. Shoe insoles: athletic shoe companies adapted space boot designs to lessen impact by adding spring and ventilation.

13. Smoke detector: Nasa invented the first adjustable smoke detector with sensitivity levels to prevent false alarms.

14. Swimsuit: Nasa used the same principles that reduce drag in space to help create the world’s fastest swimsuit for Speedo, rejected by some professionals for giving an unfair advantage.

15. Water filter: domestic versions borrow a technique Nasa pioneered to kill bacteria in water taken into space.

Apollo technology also helped introduce the pacemaker, lap top computer, cordless, lightweight battery-powered precision instruments designed to give surgeons optimum freedom and versatility in the operating room.

It also led to today’s electric screwdrivers, drills and other portable and chargeable devices. Cordless power tools are also used to help build the International Space Station on orbit Apollo technology.

NASA’s digital imaging technology has also been used for CAT scans, MRIs, radiography, heart defibrillator, microscopy in medicine as well as various industrial and manufacturing uses, including the solar panel and the athletic shoe.

The Summer of ’69 would go on to produce some magical moments in sports. The Jets and Giants met for the first time in history, in a much-anticipated exhibition game, with the defending Super Bowl champion Jets winning, 37-14.

Woodstock would dominate the music landscape. Vietnam continued to rage on, with too many casualities.

In October, the New York Mets would win the World Series, beating the supposedly unbeatable Baltimore Orioles, in five games. (Peggy Chatham was a Mets fan, I was rooting for the Orioles, and Peggy would paste a poster by my apartment which read ‘Oriole cookies of chocolate and cream will be devoured by the Mets).

It’s amazing what Apollo 11 did for not only the millions of families watching on television, but its impact on the world a half century later.

By mike051893

Nick Natalizio, a World War II veteran who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, celebrates his 102nd birthday, on July 14, at his home in Belleville, NJ

A gentleman.

A war hero. 

A family man.

A Belleville High baseball fan.

Those are attributes of a truly amazing man, Nick Natalizio, a Belleville, NJ, resident, who turned 102 years young on July 14, 2019.

Mr. Natalizio has lived an incredible life. Yet, if you ask him about it, like most who are part of the ‘Greatest Generation’, Nick was just doing his job.

Well, this man did a lot more than just his job. He served his country in World War II, came home, worked two jobs to make a better life for his wife of 73 years, Jennie, and daughters Ida and Paula. He’s devoted to his grandson, Joe and great granddaughter, Jenna, and gives back to his community simply by being a man.

Nick Natalizio celebrates his 102nd birthday with his granddaughter, Jenna, wife, Jennie and grandson, Joe.

Nick grew up in the First Ward section of Newark, NJ and attended Barringer High School. An avid New York Yankees fan, he joined the United States Army in April of 1941, through the Selective Service and completed his basic training at Fort Dix. From there, he went on Fort Eustis, Va., then traveled west and was stationed in California.

Nick would then be transferred to a naval station in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And on Dec. 7, 1941, Private Natalizio was on the base when the first bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbor.

“I was eating breakfast,” Nick recalled in a 2017 interview, at his home, in Belleville. “What I remember most is I ducked when the attack started.”

Nick would go on to serve his country for the duration of World War II, including a year of service in the Pacific, near the Equator, and was discharged in July, 1945, as a Sergeant.

He and his sweetheart, Jennie, were married in April, 1946, and Nick went to work for the City of Newark. He would also work for the United States Postal Service, as a clerk.

Nick’s grandson is Belleville High’s baseball coach, Joe Sorce, who is also an educator at the school. When Joe joined the Belleville High coaching staff in 2001, there was Nick, cheering on the Bucs.

Nick and Joe at the family home, in Belleville.

“My grandfather has been a regular at the Belleville games pretty much since I started coaching as an assistant,” said Sorce, whose mother is the former Ida Natalizio. “He really enjoys coming to the games.”

Nick has loved baseball for as long as he can remember.

“The Yankees are my team,” he said cheerfully. “Joe DiMaggio was my favorite player, Tony Lazzeri, Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto, too. I’d listen to the games on radio, then watched on television.

“And now, I enjoy watching my grandson coach Belleville High.”

Nick’s family is quite proud of its matriarch.

“He’s a tremendous father and husband,” said Jennie Natalizio. “We are very proud of him,”

In the family’s home is a recognition from His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, acknowledging Jenny and Nick’s 50th wedding anniversary in 1996. There is also a letter from President George W. Bush, written to Nick, on his life’s accomplishments.

Joe Sorce’s mom, Ida, is never surprised by her father’s energy and love of life.

“He’s incredible,” said Ida. “He and my mom have a good life. We all live pretty close, so we check in, but mom and dad are pretty independent. They love each other as much today as they did when they were married. We’re very lucky.”

Nick Natalizio has seen a great deal in over a century of living. When he was born, the United States was in the midst of World War I and Woodrow Wilson was the president. He was born six weeks after John F. Kennedy. Other notable personalities born in 1917 included Marty Glickman, Phyllis Diller, Robert Mitchum, Red Auerbach and Dom DiMaggio.

Nick has seen 18 different United States presidents. He’s witnessed the evolution of airline travel and so much history. He was at Pearl Harbor in 1941, recalls the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

But most of all, he continues to live life to its fullest, and that includes watching his grandson’s baseball team, those Belleville Buccaneers. 

Happy Birthday, Nick !

And many, many, more.

By mike051893

Old Days, Good Times I remember: 48 years later, the memories of playing little league baseball for Biancardi resonate clearly, at Marotti Field; Many others from Belleville recall a different era, too

Old days, Good times I remember
Fun days, Filled with simple pleasures
Drive-in movies, Comic books and blue jeans
Howdy Doody, Baseball cards and birthdays
Take me back, To a world gone away
Memories, Seem like yesterday

It doesn’t take much.

Just the mention of Mike Marotti Field brings back so many memories, for men now in their mid 60’s and various younger ages, as well, who grew up in Belleville, NJ.

The field, of course, was named in honor of Marotti, the one-time Mayor of Belleville and police detective, who raised his family in the Township. Legend has it that Marotti and many of his friends built the place in the early 1960’s. Mike Marotti also served as a long-time manager in the little league, as well.

One of the earliest teams in Belleville Little League history, at Marotti Field.

By the time I was able to play little league ball, in 1971, the field was already a shrine. I remember the first time I ever saw it, in 1970. The Farm League championship, between the Clippers and Cardinals, was a best-of-3 series, and the second game was played at Marotti Field.

The Cardinals that season were close to invincible, but on that night at Marotti, the Clippers won, setting up a decisive third game at Clearman Field, which the Cards won for the title.

Anyway, my point to the Farm League reference was I had never seen Marotti Field before, having moved to Belleville in the Summer of ’69. I had played Farm League ball for the Braves, in 1970, since I wasn’t good enough to make a little league team. And as my dad told me, work hard and get better, and maybe you’ll make the little league (in ’71).

My Biancardi little league team, 1971.

While Farm League was exciting, our games were played at ball fields at Municipal Stadium and Clearman Field, there was something special about Belleville little league. The uniforms were incredible, the park itself was pristine, the scoreboard, the snack stand, the bleachers, the P.A. system, the lights, you name it, it was something else.

So, in the spring of ’71, I tried out for little league ball, again, and you can imagine my happiness when the phone rang at my 725 Joralemon Street home and it was Jim Clenaghan, the manager of Food Fair, a little league team, who called to tell me practice was the next day, at 4 p.m.

All I could remember was coach saying, ‘little league’. I had made it, and the rest of the conversation was a blur.

Food Fair practiced at a small field at Belleville Park and that first day, we actually had a scrimmage against Rotary. Chris Cervasio pitched for Rotary and when I saw him throw, I said to myself there’s no way I can get a hit off this guy.

The little league seemed so much bigger than what I had imagined, but soon enough, I got comfortable with the game and earned a starting spot in right field.

Before the season opener, we were told that Food Fair would not be our sponsor and that Biancardi would take over the naming rights. We had already gotten our (green and gray) uniforms, and green hats, so we had to return them to coach Clenaghan, so they could get re-stitched with the correct name on the front of the jersey (I wore #12), as well as the F on the hat changed to a B.

On Opening Night, we had the ceremonial parade, and later that evening, Biancardi would play Rotary, which was coached by Mike Limongelli. Ironically, Mike’s son, also named Mike, (we called him Mickey) was our starting catcher, and our best-all around player.

Here I am, in my Biancardi/Food Fair uniform, in 1971. Our sponsor had changed, so we had to get the uniforms updated.

I remember that opening night, in early April, and being really nervous. While a lot of players called Marotti Field a mini Yankee Stadium, I called it Shea Stadium, because I was (and still am) a St. Louis Cardinals fan and was partial to the National League game.

We played Rotary on opening night, and fell behind, 6-0, before rallying back late in the game. I actually got on base, with a single and scored when Mickey hit a 2-run homer over the right centerfield fence. We eventually lost, 6-3, but felt we were going to be a good team in 1971.

We would go on to win our next two games, first defeating Wallace & Tiernan, 8-2, on a Saturday afternoon. My pal to this day, Tom Smith, played for W & T, as well as the Mallack brothers, Hugh and Jim.

I had two hits and caught my first ball in right field, which was a thrill. We then defeated Riefolo, which was an ‘expansion’ team that season, 12-5.

There were 16 teams in the Belleville little league that year, with eight teams in the American League and another eight in the National. We would play seven games against our National League opponents, and then start fresh with another seven against the NL, for the second half. The winners of the first two halves of each division would play in the semifinals and the winners of those games would play in the ‘World Series’ of Belleville Little League.

It was a good setup, in that if you didn’t have a good first half, you’d have a chance to win the second half and qualify for the playoffs.

We ended 3-4 for the first half of that season. After starting 2-1, we lost three straight games to Colony Club, 3-1, the Elks, 6-5 and Varsity Club, 12-2, before finishing the first half with a win over Landolfi Funeral Home, which was also a new team in 1971.

I remember Ricky Loma was nearly impossible to hit when we played Colony Club and the game against the Elks, at night, was really exciting. I had the chance to play first base that night, and I remember the crowd was huge that evening. (Night games at Marotti were really special)

The great Mike Marotti (right).

For the most part, it seemed like there were always big crowds for the games, especially at night.  Joe Gelpi was a really good pitcher for the Elks and when we played Varsity Club, Dean Campana would pretty much shut us down, and Anthony Gammaro was an excellent shortstop and hitter.

I did hit a 2-run single in that game against Varsity Club which gave us an early 2-0 lead, and made a catch at first base late in the game, which I couldn’t believe I actually made, in foul territory.

Anyway, we got to the second half and started with an exciting 7-6 win over Wallace & Tiernan. Loma would dominate us in the second game, 5-0, even though I had gone with my dad to the old batting cages in a place now called the Meadowlands, in the hope I could catch up to Ricky’s fast ball, which was blistering.

Roy Tice, another in a long line of great men in Belleville, NJ, threw out the first pitch of the 2011 little league season.

We then went on a 3-game winning streak, defeating Landolfi, and then avenging first-half losses to Varsity Club, 9-6, and the Elks, 5-4. Limongelli hit two homers in the win over Varsity while Ronald (Booper) Beck, our first baseman, also hit a homer. I had the game-winning RBI in the win over Elks, after Joe Gelpi had struck me out twice earlier in the game.

With a 4-1 record, we had a chance to win the second half title, but needed to defeat Rotary, which was 5-0 and had a great lineup. It was July 8, the weather was hot, it was a night game, and everyone was so excited to play.

Unfortunately, Rotary was way better than us and won, 18-3. (There was no mercy rule back then). Beck did hit a homer, but we were down 6-0 early and never got back into the game.

Our season ended on a Saturday morning, July 10, 1971. We were playing Riefolo, a team we felt we could defeat, since we had won earlier that season against them. The hope was we would finish 5-2 for the second half and have an 8-6 overall mark.

The memorial dedicated to Mike Marotti, which was presented in 1999, during opening day ceremonies. Doug Cantarella gave an emotional speech that day, praising Mike’s legacy.

The game went into extra innings, and Riefolo would win, 5-3, in 9 innings. I had a good game, including a pair of doubles, my first extra base hits of the season. In my last at-bat, I thought I might have had my first homer. The ball hit the top of the centerfield fence, and I ended up with a double.

As I walked off the field, for what would be the last time as a player, my father would meet me. And then, I got what I felt was the ultimate compliment, when Mickey Limongelli’s dad, the coach of Rotary, came over and congratulated me on my two doubles.

“Those were some nice hits, Mike,” he said to me. It meant a lot, especially from an opposing manager, like Mike Limongelli, who was truly a wonderful guy.

Of course, no game at Marotti Field was complete without a hot dog, and soda, at the snack stand. (Those hot dogs were incredible).

And speaking of the snack stand, the updated standings were always posted adjacent to the stand, so we’d all know how everyone was doing, in both the American and National leagues.

I was 11-for-30 that year, with six walks and hit .367. I played a pretty good right field and, on occasion, saw time at first base.

The point to this article is that playing little league ball in Belleville was a privilege, and one that, nearly 50 years later, I can still remember with gusto. (And back in those days, the local newspaper would have boxscores, each week, and we’d all cut them out).

Time goes by way too quickly. Mickey Limongelli, our catcher and leader, passed away at a young age some 25 years ago. Mickey’s dad also passed on, as did so many of the coaches who were such a huge part of those good times, including Coach Clenaghan and assistant coach, Joe Norton, of Biancardi.

Mike Marotti passed away, in 1998, and there’s a beautiful monument to his memory by the field house at the ball park, which will always adorn his name. Doug Cantarella, another great guy who coached in the league, passed away in 2005. Chick Puleo, a huge advocate for kids in Belleville, also left us. (I always thought Chick was the only police officer in Belleville, when I was a kid).

We all wore the patch on our jerseys.

Ricky Loma, our nemesis on the field, and a friend off it, died too young, in 2016, and Ed Lowry, a good friend for so many years, who played for Rotary, died suddenly, in September, 2017. Frank Zatorski, who played for the Elks, battled an illness for many years before his passing, in 2014.

I still keep in touch with some of my teammates from 1971, including Joe Norton, Jr., our centerfielder and leftfielder Tommy Bianchi. I will never forget those days, for sure. John Herco, Jim Clenighan Jr., Limongelli, Beck, Anthony Speer, Kenny Gruber, Dominick Rodano, Rich Morowski, Tom Henry, Mike McNulty, Mike Lichamelli and Rich Gaschke were my teammates in 1971. Joe Norton Sr. was the assistant coach.

Doug Cantarella (second from left) was a huge fan of the Belleville Little League and a long-time advocate.

As for that season, Colony Club, which won the first half championship, played Rotary, the second half champ, and Rotary won, 11-2. I couldn’t believe a team actually hit Loma that hard in a game.

Rotary would go on to play Amvets, which had dominated the American League. Amvets, coached by Mike Marotti, won the championship, sweeping Rotary.

There’s a reason why I can still recall all those scores and a reason why so many others still have their team pictures from 40 years ago, or longer.

It’s because it was a wonderful time to grow up. My pal Rocco Balsamo, who played little league ball during that era, and I often talk about those great times, which included a respect for our family, our coaches and our friends.

They were, indeed, the times of our lives.

Old days
Good times I remember
Gold days
Days I’ll always treasure
Funny faces
Full of love and laughter
Funny places
Summer nights and streetcars
Take me back
To a world gone away
Boyhood memories
Seem like yesterday

By mike051893

Hailing from a close-knit family, Bloomfield High grad Kyle Tice will continue academic and athletic career at The College of New Jersey; Coach Mike Carter praises Tice as a consummate leader

Kyle Tice’s athletic career at Bloomfield High speaks volumes.

The recently graduated Bengal was a standout on the football field and baseball diamond. He’ll continue playing football on the collegiate level, at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing, this fall.

And while Kyle excelled athletically, he also did the job in the classroom.

The son of Lorajean and Steve Tice, older brother of Emily Tice, nephew of Brian Tice and the late Kevin Tice and grandson of Lena and the late Roy Tice and Charles and Dorothea Hesse, the confident, but reserved Tice appreciated his time at Bloomfield High.

Kyle, with his mom, Lorajean, sister, Emily and dad, Steve, after the annual Robeson Classic, on June 13, 2019.

“I had the time of life,” said Tice. “My high school coaches (Mike Carter for football and Michael Policastro, in baseball) gave me the opportunity to succeed, and I learned a great deal from both of them.”

Tice passed for nearly 1,900 yards in his senior year while throwing 20 touchdown passes and scoring twice on runs, for the Bengals. For his varsity career, Tice passed for 2,693 yards and 27 touchdown passes.

Carter, Bloomfield’s long-time head coach, appreciated Kyle’s work ethic.

“Kyle is a strong leader,” said Carter. “He has a tremendous work ethic, that he developed over his high school career. Kyle was raised with great values, by an outstanding family.

“He was highly recruited by TCNJ to play quarterback. He’ll gain a tremendous education there.”

Kyle, here with Bloomfield football coach Mike Carter, after the Robeson Classic.

Tice was voted a team captain at the 26th Paul Robeson Classic this past June. He was also a captain for the football and baseball teams at BHS.

On the baseball field, Tice helped lead the Bengals to a sectional championship game in 2019. He hit .305 on the season and drove in 25 runs. In the state playoffs, Kyle was especially effective, hitting three homers and driving in eight runs. He was also a good pitcher, striking out 20 batters in 17 innings of work.

“I love both baseball and football,” said Tice. “Baseball was my first love. I started playing when I was 4 or 5 and football a few years later.”

Tice plans to major in Criminal Justice at TCNJ and has future aspirations in the field of law, and possibly with the FBI.

Kyle will trade the red and white of Bloomfield High for the blue and gold of TCNJ.

The family aspect to Kyle is very important.

“My family is very close,” he said. “I’m looking forward to college and meeting new friends, but it’s important that my family gets the chance to see me play in college, too.”

Tice’s dad, Steve, was also a quarterback, at neighboring Belleville High. Kyle’s mom and dad were both Belleville grads and the connection with Belleville remains strong.

“Oh yeah, I’ve heard about my dad’s football days,” he said with a smile. “He played with some great guys in high school.”

Steve’s older brother, Kevin and younger brother, Brian, were also involved with sports during their high school days.

Kyle’s decision to attend TCNJ had a lot to do with the coaching staff there.

“The coaching staff is outstanding,” he said. ” I knew how strong the academics are there, and once I had the chance to visit, I knew it was the right school for me. The facilities are great. I can’t wait to get started.”

Tice will work on his strength and speed over the summer, before practice begins in August.

“It’ll be here before you know it,” said Tice. “But in the meantime, I want to enjoy the summer, work on my game, and spend time with my family and friends.”

By mike051893

‘If You Believe in Forever, then Life is just a one-night stand’; Happy Birthday, to my mother, Marilyn Lamberti, and Happy Anniversary to she, and my father, Elias

When it comes to a special day in the life of someone I love, and that person has gone on to what I believe is a wonderful life in Eternity, I prefer to not speak in the past, and say this would have been so-and-so’s birthday, etc.

My mother, at age 4, with her favorite pooch, in Ventnor, NJ/
Memories of my mother growing up in Ventnor and Margate, NJ.

Instead, I’ll say this. Happy 84th birthday, on July 8, to my mom, Marilyn Lamberti. In addition, my mother and father, Elias, were married on my mom’s 21st birthday, meaning today is also my parent’s 63rd wedding anniversary.

Marilyn and Elias, cutting the wedding cake, July 8, 1956.
A great time in Miami Beach, 1968.

I am buoyed by the thought that my parents are celebrating their anniversary together, for the first time in many, many years. My father passed away on Jan. 22, 2004 and had battled with dementia long before his passing.

For the last six years, my mother always enjoyed when I got her a birthday cake, and part of me would love to go out and get her a cake today.

Anyway, I miss you, Marilyn. There have been little signals that you’re there, for me, since last November 27, when you were called home by God.

You always were my biggest fan.

You always believed in me.

I’ll never forget that. 

By mike051893

Joyce, Puntolillo, Lucarello, Woodard and Kuhn named as team captains for 2019 Wayne Hills football team

Three and a half hard days of football camp was culminated by Wayne Hills, at East Stroudsburg University, with the naming of five team captains for the upcoming season.

Head coach Wayne Demikoff has taken his team to East Stroudsburg since he was named head coach in 2013. Prior to that, the Patriots were regular visitors to ESU, under head coach Chris Olsen, with Demikoff an assistant on that staff since 1999.

2019 Hills team captains, left to right, Christian Puntolillo, Michael Joyce, Nick Lucarello, Jack Woodard and Gabe Kuhn, along with head coach Wayne Demikoff, after 3 1/2 days of work at East Stroudsburg University.

This year’s camp went well, according to Demikoff.

“I had to get on them a little during camp, because I felt we weren’t as intense as I would have liked,” said Demikoff. “But by the end of camp, I really liked the way we were going after it. Overall, I’m very pleased.”

The Patriots left for camp in the early morning hours of June 30 and had a full day of work once they arrived. Full days followed on July 1 and 2, before a half day of practice on July 3, and then the bus ride home.

The team stayed in the dormatories at ESU. The camp is always well attended by a number of high schools. The camp is non-contact, for the most part, with individual and team work/practice, as well as 7-on-7 competitions against other teams.

“The kids are sore and a little tired,” said Demikoff. “They’ll get the rest of the week off and we’ll be back on the field practicing, on July 8.

The team captains for this year will be seniors Michael Joyce, Christian Puntolillo, Nick Lucarello, Gabe Kuhn and Jack Woodard.

“They’re all excellent choices,” said Demikoff of the new captains. “There are four or five other guys who would have been good choices, too. A lot goes into this, and you hate to see kids disappointed, but being a leader is more than being a captain. It’s taking a role and embracing it.

“We’ve had kids who weren’t named a captain, but stepped up in such a big role for our teams that went on to a state championship game and for some, who won a championship.”

Joyce will be a key to the team’s backfield, as well as on defense in 2019 while Puntolillo will play wide receiver and defensive back. Lucarello, Woodard and Kuhn are talented linemen, on both offense and defense.

A lot goes into the selection of captains for the Patriots. The program has enjoyed a lot of success, including 10 state championships since 2002 and a North Group 4 Rothman Bowl game victory in 2018.

“The decision on captains are made by the players, and coaches,” said Demikoff. “It’s a big step for our team.”

Wayne Hills is 49-19 since Demikoff took over as head coach, with three appearances in the sectional championship game, two state championships, an undefeated season and a bowl game crown. Hills has won 39 of its last 48 games, under Demikoff, as well, and has played three times at MetLife Stadium.

The naming of team captains is always a big moment at Wayne Hills. Top to bottom, the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 team captains are pictured. Those four teams combined for a 39-9 record, three appearances in the state sectional final, two state championships and a Bowl game victory. A number of those captains went on to play on the collegiate level.
By mike051893