Camden County College welcomes Baseball Hall of Fame

by Marc Narducci | Sep 27, 2023
Camden County College welcomes Baseball Hall of Fame
It’s been a long time coming, but the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame has found a new home. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1988 by Joe Hartmann, Bob Bobo, Charlie Schick and Chuck Roney.

There was no set home for the Hall of Fame until 2003 when it was housed at Campbell’s Field, which was the home of the Independent League Camden Riversharks. The museum was housed at Campbell’s Field from 2003-2017. 

The Riversharks folded in 2017 and the field and building that housed the HOF was demolished a year later. 

The Hall of Fame had no home and the Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey, the administrators of the HOF, put all their materials in storage. 

Now that will all change.

Beginning on Oct. 2, the Hall of Fame will find its new home at the William G. Rohrer Center of Camden County College on Route 70 and Springdale Road in Cherry Hill. 

There will be a grand opening there beginning at 6:30 p.m and those planning to attend are asked to email the Hotstovers at HSBCOSJ@gmail.com in advance. 

The Hotstovers entered into an agreement with Camden County College more than a year ago to have the new South Jersey Baseball HOF on that Cherry Hill campus. 

There are many items South Jersey baseball fans will enjoy seeing at the HOF including plaques of all 265 honorees inducted since its inception in 1988. 

There are replica items—mostly the rings of South Jersey players who have won World Series championships. That includes Haddonfield graduate Rawly Eastwick, who won consecutive World Series rings with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976. Paul VI graduate Andrew Bailey, a former pitcher at Paul VI and current pitching coach of the San Francisco Giants, won a ring with the 2013 Boston Red Sox.  

The most recent World Series winner from South Jersey is Shawnee graduate Sean Doolitte, a champion in 2019 with the Washington Nationals.

There are many others including the first champion. That came in 1887 by Hardy Richardson, who was born in Clarksboro, New Jersey. The World Series didn’t begin until 1903, but Richardson won a National League title with the Detroit Wolverines in 1887. 

In addition, there is a Mike Trout worn Los Angeles Angels uniform. Trout will one day earn entrance into the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame. He is by far the best player ever produced in South Jersey. 

And how about this?

Russell ‘Lena’ Blackburne is in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame and the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame both as a player and major league manager. He was an early 1900’s Palmyra HS graduate and in the late 1930’s discovered the special mud from a secret location along a South Jersey creek that is still used to take the sheen from new baseballs.

“The Hall of Fame is a way to preserve the history for those interested in South Jersey baseball,” said Joe Gorski, the president of the Hotstovers. “We may not have everything, but we have a good portion of it.”

He can’t say enough about the role Camden County College has played.

“The college has been very gracious,” he said. 

Admission to the HOF is free, although the Hotstovers are always looking for donations. Besides running the HOF, they also award high school players with $1,000 scholarships while also honoring the All-South Jersey teams during their annual banquet. This year’s banquet is Nov. 25 at Adelphia Restaurant in Deptford.

Anybody interested in donating to the Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey Baseball Scholarship Fund, can see the details on their website – hotstovers.com.

So many people have contributed to the museum, led by curator Dave Townsend and assistant curator Bill Wagner. 

“On the college side, Dave Bruno is the director of the center at the Rohrer campus, and he went to bat with the college administration to get this approved,” Gorski said. 

The HOF museum, located on the first and second floor of the Rohrer Center at CCC, will be open from Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

With so much history on display, South Jersey baseball fans are the big winners.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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