As the summer months began, there was the Garden State Underclassman Games, the get together for the top baseball players in the state that will return for the 2022 season.
It meant that Nutley’s Joe Delanzo would get one final shot at playing high school baseball for the summer.
“I was just happy to be out there,” Delanzo said. “It didn’t matter what position I was going to play.”
Last spring, Delanzo was a standout pitcher and shortstop for the Maroon Raiders. He made enough of an impression that Stony Brook University offered him a scholarship, even before he played an inning of his senior year.
Former Nutley standout Josh O’Neill is currently at Stony Brook.
In college, Delanzo will be strictly an infielder, but he could very well pitch again for Nutley in the 2022 season.
“I’ve committed to be a middle infielder at Stony Brook,” Delanzo said. “It’s the best feeling in the world. I know I’m going to have to step up my game a little bit to reach the next level.”
But Delanzo gladly accepted the invitation to play in the Underclassman Games with the top 50 underclassmen in the state.
“It meant the world to me,” Delanzo said. “It was such a great honor to play with the other top players. We got the chance to talk baseball.”
Delanzo was also selected to participate in the Home Run Derby before the Underclassman Games.
“I was fortunate to be picked for the Home Run Derby,” said Delanzo, who was the only player from Essex County to participate in the pre-game festivities. “It was a lot of fun.”
As for the game itself, Delanzo had two hits in three at-bats, including a double.
One of the other participants in the game was Nico Ong of Bloomfield.
“I played on the same club team with Nico,” Delanzo said. “That made me feel more comfortable. I had someone to talk to.”
By the end of the week, Delanzo was talking to practically everyone who was willing to listen to him.
“I definitely became more outgoing,” Delanzo said. “I respected everyone there. There were a lot of good guys. It was very cool to be part of it. I think we all had the utmost respect for each other.”
After the game, Delanzo played for his club team, Complete Performance Academy of Oakland, headed by former Westwood head coach Joe Gambardella and respected coach Charlie Giachetti.
“I feel blessed to be able to play for them,” Delanzo said. “I wouldn’t be the player I am today without them.”
Delanzo also works regularly with a strength and conditioning program at Fast Twitch in Saddle Brook. Delanzo attends those sessions three days a week.
“I just have to get faster and stronger,” Delanzo said. “That’s my job. I’m getting the chance to go to the next level.”
Delanzo said that he constantly talks with former teammates Trevor Santos (Manhattan College) and Kevin Hogan (Montclair State), who still play college baseball.
But Delanzo, who wants to major in sports medicine and physical therapy at Stony Brook, is trying to insure that his final season with the Maroon Raiders will be a memorable one.
“It was a good thing to be able to play in these games,” Delanzo said.
Nutley head coach Bob Harbison was pleased that Delanzo got the chance to play at such a high level.
“Joe’s willingness to let himself be coached, along with a tireless work ethic and respect for the game, is the perfect example of what a high school athlete should be,” Harbison said. “Stony Brook is getting a very good one.”
Delanzo knows that this summer was just the start.
“Hopefully, we’re on to bigger and better things,” Delanzo said.
It’s definitely a case of a star on the rise.
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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.”