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Clark's Rob Smorol to be Honored at Annual Hot Stove League Dinner

Smorol signed a contract to pitch for the Boston Red Sox’s minor league affiliate this year.

Student athletes from schools in Union County will be honored at the 78th Annual Hot Stove League Baseball Dinner on Sunday, February 9, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the L’Affaire Banquet Center, 1099 Route 22 East, in Mountainside. The dinner is sponsored by the Union County Baseball Association, in cooperation with the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation.

Among the students to be honored for their athletic achievements are:

-  ­Elena Scarano, pitcher for the Westfield Blue Devil Softball Team, who guided the team in 2013 to its first Union County Tournament trophy since 1998, will receive the Banyasz Brothers Award for most valuable scholastic softball player.

-  Rob Smorol, graduate of Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark and All-State pitcher at Rutgers University, who now pitches in the Boston Red Sox organization, will receive the Chris Zusi Award for outstanding male athlete.

-  Melissa Tobie of Elizabeth, Player of the Year at Roselle Catholic High School and again at Montclair State, who led the Red Hawks women’s basketball team in scoring, will receive the Joseph Lombardi Award for outstanding female athlete.

Ryan Williamson, a First Team, All-State pitcher for Cranford High School, who led the Cougars to a second straight state crown with an 11-0 record, will receive the Edward Cooper Award for most valuable scholastic baseball player. 

The Union County Baseball Association also will induct five new members into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame during the award ceremonies and will honor local American Legion Baseball players and athletes from youth baseball leagues for their achievements in 2013.

“We’re delighted to honor so many deserving athletes from throughout Union County at this year’s Hot Stove Awards Dinner,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak. “I hope that family members and friends of all the honorees will enjoy the Sunday afternoon ceremonies and support youth baseball in Union County.”

Jake Wood, who played for Thomas Jefferson High School in Elizabeth, will be the special guest speaker. Wood signed with the Detroit Tigers organization in 1957 when he was a 20-year-old at Delaware State University. He played four years in the minor leagues before making his debut with Detroit in 1961 – the first African American player to advance through the Tigers minor league system and play in the major leagues. Jake played second base with the Tigers and led the American League with 14 triples during his rookie year.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased online by visiting www.ucba-nj.org or by downloading and mailing the table registration form and payment to the Union County Baseball Association, Box 176, Fanwood, New Jersey 07023. Proceeds will help fund the Union County Summer Youth Baseball League for youngsters 8 to 15 years, and the Fall Teen League.

Since 1937, the Hot Stove League Dinner has been the primary fund-raising effort for the Union County Baseball Association’s summer and fall programs. Over the years, the awards dinner has honored many local and national baseball luminaries – including Phil Rizzuto of Hillside, Don Newcombe of Elizabeth, Joe Collins of Union, Jeff Torborg of Mountainside, Willie Wilson of Summit, and Elliott Maddox of Union.

For more information, please call Jim Iozzi at 908-917-2523.

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