Rick Cerone, former Seton Hall catcher and the 1975 seventh overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft, was virtually inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame Thursday night.
The former two-time All-American is the first Seton Hall player to ever be inducted in the Hall of Fame after being the first Pirate to have his number retired by the University’s baseball program.
When Cerone graduated from Seton Hall, he owned program records for most career doubles, most home runs in a season and career, all-time slugging percentage and RBIs in a season. He also led the program to two straight appearances in the College World Series in 1974 and 1975.
Despite the accolades, Cerone was still a freshman at one point, one who was pulled from his first game and had to run foul pole to foul pole until the end of the game. His coach, Mike Sheppard, forgot to bring him on the bus after the contest.
Although this moment is forever etched in Cerone’s mind, it almost never occurred. As a high school senior, Cerone received several college football offers and signed a letter of intent to play quarterback at the University of Rhode Island. Yet, even though he did not have a baseball scholarship, Cerone wanted to be a Pirate.
“You have to remember you are a 17-year-old kid,” Cerone said. “It is a tough decision to make, going away from home. I got an opportunity and Seton Hall was tremendous, and I would never change anything because it was the perfect decision to make. And look how it changed my life, I played almost 18 years in big leagues, career that I did and went to broadcasting. It was very rewarding.”
At 21, Cerone was selected by the Cleveland Indians in 1975 and was called up to the big leagues later that year, playing 17 seasons in his career with stints including the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets.
Even after playing at the highest level of baseball for almost two decades, Cerone’s college career will always outweigh his time at the Major League level.
“My legacy at Seton Hall is that we played hard, we competed against the best, we beat the number one team in country 11-0, Florida State,” Cerone said. “Great memories with great teammates that carry on. It’s more so the college memories than the professional memories that I have that I live on, and I still get together with the guys and have fun.”
Robert Fallo can be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @Robert_Fallo.