By Rich Chrampanis |
BAYVILLE – To Marty Kenney, Saturday’s game against the Wall Crimson Knights at Central Regional’s home field as part of the Strike Out Autism Challenge was a big game. The fact that he was sitting at 799 career wins had nothing to do with that notion. For Kenney, facing an undefeated team that will no doubt challenge the Colts and the other top contenders in the Shore Conference in 2018 was the only thing that had his attention. It wasn’t until the celebration died down following Tom Rodgers’ walk-off RBI single with the bases loaded to give the Colts a 6-5 win over the Crimson Knights that the legendary Colts coach got the news from his son that he achieved a truly remarkable milestone – 800 wins.
“It’s something that I think I’m more proud of than my father is. My father’s a very reserved guy,” assistant coach Marty Kenney, Jr. said talking about his Dad’s accomplishment. “We haven’t talked about it at all coming into the season. We didn’t put any added pressure on the kids. We knew that it would come someday. He needed five, so we knew it would eventually come.”
With 800 wins comes a remarkable longevity. Kenney has been leading the Colts on the diamond since 1974 and in his 45th season, he brings the same passion and energy from the beginning of this journey.
“It’s something I never dreamed of,” Kenney said when reflecting on his career in Lincroft. “I’ve always had a passion for the game and I’ve always had a passion for coaching. I even coached basketball for 20 years at CBA. I enjoyed both sports. I always said to myself, once that passion leaves – the day I get up and don’t want to practice – then I know it’s time to move on.”
It won’t be long before the Kenney family can celebrate 1,000 career wins. Chris Kenney recently celebrated his 100th career win leading East Brunswick High. And it’s fitting that Marty Jr. and Chris have taken turns being by their father’s side during nearly every one of his milestone wins, first as players and then assistant coaches. With an 800-338 record, Kenney has seen his Colts win three state championships, seven Shore Conference titles and eight Monmouth County titles. But for all the big games, Kenney gets even more satisfaction on the practice field.
“I probably find more enjoyment in practice than I do in the game,” Kenney said. “Because it gives me an opportunity to work with the kids, it gives me an opportunity to teach and that’s what it’s all about.”
It’s easy to say that Kenney has an old-school approach to the game but he’s been able to still resonate with some of the Shore’s top diamond talent in recent years. Luca Dalatri and Brandon Martorano, both key members of the North Carolina Tar Heels, were just two of the recent Colts alumni making an impact in NCAA baseball along with a long list of former players who are playing college ball. The current CBA team once again has the Kenney personality – willing to grind through every pitch and play the game with maximum effort no matter what the score and situation is.
“It feels amazing,” Rodgers said following his walk-off heroics. “Honestly, he’s been such a good coach to us. He helps us get through the good times and I’m really glad I can help get him there.”
Kenney is the second member of the 800-win club in New Jersey high school baseball, now joining Toms River South’s Ken Frank who sits at 872. As he held an autographed baseball from the 2018 Colts to commemorate the 800th win, it’s safe to say that Kenney has moved on from the well-deserved adulation by not only CBA but the entire New Jersey baseball community.
“It goes in my trophy case along with a lot of other mementos,” Kenney said. “It brings up fond memories of different games, different players.”
KENNEY BY THE NUMBERS
Overall Record (through April 15): 800-338
Total Championships: 43
State Championships: 3
Sectional Championships: 8
Shore Conference Tournament Championships: 7
Monmouth County Championships: 8
Shore Conference Divisional Championships: 17
This article was first published in the April 19-26, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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