Well, you better watch out and better not cry, you better stay still and don’t be shy, because Santa Hague is coming to town.
That boy is making a list and checking it twice to find out who’s naughty and even naughtier.
It’s Christmas time in the city, so that means it’s time for the annual Santa Hague gift bag, filled with goodies for all of the predominant sports figures in our area.
Let’s start in Harrison, the furthest point east.
The North Star isn’t shining on the Blue Tide, not even at Yule Tide.
But there are plenty of gifts, for sure.
For Harrison athletic director Kim Huaranga: A new football coach who stays around longer than the reboot of Murphy Brown.
For Harrison head soccer coach Mike Rusek: A state championship, because it’s been way too long since the last one.
For Harrison soccer star Omar Sowe: A contract with the New York Red Bulls main squad after a successful run with the Red Bulls II.
For Harrison athletic follower Mike “Moto” Dolaghan: A personal list of referees he berates hates, so they can come and shovel his front walkway when it snows.
For his brother, the retired fire mogul Tommy “Two Bits” Dolaghan: For all the people that he busted their cojones over the years to come back and bust his chops in return.
For Harrison boys’ basketball coach Jose Camano: A few athletes like Jose Camano. Those are rare and hard to find.
For Harrison baseball coach Jairo Mendez: About four or five pitchers like Jairo Mendez. Those are also extremely hard to find.
For Harrison girls’ basketball coach Erika Thompson: Nothing but health and happiness for her new baby son.
For Harrison retired athletic director/girls’ basketball coach Jack Rodgers: For someone to find that ratty blue sweater he wore all the time when he was coaching. That thing was retired when Rodg went south for the winter. Also a ton of thanks for truly being a loyal friend.
For Harrison native and TV star Ray Lucas: For the two football teams that he regularly covers, namely Rutgers and the New York Jets, to become pertinent and competitive once again, so everyone in the metropolitan area to see and hear how good of an announcer he truly is. And some new ties, because the ones he has been wearing on TV are wider than the banks of the old Raritan.
For Harrison superstar quarterback Mateo Desosa: A college scholarship at a good school, so everyone can see how truly gifted of a signal caller he truly is.
As Santa’s sleigh continues to travel west, he’s making a stop in Kearny.
For Kearny athletic director Vin Almeida: A mirror, so he can constantly look at his best friend.
For Kearny girls’ basketball coach Jody Hill: A Craftmatic bed, so she can enjoy the two hours of sleep she gets per night after coaching, teaching and raising three little kids. How Jody gets her energy is beyond Santa Hague’s comprehension.
For Kearny boys’ basketball coach Bill Mullins: A thesaurus, so he can find different ways to say “shoots the ball well.”
For Kearny baseball coach Dave Smart: A few more wins than he’s had the last few years. He deserves a few more wins.
For retired Kearny baseball coach Jim Sickinger: A spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame for Thurman Munson.
For Kearny track and field/cross country coach Al Perez: A return to health for Yoenis Cespedes and a return to the World Series for the Mets in 2020. Wait, that’s Santa Hague’s wish as well.
For Kearny football coach Stephen Andrews: A berth in the NJSIAA state playoffs, so that monkey can be removed from his back.
For Kearny assistant baseball coach Doug Gogal: For his hometown to recognize just how much of a gem he is as a coach and a person.
For Kearny resident Jacob Cardenas: An NCAA championship at Cornell to go along with his two state titles.
For Kearny talented athlete Travis Witt: A return to full health so he can live his life as an athlete once again.
For the incredible Witt family of Kearny and North Arlington: To have the new Little League field down at the Gunnell Oval to be named in honor of Tom Witt, Sr. when it is completed.
For the people who run the Kearny High School Athletic Hall of Fame: To come to their blasted senses and induct Ralph Borgess, Sr. as a member. It’s been long enough and it sucks that he’s now gone, but he deserves his place in permanent history in his hometown from his alma mater.
Now some recognition for the people of North Arlington:
For North Arlington High School athletic director Josh Aronowitz: To have some of the Vikings’ teams enjoy a little success. Being an administrator for teams that lose is not fun.
For North Arlington football coach Paul Savage: A few wins. Just a handful. No need to get greedy.
For North Arlington boys’ soccer coach Jesse Dembowski: A lifetime supply of intensified Tide, so that he can take all of that goose dung off their uniforms.
For North Arlington girls’ soccer coach Dan Farinola: Some energy pills, so he can go from coaching soccer to bowling to track as easy as possible. Farinola has the second busiest schedule in the area. The busiest is up coming.
For North Arlington baseball coach Paul Marcantuono: A battery-operated heated uniform, so he can try to stay warm in March and April.
For the powers-that-be in North Arlington: To petition Bergen County to have the baseball diamond at Riverside County Park be named in honor of the late Ed Abromaitis. No one spent more time on that field than Abro, who died this year.
Now, the people of Lyndhurst get some love.
For Lyndhurst athletic director Jeff Radigan: Some recognition for a job very well done, but please, no more letter signing events for non-Division I athletes. It diminishes the achievements of the D-I athletes. But other than that, here’s five stars out of a possible four for doing such a great job.
For Lyndhurst football coach Rich Tuero: Nothing, absolutely nothing. The man is living the dream right now. It’s all perfect. OK, a few more players like The Polish Assassin.
For Lyndhurst girls’ soccer coach Kim Hykey: Some playoff wins for the New York Yankees and some platform shoes like the ones Elton John wore as the Pinball Wizard in the movie, “Tommy.” Wait, Hykey’s not even old enough to enjoy that one.
For Lyndhurst boys’ soccer coach Denis Jelcic: A Stanley Cup championship for the New York Rangers.
For Lyndhurst superfan/former manager Campbell Donovan: Straight As on his final and the best of luck with his internship this summer with the New Jersey Jackals.
For Lyndhurst baseball coach Patrick Auteri: The same kind of success in the spring that the Golden Bears enjoyed on the gridiron in the fall.
For Lyndhurst super football star Petey Guerriero: An eventual invite to an NFL training camp, so “Petey The Jet” can show off that 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
For Lyndhurst’s other football superstar Piotr “The Polish Assassin” Partyla: A full ride to some college and not the preferred walk-on/financial aid deal he has right now from Northern Illinois. Partyla is good enough for a full scholarship.
For Lyndhurst boys’ basketball coach Tom McGuire: A new Gillette razor, because the grey in his beard makes him look 55 years old.
For my friends in Nutley:
For Nutley athletic director Joe Piro: For everyone and their mothers to just leave him alone, because only a handful of people realize just how valuable of a service he provides for the students of that school.
For Nutley baseball/basketball coach Bob Harbison: A regular pair of shoes to replace the toe-things that he has been wearing for the last three years.
For Nutley girls’ basketball coach Larry Mitschow: To keep that wickedly dry sense of humor that he already possesses. He’s like the Steven Wright of basketball coaches.
For girls’ soccer/wrestling coach/assistant softball coach Mike DiPiano: An erasable calendar so he can keep up with all of his insane schedules. No coach works more than “Little Dipper.”
Now my friends in Belleville get a visit.
For Belleville athletic director Marcellino Marra: A recipe for the sweet taste of success, which is what Marra has enjoyed recently.
For Belleville football coach Jermain Johnson: A street named after him and a copy of “The Miracle Worker,” because no one in their right mind thought that a Belleville football team could ever win seven games. Like ever.
For all of our great people at the Observer, especially people like Lisa Tortoreti Feorenzo and Bob Pezzolla and the editorial staff like Michelle Rybeck and Kevin Canessa, thanks for another great year putting my words on your pages.
And for the readers of the Observer, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and thanks for reading. We need you to keep us going, so thanks again. Santa Hague is off to spread his Christmas cheer on others. You all continue to be naughty or nice.
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.”