Baseball standout unfortunately will never play with Golden Bears
By Jim Hague
It was a day of celebration for baseball standout Jesus Colon.
The Lyndhurst High School senior was all set to sign his national letter of intent to attend Marshall University last week. Colon’s parents were on hand. So were his grandparents and other members of his family.
The Lyndhurst Golden Bear marquee sign was put into place for Colon to sign the actual letter with Lyndhurst athletic director and baseball coach Butch Servideo and track and field coach Tom Shoebridge, a man with tremendous ties to the West Virginia institution, looking on.
It had been quite a while since Lyndhurst held a letter signing presentation for a Division I baseball player, but this one was definitely a unique setting.
That’s because Colon, who is a premier pitcher and a talented shortstop, will never play a single inning for Lyndhurst.
“It is pretty weird,” Colon said while officially signing his scholarship papers. “It’s really disappointing that I won’t be able to play here.”
The reason? Colon has already celebrated his 19th birthday, which makes him ineligible to play under NJSIAA laws.
Here’s the scenario. Colon, a native of Brooklyn, was shipped to Perkiomen School, a boarding school in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, to begin his high school career. Colon spent three years at the school and earned a reputation as a solid baseball player there.
After three years, Colon transferred to The Knox School, another private school in Nissequogue, Long Island.
“I’ve been all over the place,” Colon laughed.
In September, Colon was all set to transfer to the Bucky Dent Baseball Academy in Delray Beach, Florida, a school/baseball facility owned and operated by the former New York Yankees shortstop and hero of the famed American League East playoff game against the Boston Red Sox, a game that is still bemoaned by Red Sox fans to this very day.
But Colon didn’t find the academy to his liking.
“There were some promises that were made that weren’t kept,” Colon said.
Colon was searching for another place to go to school. So his father, Jesus, Sr., suggested Lyndhurst. The elder Colon has been residing in Lyndhurst for the last three years.
“I knew it was a good school and it was a good place for Jesus to play baseball,” the elder Colon said. “I was looking forward to having Jesus come home and play baseball here.”
So in September, Jesus, Sr. brought his son to Lyndhurst to enroll.
When Servideo heard the news that the younger Colon was a baseball player, he was eager to have him aboard. Servideo then did some research online and found some startling news about his new prodigy. Servideo saw items about no-hitters Colon pitched last spring while at Knox. There were videos of Colon’s appearances at several different talent showcases. There were other videos showing Colon throwing fastballs clocked at 92 miles per hour.
It was only natural that Servideo would feel like he hit the lottery.
“That was on a Thursday,” Servideo said. “On Friday, after he enrolled, I got the bad news.”
It was then that the guidance office pointed out that Colon was not eligible to play high school baseball in New Jersey.
“I was devastated,” Colon said. “I thought I was going to be able to play. I thought New Jersey rules were different. It’s really disappointing. It looked like it was going to be a great place to play.”
“It was a real roller coaster ride,” Servideo said. “I saw him online and thought that he was going to be the one to take us to a county championship. I would have loved to see him pitch against the big boys in Bergen County.”
Soon after Colon enrolled in Lyndhurst, Servideo took Colon on a tour of the school. When they went to the football field, Colon noticed the retired jerseys of former Lyndhurst greats Teddy Shoebridge and Marcel Lajterman, both of whom were football players at Marshall and both were killed in the tragic plane crash in 1970 that inspired the recent film, “We Are Marshall.”
“They were already recruiting me,” the younger Colon said. “I needed a place to play this year for the pro scouts.”
“I told Jesus that we had someone here whose brother played football at Marshall,” Servideo said. “That was the irony of it all.”
Tom Shoebridge has kept a strong relationship with the school, even though his brother perished in that tragedy 41 years ago last week.
“When Butchie called me and told me about Jesus and Marshall, I couldn’t believe it,” Shoebridge said. “We talked about Marshall. I told him it’s a very family oriented place, even as a major university. I know he’s going to do well there, but he had been there long before he ever met us.”
“It’s so wild with Tom’s connection to Marshall,” the elder Colon said. “It worked out well. He was embraced here and welcomed here. It’s really like a family. I just wish he came here years ago.”
“It was definitely a sign for me that I was with family here in Lyndhurst,” Colon said.
So Colon signed his letter of intent to Marshall last week in Lyndhurst, but will never wear the Golden Bears’ blue and gold. He will work out with the team and help the other pitchers, but his contributions will be from the dugout, not the field.
“I just remember all the people who doubted me,” Colon said. “I remember the first school I went to and a coach telling me I would never make it. I’ve used that as a motivation.”
Colon remains a strong possibility of getting selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft next June.
For now, he will remain the greatest Lyndhurst baseball player to never have played for the Golden Bears.