South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees


Bruce Carter of Lawnside, is entering the hall as an umpire and also has an impressive high school career at Rancocas Valley High School, where he batted .357 and .383 in 1969 and 70.

His three-year career at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) saw him being named a Division 3 All-American and its Player of the Year.  He spent a year in the Yankees’ organization playing for Oneonta – Single A where he stole 38 bases.

Carter has been a member of the South Jersey Umpire Association since 1992 and is among the most respected umpires in New Jersey.  His career has seen

him umpire state games from the earliest rounds to state finals.

Ed Cuneo Jr. of Hammonton, is a Tusculum (Tenn.) College graduate. He started his baseball coaching career at Edgewood High School in1962, where he also coached basketball. His 1963 and 1965 baseball teams won Group 2 South Jersey championships. New Jersey did not have baseball state champions until 1971.

He gave up baseball to concentrate on basketball and remained at Edgewood until moving on to Atlantic Community College in 1972, where he led the Buccaneers to the Region 19 title in 1975.

Cuneo retired from coaching after that season, but returned to Edgewood in the 80s and assisted coach Bob Lee when the team won the 1989 State Group 3 title. His career includes serving as a scout for the Orioles (1964-73), Royals (1973-77) and Mariners (1977-83). He is a 1956 Gloucester Catholic graduate.

Kevin Fynan of Cinnaminson, is a 1985 University of Georgia graduate, who signed with the Phillies in 1987. He was selected as an all-state pitcher in 1980 at Cinnaminson High School capping off a career that saw him named all-conference, all-county and all-South Jersey his junior and senior seasons.

Fynan pitched in the Phillies’ organization from 1988 through 1990 for Clearwater in the Class A Florida State League and Double A Reading in the Eastern League appearing in a total of 80 games. His lifetime earned run average (ERA) was a respectable 2.96.

He returned home to play for Cinnaminson in the Rancocas Valley League, where he was a 10-time all-star and twice was named Most Valuable Player in the Bridgeton Invitational Tournament

 

Ken Kraft of Mount Holly, signed a free-agent contract with the Phillies in 1982 after graduating from Rancocas Valley High School in 1979 and having a three-season all-star career for Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League (RVL) before signing with the Phillies.

In high school, Kraft was a three-time All-Burlington Conference selectee and All-Group 4 and All-South Jersey in his junior and senior years. At Burlington County College in 1980 and 81, his career batting average of .370 gained him all-conference and all-region honors.

His professional career took him from Bend, Oregon (Northwest League) to Spartanburg (South Atlantic League), Peninsula (Carolina League) and Clearwater (Florida State League). His minor league honors include being named to the all-star teams when he played for Spartanburg and Clearwater.

In 1987, Kraft returned to Vincentown in the RVL and was named to eight straight all-star teams.

 

Mark Michael of Washington Township, was a fourth round St. Louis Cardinals’ draft choice out of the University of Delaware. The 2000 Gloucester Catholic High School (GCHS) graduate went on to a four-year minor league career cut short by injury.

From 2003 to 2006, Michael rose from the New York-Pennsylvania League to the Florida State League compiling a 13-20 record with an ERA of 4.11. Playing for Peoria in the Midwest League in 2004, he was named to its all-star team. Baseball America named him a Top 10 Prospect in 2004 and 2005.

At GCHS, Michael earned all-conference, all-Parochial A, all-South Jersey and all-State honors in 2000. In 1999, he was all Parochial A, all-South Jersey and all-State. He helped lead the nationally-ranked Rams to state titles and Diamond Classic championships in 1998 and 2000 and was named South Jersey and New Jersey Player of the year and a high school All-American.

 

Michael Rucci, Jr. of Williamstown, an assistant coach at Rowan University, had hall of fame careers at Gloucester Catholic and Glassboro State College (GSC) – now Rowan University.

As the Rams’ catcher, he was All-South Jersey and All-State in 2000 and 2001. He was All-Parochial A in 1999, 2000 and 2001, the same years the Rams put together back-to-back-to-back state championships and Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic titles in 2000 and 2001. In 2000, Gloucester Catholic was recognized as the nation’s top high school team.

Rucci’s high school statistics include 126 career hits and batting averages of .406, .477 and .523 in his sophomore, junior and senior years, 13 career homeruns among his 37 extra base hits over the years and 122 runs batted in.

He was a member of the 2001 World Champion Brooklawn American Legion squad and Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Rucci still holds nine offensive records at Rowan (GSC) where he was a three-time all-American.

 

Paul Patsko’s of Mullica Hill, used his strong right arm in his senior year at Willingboro High School to lead the Chimeras to the school’s Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, and Liberty Division Conference championships.

In that 1977 season, Patsko’s statistics included a 13-1 record with a 0.51 ERA throwing 110 innings. He gave up only eight earned runs striking out 102 and walking 44, completing 11 games while tossing four shutouts. During his senior season, Patsko had a 40.2 scoreless-inning streak.

In 1977, the Burlington County Times named Patsko its Player of the Year, the Trenton Times All-Burlington County, and the Courier-Post All-Group 4 and All-South Jersey.

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

Dan Barbara, a 1987 WTHS graduate, went on to play at Old Dominion University where he was a four-year starter and played in the 1990 NCAA Regional playoffs. He was slowed by a fractured heel during his junior and senior seasons, but turned heads in his freshman and sophomore seasons batting over .300 as a switch hitter.

Playing for the Minutemen, Barbara was All-South Jersey, All-Group Four and All-Olympic Conference in ’87. In ’87, he served as Carpenter Cup team captain and in 1986 and 87 played in the Garden State Games. Following his college-playing days, he went on to serve as an assistant coach at Camden County College and played independent baseball in the Tri-County League (1988-2004) winning three triple crowns.

Barbara also played in the Atlantic Coast Baseball League (1990), Salem County League (1988-1991), Mid-Atlantic Senior Baseball League

(1999-2008) and in the New Jersey Independent Baseball League where his team won the 2014 title. His career includes playing on seven independent baseball championship teams.

          Among his other accomplishments are coaching the Washington Township 14-year-olds to third-place in the 2006 Babe Ruth World Series. Overall, Barbara-coached 14 and under Babe Ruth all-star teams have won seven district and three state titles and a regional championship.

          Steve Cordner, an eighth round Chicago Cubs pick in the 1982 major League Baseball Supplementary Draft, spent 1976-79 at Saint Joseph’s-Camden before transferring to Gloucester Catholic after St. Joe’s closed and graduating in 1980.

His achievements earned him All-Parochial in 1978, 79 and 80,

All-Olympic in 1980 and All-South Jersey and All-State in 1980.  In 1979 he was Second Team All-South Jersey and ’78 Honorable Mention. A career highlight was serving as Hall of Fame coach Al Radano’s catcher on Gloucester Catholic’s 1980 undefeated 24-0 state championship team.

One of his career highlights is considered unique: Cordner’s St. Joe’s teammates voted him team Most Valuable Player and at Gloucester Catholic he was voted MVP in 1980.The ’80 team was chosen by the Hot Stovers in 2000 as Team of the Century.

          Among his individual accomplishments are batting over .500 and leading St. Joe’s in hitting in 1978 and 79 and batting .519 with five home runs, 22 doubles and 47 runs batted in at Gloucester Catholic in 1980. In 1979 and 80 he was starting right fielder for the Brooklawn American Legion team winning the state title in ’79.

          During his freshman year at Villanova Cordner batted .368 with seven homeruns and 34 RBI. He spent two years at Gloucester County College in ’81 and ’82 leading the team in the Triple Crown department with the most homeruns, RBI and highest batting average being named team MVP,

All-Region 19 and recipient of the Rawlings Big Stick Award as leading junior college hitter (.449) in the Mideast district.

          He spent four years in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Bob Gaskill is a 1976 Rancocas Valley Regional High School graduate where he earned All-State, All-South Jersey and All-Group IV honors as a first baseman in 1975 and 76. He was All-Burlington County Conference in 1974, 75 and 76. His ’75 and ’76 batting averages were .348 and .466, respectively, and he compiled 51 RBI over his three-year high school career with 19 extra base hits, nine of them homeruns.

          He compiled strong high school pitching statistics, as well, with 16 wins against six losses and an ERA of just over 1.50.

Gaskill took his talents to the University of Pennsylvania playing for Hot Stovers corresponding secretary Bob Seddon from 1977 to 1980.  He was the All-Ivy League third baseman in ’80 – named to Penn’s Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. His Quaker’s stats include 133 hits, 108 runs scored, 27 doubles, 19 homeruns, 120 RBI and a career batting average of .326.

His independent summer baseball includes playing in the Cape Cod Collegiate League (1979), Rancocas Valley League (1976-93), United States over 30 League (1994-99) and Men’s Senior League 35 and over (2000). Gaskill was a 10-time RVL All-Star and six-time U.S. 30-plus All-Star. He played for Bridgeton Invitational championship teams and two U.S. 30-plus New Jersey State Champions.

Nick Gruber graduated from Haddon Township High School in 1995 and entered its Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this year. According to its website, some remember Nick Gruber as a constant presence in the weight room, working quietly and conscientiously toward self-improvement. Others know more about his team leadership as the starting catcher for all four of his high school years. Observers say he knew his opponents and pitchers so well he could reliably call every pitch.

In his senior year, Haddon Township won a share of the Colonial Conference title for the first time in 15 years, and no one doubted his role in that accomplishment at the end of a 20-5 season. He represented his school in the Carpenter Cup, batting .526 on the season. He served as Hawks captain in his junior and senior years.

Gruber caught the eye of the Boston Red Sox and was drafted in the 35th round after high school and assigned him to Fort Myers in the Gulf Coast League.

He was All-Conference and All-Group II from 1993-1995, All-State in 1995 and was chosen South Jersey Baseball Player of the Year in 1995.

 

Scott Lodgek is a 1986 Moorestown High School graduate who went on to star at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill – a team that went to the 1989 College World Series.

Lodgek had two successful minor league seasons after being drafted in the seventh round (pick 169) of the 1989 draft by the Seattle Mariners. Following two successful seasons in the Northwest and Carolina Leagues, he suffered a career-ending injury.

At Moorestown, Lodgek was a member of the 1986 All-South Jersey squad and in 1985 and 86 was chosen All-Group II and All-Burlington County Freedom Conference. In ’86, he pitched in the Carpenter Cup.

As a Moorestown senior, Lodgek recorded an 8-2 record with a 1.52 ERA striking out 109 and walking 28 in 69 innings pitched. He allowed only 41 base hits that year.

 

Bob Minnick enters the Hot Stovers Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. His head coaching began in 1959 with the opening of Pennsauken High School while he was still starring on independent summer teams in Camden County and City Leagues. But he first drew professional scouts’ attention playing at Merchantville High School for the legendary Martin Pocius in 1944 and 45.

In 1945, Minnick entered the Marines and played with the Marines at the Washington D.C. Marine Corps Headquarters in 1945, 46 and 47 again catching the eye of area scouts. After his 1947 discharge, he entered The College of South Jersey (now Rutgers-Camden) in 1948. In 1950, he joined future Hall of Famers Joe Hartmann (HOF ’92) and Doug Frambes (HOF ’00) and eight other prominent South Jersey baseball players in petitioning the administration to form a baseball team. Hartmann and Minnick were elected co-captains – and the baseball program was launched with Camden County Hall of Famer Al Carino as their coach.

In that inaugural season, Minnick batted .315. After the 1952 season, Minnick and two other South Jersey players were invited to try out for the St. Louis  Browns. His went well and with his reputation he was offered a minor league contract to play in Texas in the Brown’s farm system. However, marriage with a young daughter prevented him from fulfilling that dream. Minnick says the offer was not nearly enough to support a family so he turned to teaching and supplemented that doing construction work.

          After graduating in 1952, he took his baseball talents to South Jersey leagues – playing mostly in the Camden City, Camden County and Burlington County Leagues. He played with three teams in the AARON Twilight League including the East Camden Hurricanes and Cramer Hill, which won the league title. He played with two teams in the Camden County League: Haddon Township, and Maple Shade. He batted over .300 on every team for which he played in the AARON and Burlington County Leagues.

          Nate Schill, New Jersey’s 2002 “Player of the Year,” is a 2002 Audubon High School graduate. He took his talents to James Madison University (JMU) starring in the Colonial Athletic Association. His playing resume includes playing third base and pitching for the 2001 Brooklawn American Legion World Series champions.

At Audubon, Schill batted .638 in 2002 with 11 homeruns and 53 Runs Batted In. In in his junior year, he batted .488 with four homeruns and 29 RBI. From the mound, was notched nine wins again four losses with a 1.84 earned run average in his senior year with 62 strike outs. In ’01, his 6-1 win-loss record was accompanied by 39 strikes outs and a 2.66 ERA

During his high school career, Schill was All-State, All-South Jersey, All-Group II, All-Colonial Conference and helped his 2001 squad win the state title.

At JMU, Schill racked up senior year-stats – mostly as a third baseman – that included a .419 batting average (eighth in the nation) and recognition as a third-team All-American. His four-year batting average was .361 with 27 homeruns and 178 RBI.