Former Seton Hall baseball star Rick Cerone inducted into College Baseball Hall of Fame
At age 66, Rick Cerone has had quite a run. He was a college baseball star, had a nearly 20-year career in the big leagues and even became the owner of his own minor league club.
Now Cerone will be known as one of the best baseball players to ever wear the Seton Hall uniform by becoming the first Pirate to be inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Paul Molitor, who was my teammate in Milwaukee, he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame and he says, ‘You know, it’s really hard to get into this College Baseball Hall of Fame.’ He said, ‘It took me longer to get into that one than it did the pro baseball [hall of fame]. So, it’s a really big honor,’” Cerone says.
The Newark native says that he almost didn’t play baseball. While attending Essex County High School, Cerone had scholarship offers to play football.
“So, the last minute, Mike Shepard said, ‘Listen, I don’t have a scholarship, but we’ll find one if you want to stay home and just play baseball.’ And when you think about it, you have to make a decision that really affects the rest of your life,” Cerone says.
That decision proved to be a good one. Cerone led Seton Hall to back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1974 and 1975. He still ranks in the top 10 Pirates history in career batting average and home runs. Cerone, who was a catcher, was a two-time academic all-American.
“I was actually in the big leagues in ’75, my junior year. But I did go back and graduate on time with my class of ’76,” says Cerone.
Cerone’s career at Seton Hall catapulted him to Major League Baseball. He was drafted in the first found and spent parts of 18 years with eight major league teams – including the New York Yankees. But Cerone says that he loved playing college baseball more than he did playing professional baseball.
“I liked the camaraderie we had at Seton Hall. I mean, we did some crazy things we got away with. I mean, I remember us stealing the team bus in Omaha and going over to Iowa because the bars stayed open later,” he says.
Along with owning the Newark Bears for a time, Cerone says that the College Baseball Hall of Fame is his greatest accomplishment. He credits his Jersey roots for his success.
“You have to have a toughness that I think helps you the rest of your life. It’s a determination, a survival of the fittest, but you have to have that little edge and I think Northeast players have that,” Cerone says.
Cerone was part of a 12-member class that was officially inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame last month.