The phone conversation Patrick Quinn had with Jack DiSalvo on Dec. 16 is one Quinn won’t ever forget.
DiSalvo’s cancer had spread from his throat to his spine, an unfortunate development that left the longtime Hawthorne High School baseball coach with little time to live. A call from Quinn, a standout catcher for DiSalvo’s 24-3 team in 1992, was a welcomed diversion from that devastating diagnosis.
“I got on the phone with him, told him I loved him and he said the same thing to me,” Quinn recalled. “We were both kind of choked up. And I said, ‘Listen, we’re having an alumni game and I’m going to tell you this now because we know you don’t have a lot of time left. We’re going to name it after you and the purpose is to have a scholarship at the school and it’s going to be for a kid that’s about what you taught us – leadership, athletics, academics. At the end of the day, I don’t want anybody to forget you. That’s my selfish purpose for doing this.’ He was really choked up, loved the idea and really appreciated it.”
DiSalvo died five days later in Jupiter, Fla., where the Hackensack native moved after retiring from his position as Hawthorne’s vice principal in 2004.
Four months after Quinn and DiSalvo discussed it, the inaugural Jack DiSalvo Charity Baseball Game will take place Saturday at Hawthorne’s home field.
First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m., following Hawthorne’s 11 a.m. varsity game against Cresskill. The alumni game will help raise money for the Jack DiSalvo Leadership Scholarship, which will be awarded next month to a Hawthorne male or female student-athlete who has shown strong academic and leadership skills.
Admission to the event is free. A suggested donation of $25 will help fund the scholarship, a $2,500 donation to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson and additional projects planned by the Jack DiSalvo Foundation.
Donations also can be made by visiting jackdisalvofoundation.org.
Two of DiSalvo’s sons, Brian and Chris, will throw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to the alumni game. The alumni game will include 35 former Hawthorne players who were Bears from 1982-2013, many of whom helped DiSalvo eclipse 300 career wins and earn the Passaic County Coaches Association’s baseball Coach of the Year award five times.
John Passero, Hawthorne’s current baseball and football coach, is among those excited about honoring DiSalvo’s legacy. Passero, a senior first baseman on the ’92 team that reached Passaic County and North 1, Group 1 finals, also served as DiSalvo’s assistant from 1997-2000, before DiSalvo, who previously coached baseball and football at Paterson Catholic, retired from coaching to become vice principal.
“I just feel lucky that I got to coach with him and play for him,” Passero said. “From a player’s perspective, he didn’t beat around the bush. He told you like it was. Sometimes it was good news and sometimes it was bad news, but he gave it to you straight. I like to think I took some things from him that have helped make me the coach I am today. He loved us and we loved him right back. I think [Saturday is] going to be a special day and it’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people.”