Whereas I made my strategy to St. Paul’s The Apostle Church in Jersey Metropolis Thursday for his final sendoff I wasn’t precisely certain what to anticipate.
The highschool coaches and former athletes and buddies stuffed the church as anticipated, however then, from the pulpit, got here what was a fantastic “Hague Second” few if any had anticipated. Father Joseph Furnaguera, St. Paul’s pastor, warned these listening that this Homily was not going to be the traditional one. Why?
Sure he may cowl so many tales of Jim’s life and the folks he impacted, however when if ever, may a priest stand on an altar to talk about a man who coated HIM…in faculty…as a baseball player at Rutgers-Newark just 11 years ago. Father Furnaguera advised the story of how final yr at a funeral, he crossed paths with Jim and advised him how he remembered him throughout his senior yr (the place apparently he was a heck of an infielder) and Jim IMMEDIATELY remembered his quantity and ran off all of his stats from his time enjoying at Newark’s Golden Dome.
That was quintessential Jim Hague…storyteller, joyful reporter, chronicler of the lives of 1000’s, and infrequently forgetting many and if he did he may fill within the blanks from related escapades or occasions he had seen.
Whereas everybody had a Jimmy story…sadly he’s the second Jimmy I’ve been near that we’ve misplaced previously month; my good pal, and an equally fanatical sports activities follower, Jimmy Dempsey (he was Packers and Yankees loyal, Hague was Mets and Rams) handed away in early Could…I wished to rattle off a couple of that at all times made my pal Hague so particular to me, a lot of which haven’t come up within the tales of his devoted service in and round all sports activities in New York, New Jersey, Jersey Metropolis and particularly Hudson County.
So listed below are a couple of did you is aware of…
–Jim liked the Odd Couple. He was one of many few buddies I may feed traces to endlessly, with out ever lacking a beat.
-After we had our home in Bradley Seaside a couple of summers, Jim was at all times a welcome visitor. Whereas sitting on the shore wasn’t his factor, we have been fortunate sufficient to be not removed from Kelly’s Bar, the place we ended up on a couple of Saturday’s watching the Mets of the ‘90’s and having Turkey Sligo sandwiches with a couple of drinks.
–He liked Elton John. We noticed EJ not less than thrice collectively, and I keep in mind him dancing on the concourse of Madison Sq. Backyard ones evening to Crocodile Rock, whereas the ushers bopped with him. It was greater than becoming that his wonderful spouse Mary had EJ’s “Skyline Pidgeon,” Jim’s favourite music, on the funeral in the present day to get issues going.
–We tried and tried to see the Mets in particular person the previous couple of years. Twice we received inside hours solely due to automobile points, or well being points that had began to mount, he couldn’t make it. What I do keep in mind so nicely is that of the numerous video games we noticed collectively at Shea and Citi Discipline, we at all times sat someplace upstairs, out of the way in which, with loads of room. It was at all times one of the simplest ways to look at a recreation. Probably the greatest ones? August 6, 1989. Mets 2 Expos 1 in 14 innings. Why I keep in mind that one I’m unsure aside from it was sweltering sizzling and after the Mets scored to win Jim sang Tom Petty’s “Received’t Again Down” over and over as we exited Shea.
–Individuals questioned what his e-mail meant. OGSMAR. It’s GoRams (backwards).
–If we ever had a Hudson County athlete concerned in any occasion…a wrestler, and MMA fighter, a school observe star, Jim was your man. Jersey Journal. AP, Hudson Reporter, The Observer, he was there. Once I was requested to assist Hudson catholic Excessive College with a press convention once they named Leonard Marshall their head soccer coach, the primary particular person within the door? Jim Hague.
-When he was 16…an at all times huge 16…he satisfied Oakland A’s proprietor Charles Finley he was 18 and have become the PR director of the Minor League Jersey Metropolis Indians. Important much more so as a result of, he grew to become the babysitter for a younger Ricky Henderson as the long run star made his method via the rubble of Roosevelt Stadium for a storied summer season (as was documented so well in Howard Bryant’s recent biography of Henderson…a lot in order that when advised of Jim’s passing by textual content on Sunday, Bryant despatched quite a few messages to clarify how JIM was the very best interview of anybody within the e-book).
-And let’s additionally keep in mind when Henderson, on the finish of his profession returned to New Jersey to play Unbiased League ball for the Newark Bears, who was the PA announcer? Jim Hague.
–There have been additionally a number of the wonderful brushes with greatness and infamy Jim had. A well-known story about wrestling Darryl Dawkins. He additionally liked going to the Broadway and Off-Broadway reveals I set to work on. He would ship me texts and footage from once we received him backstage to satisfy one other of his appearing favorites, Dan Lauria, not one (once we did “Lombardi”) however twice (when Dan did an Off Broadway present known as “Dinner With The Boys”). And as at all times, he discovered a spot for a Jersey overview of the reveals, to provide a bit again for the prospect to satisfy the forged. Jim was at all times in regards to the payback.
-Another to spherical out a prime ten that might go on for some time. One of many first locations I met Jim was once I was the Sports activities Data Director at Monmouth Faculty and Jim was working at St. Peter’s beneath their legendary SID Invoice Waldy. The Hawks took on the Peacocks in Jersey Metropolis, and their star level guard, Kevin Boyle, wanted 8 assists to interrupt the St. Peter’s profession help report. It wasn’t going to be that arduous, Monmouth was nonetheless attempting to determine Division I hoops on the time, and the stat crew had him attain the milestone simply earlier than halftime. There was one drawback. He wanted eight assists and the Peacocks solely had seven discipline objectives. Jim, who I had simply met, laughed, and altered the 8 to six, so the report stood a bit longer. It made for a fantastic Hague second although.
Type to a fault, at all times keen to do the proper factor to the purpose the place someday he felt taken benefit of by folks, at all times enthusiastic and able to pitch in, Jim was at all times there for thus many. I used to be glad to listen to that Hudson County is naming a youth sports activities award after him, it’s disappointing nobody did it whereas he was right here to nonetheless get pleasure from it although.
Nonetheless one line Father Furnaguera used in the present day actually summed up Jim’s life nicely lived.
“He used his presents for the sake of others.”
In a egocentric, self centered world, everybody can take that message to coronary heart. We’d like extra of Jim’s presents….laughter, a bit bluster, loyalty, pleasure…tons and plenty of pleasure.
One very last thing. I can’t ever keep in mind, even once we spoke for the final time in March, did Jim ever not finish a dialog with me with out saying “I really like you brother.” And he meant it.
Jim Hague lived and liked everybody, and the hope is that his infectious enthusiasm, particularly for younger folks, doesn’t get swept away.
Dropping him this week at age 62 was a tragedy, the true tragedy could be if all these folks he touched and helped don’t choose up the ball and perform a little one thing for another person within the coming months and years.
The large man did little issues that mattered. Identical to all of us ought to.
Love you Jim. Miss you at all times. Let’s Go Mets.