(Photo caption) Shown from left to right: Noah Rizio, Christian Estevez, Tyler Pavone, Luis Hidalgo, Matt Meleo, Joe Santigate, Joe Iacobellis and Jake Voss.
With the summer baseball season just around the corner, it seems fitting that we remember James in a way he’d surely appreciate and enjoy.
Pictured above are some of James’ former players who obviously agree. Before one of their games last year, eight members of the Monmouth Monarchs of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League (another great non-profit organization, by the way) assembled in front of James’ number, stenciled on the field at St. John Vianney HS where the Monarchs play many of their home games. His number 27 has also been permanently retired by the Monarchs and appears on all of the players’ uniform sleeves.
When James coached the Monarchs to their third consecutive ABCCL championship in 2015, he was incredibly happy and gratified, not only with the team’s success, but more so with the individual progress his players made both on and off the field during the course of the summer.
By all accounts, James loved seeing “his guys” apply his technical instruction and grasp the mental approach to the game that he thought was so essential. But he was especially proud of the way many of the players gained confidence, understanding, and a better sense of self based on the open, honest conversations and personal advice he was always willing to pass on.
If heaven is indeed real, we’re certain James will be watching to see that the ABCCL continues to provide that kind of on- and off-the-field support. We also know he’ll be thrilled if we’re able to use The Play for James Foundation as a platform to turn some of his broader dreams into realities while inspiring others to follow his lead when it comes to helping the needy, volunteerism and giving back in meaningful ways.
If you’re able, please consider sending a donation to the Foundation. It’s a great way to celebrate the start of another exciting baseball season and help a bunch of deserving kids in the bargain.