By Alyssa Riccardi and Chris Lundy
BERKELEY – Central Regional School District’s Al Leiter Field at Al Kunzman Park has been named 2022 Field of the Year in the school category by Sports Field Management Association (SFMA).
This highly-regarded honor is the top award in the industry. SFMA is a non-profit, professional association for the 2,700 men and women who manage sports fields worldwide. Every year, they shine the spotlight on members who managed and provided quality, safe playing surfaces.
“We are thrilled to recognize the men and women who maintain our sports fields nationwide and display excellence across the board, especially when it comes to safety and playability,” SFMA President James Bergdoll said. “The 2022 winners each played a major role in enhancing their communities, displaying their talents with college and professional teams, as well as local parks and recreation departments.”
The field was named “Leiter Baseball Park” after Al Leiter, the major league pitcher who has roots in Berkeley Township. At the time, the governing body wanted to honor his family for the dedication they have for the youth in town.
A generous donation transformed the facility, building new dugouts, walkways, a two-story booth with equipment room, bleachers, benches and fences.
Grounds Supervisor Keith Fisher thanked the support of Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides, the administration, the Board of Education and Al Leiter himself.
“The administration and the board should be commended in the leadership role they have taken in New Jersey as well as the nation to provide quality and safe sports fields for the student athletes of Central Regional and the student athletes from visiting schools,” he said.
Leiter graduated Central in 1984 and went on to pitch for the Yankees and Mets. He was on the teams that won the World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays (1993) and the Florida Marlins (1997).
Inducted into the Central Regional Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, the late Al Kunzman had a prolific baseball coaching career. The fact that he was the coach of many other Hall of Famers shows how skilled he was. He was also credited as one of the coaches who started the Ocean County and Shore Conference Tournaments.