Softball complex renamed after long-time coach

Carl Corino remembers growing up in Belleville and playing sports on local fields.

“As a kid growing up, I was always a sports fan,” Corino said. “I would go watch Belleville play all the time. Belleville is all I know.”

Corino played baseball and football at Belleville High School, graduating in 1969. He went to Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) and came right back home to Belleville.

“I was fortunate to get a job right away out of school,” Corino said. “I stepped right in. I was the shop teacher at the middle school. I was lucky to have a good family and lucky to play in Belleville.”

As it turned out, Corino was lucky to get a coaching job in Belleville _ and eventually find the love of his life as well.

“I coached freshman football and baseball for about six years,” Corino said. “In 1980, the softball team needed a coach. I always thought that maybe I had a chance to be the baseball coach someday, but I went to coach softball.”

That’s because Corino’s future wife Eve was the softball coach.

“She was coaching when we first started dating,” Corino said. “She taught physical education at the junior high. I thought I would go help her out.”

Corino served as his wife’s assistant coach in 1979. In 1980, Eve Corino became pregnant, which opened up the door for Carl to step in and become the head coach.

“I loved it,” Corino said. “I jumped right in.”

In 1980, Corino’s first year, the Buccaneers won 20 games and reached the Essex County Tournament finals.

“I think that got everyone excited about softball in Belleville,” Corino said.

Corino went on to have a sensational career as the Belleville softball coach, winning three county championships (1982, 1983 and 1989) and more than 500 games. When he retired in 2005, Corino was the all-time leader in softball coaching victories in the state.

Belleville’s current head coach Chris Cantarella served as an assistant coach with Corino for four years before being promoted to head coach upon Corino’s retirement.

“He treated everyone like they were members of his family,” Cantarella said. “It was like they were his own daughters. I wanted to try to build relationships like Carl did. I wanted to treat people the same way that Carl did. He taught me that. He taught me to treat the game and the people of the game with respect. He taught me how the game should be played. If you do things the right way, you’ll be rewarded. That’s definitely a Carl trait.”

Cantarella wondered if the town would ever live up to a promise made to Corino ages ago.

“When Carl retired, they said something like they should name the field after Carl,” Cantrella said. “But for some reason, it never happened.”
Earlier this year, Cantrella pushed the buttons with the Belleville Board of Education.

“I knew something had to happen and we had to do something for Carl. I went to the Superintendent of Schools last November and told him that this was what we were going to do.”

In honor of 42 years of softball as a varsity sport in Belleville, the high school held an alumni softball game. More importantly, they held a special dedication Saturday to rename the field where the Buccaneers play as the Corino Softball Complex.

“I didn’t realize this was possible,” Corino said. “It really came as a surprise.”

Belleville Times sports columnist Mike Lamberti floated the idea in a column a few months ago. Cantarella went to the powers-that-be for approval. Whosever idea it was to do such a thing was brilliant, especially while Corino is still here and healthy enough to enjoy the unveiling.

“It was out there for a while,” Corino said. “But after some time went by, I thought it was over. I never thought it would happen.”

Corino says that he tries to go to as many games as possible.

“I try to get to as many games as I can,” Corino said. “I’m sure it will hit me that the field was named after me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m a Belleville guy. I played ball on that field when I was a kid. This is an emotional thing for me. I’m very honored that they decided to name it after me.”

It’s just a fitting gesture for a man who helped to put Belleville softball on the map. See, it paid to be very friendly with the former head coach years ago. It led to a field being named after him.

All kidding aside, Carl Corino is a legend in Belleville and the people who made this possible did the right thing, especially while he’s still around and could enjoy the day, especially with so many of his former players coming back for the ceremonies.

“It was a fun day,” Cantarella said. “We had 26 play in the alumni game after the festivities. The stands were about three-quarters full. It was a great day and probably long overdue.”

The only bad thing to the day? The Buccaneers lost to New Providence in extra innings. But everything else about the day was perfect, especially for a great man like Carl Corino.



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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.”