Chris Camilo didn’t exactly want to leave Paramus Catholic High School.
After all, Camilo, a highly regarded baseball player, especially as a pitcher, was set to enter his senior year at the school. No one ever wants change when you’re about to begin the final year of high school. But finances prevented Camilo from remaining at the private Catholic institution. Tuition was just a tad too expensive for the family to handle.
So Camilo transferred back to his home district school, namely Lyndhurst High School.
There was only one obstacle. For some reason, Paramus Catholic officials would not sign the transfer waiver form that would permit Camilo to play from the start of the season.
“We tried several times to get the waiver,” Camilo said.
It’s almost hypocritical that the school will welcome standout athletic transfers like football stars Willy Hanson, Julius Peppers and Rashan Gary, yet will not sign the necessary paperwork that will permit a student/athlete to leave the school and return to their home district. Frankly, it makes no sense.
In any case, Camilo had to sit out for the first 12 games of the current baseball season.
“It was pretty frustrating at first, because I wanted to play so badly,” Camilo said. “But then I realized that everything happens for a reason. It was difficult to sit out, but I handled it.”
‘It’s almost hypocritical that the school will welcome standout athletic transfers like football stars Willy Hanson, Julius Peppers and Rashan Gary, yet will not sign the necessary paperwork that will permit a student/athlete to leave the school and return to their home district. Frankly, it makes no sense.’ — Hague
First-year Lyndhurst head coach Patrick Auteri was happy to have Camilo to anchor his pitching staff, but then was disappointed that Camilo had to sit out the NJSIAA mandatory 30 days after transferring schools without an address change.
“I was really excited,” Auteri said. “I knew he was the kind of kid who could put us over the top.”
Auteri likened the situation to a Major League Baseball team making a deal at the trading deadline to improve the squad.
“It’s like we got the hired gun to help us down the stretch,” Auteri said. “We knew we had the makings of a good team, but someone like Chris could really put us over the top.”
Auteri had a plan to get Camilo ready for the season when he became eligible to play.
“From Day One, we had him throwing simulated games on the side to get his arm in shape,” Auteri said. “We knew that he worked out all winter to get in shape, but the throwing sessions really helped. He was pitching on the side every fourth day. And his attitude was great. He was really patient through it all.”
“As I was sitting out, I worked hard to get myself ready,” Camilo said. “I was running a lot, doing a lot of exercises. I practiced very hard. I felt like my arm was strong. I just kept getting better and better.”
Last Monday, Camilo was ready for his grand debut. He took the mound against Garfield.
“I was waiting for that moment for the whole offseason,” Camilo said. “I was very pumped up and excited. Once I got the chance, I was confident in my stuff and confident in my teammates.”
“You could tell that he was chomping at the bit a little,” Auteri said.
In his very first start for the Golden Bears, Camilo went out and threw a no-hitter, striking out 12 in the process.
Just to insure that the first game was no fluke, Camilo went to work in his second start Saturday night against neighboring rival Rutherford. In that 13-1 Lyndhurst victory, Camilo pitched a onehitter, striking out six.
Two starts, 14 innings pitched, one hit. Not a bad debut at all.
To add to the impressive beginning, Camilo delivered five hits, including a homer, a double and seven RBI. He certainly was worth waiting for.
For his efforts, Camilo has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
A deeply religious practicing Catholic, Camilo was thankful to a higher power for his week to remember.
“I have to thank God, because He blessed me with this,” Camilo said. “I’m definitely staying humble. My faith means everything to me. Everything I do is in God’s name. God blessed me in every way. I’m blessed to have great family, great friends, great parents, great teammates and great coaches. I have to thank God for all that.”
But there’s no way that Camilo could have anticipated the early success.
“I never thought I could go out and throw a no-hitter right away,” Camilo said. “I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes. God blessed me by letting me throw a no-hitter.”
Incredibly, it wasn’t the first no-hitter Camilo had thrown this year.
“In January, I went to Kissimmee, Florida, with the Paterson Red Sox and I threw a no-hitter against the Jackie Robinson All-Stars from Chicago,” Camilo said.
It was in an 18-andunder AAU tournament at the winter home of the Houston Astros.
But this no-hitter was a little more noteworthy and memorable.
“It’s very special to me,” Camilo said. “I never thought I would throw another no-hitter. I just wanted to help the team anyway I could.”
The Golden Bears are now on a tear. They’ve won seven straight games to improve to 10-6 on the season. Incredibly, through all the nasty and wicked weather everyone had to endure in early April, the Bears have still managed to play 16 games, which is the highest total in northern New Jersey.
“We definitely wanted to play a lot of games early, so we could be ready when Chris became eligible,” Auteri said. “You can see how the whole team picks up with him around. The team plays better defensively when he’s pitching. They know he’s going to strike out a lot of guys, so it takes the pressure off them. The kids all know how good he is. His stuff is electric.”
Now with Camilo and fellow senior Nolan Kelly, the Golden Bears have a solid 1-2 pitching punch.
“With Chris and Nolan, we line up pretty good,” Auteri said. “It’s worked out pretty well. Hopefully, we’ll get into the county tournament and I think we’ll be fine for the state tournament. We had a sense that once we got Chris back, we could be awesome.”
Camilo already has his future mapped out. He’s headed to Bloomfield College in the fall on a baseball scholarship.
For now, Camilo is just pleased to be back playing and contributing.
“This really boosts my confidence up, but not just me, the entire team,” Camilo said. “We’re on a seven-game win streak right now. The other teams better watch out, because Lyndhurst is on the rise. I’m playing now and I’m enjoying it. It’s been a lot of fun.”
It’s safe to say that the rest of Camilo’s teammates and coaches feel the same exact way.
Learn more about the writer ...
Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”