First Pitch Thrown At Central’s New Ballpark

Central Regional Athletic Director John Scran watches as four members of the Leiter family - Al, John, Kurt and Mark – collectively throw the first pitch. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  BERKELEY – A new field at Central Regional gives honor to local legends – The Al Kunzman Memorial Field at the Al Leiter Baseball Park.

The new score board looked over the field. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  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).

  The facility was beautiful and pristine on an early April afternoon. Dozens of fans and local officials made their way from the high school down the steps in back to the new field. Bleachers anchored the corner behind home plate, a scoreboard looked over the field, and maroon and gold were in large supply.

The new baseball field was pristine before its first game. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  Kevin Williams, a sportscaster for WOBM who always cheers local athletics, opened the event talking about the legends of Central Regional baseball, and quite a few were in attendance.

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  The late Al Kunzman was there in spirit, and his family was there to celebrate his legacy. Al Leiter shared the first pitch with family members John, Kurt and Mark. Both families were gifted commemorative bases decorated in honor of the occasion. The first game to be played on the field was against Toms River South. Their coach, Ken Frank, was honored for being the winningest coach in New Jersey.

  Members of the Board of Education brought Leiter gifts and Mayor Carmen Amato proclaimed April 2 to be Al Leiter Day. “We can never say thanks enough for your commitment,” he said.

  Board President Lou Tuminaro thanked Leiter for the generous donation which would “make many of our students dream big.”

Al Leiter spoke about the people who helped him in his life. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said Leiter donated the funds for such things as the field, scoreboard, electricity, and irrigation. The Board of Education finished it off with the bleachers.

  “It’s a little awkward for me,” Leiter admitted of the praise, in giving his remarks to the crowd. “Baseball was good to me.”

  He told tales of some strange coincidences of how Kunzman, Frank, and the Leiters weaved through each others’ lives. He called his coach, Kunzman, a legend, who worked with “class, dignity, discipline, and respect.”

  He also thanked supporters of local athletics for giving him the opportunity to give back to his community.