Montclair Kimberley baseball coach Pacifico secures 500th career victory on the diamond
Montclair Kimberley baseball head coach Ralph Pacifico reached lofty company last week, as he collected his 500th career victory.
Pacifico reached that pinnacle with the Cougars' 5-4 win on April 4 over Glen Ridge, putting him in towering company as the 34th coach in New Jersey to hit that mark, according to Diamond Nation.
Pacifico entered his 32nd year as head coach at Montclair Kimberley at the start of this season, and his 500th victory came on the christening of the new baseball field at Montclair Kimberley Middle School.
He was just glad to reach the career mark in the second game of 2023 (MKA lost at Bloomfield, 16-9, on April 3) so he and the team can focus on the rest of the season.
“I’m just happy that it’s over in the second game of the season, and we can all just concentrate on this young baseball team we have, which is really good, with a solid bunch of kids who work hard,” said Pacifico, who took over the MKA program in 1991.
“And I feel blessed to enjoy everything that has happened with my family, friends and players and realize how lucky I am.”
His young squad got his 500th victory in exciting fashion. Sophomore Alessandro Rizio smacked the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division contest.
Under Pacifico’s leadership, Montclair Kimberley reached three Non-Public B state finals, in 1997, 2002 and 2009, while getting to the Greater Newark Tournament semifinals in 2002. The Cougars won the Prep B Tournament last season.
"Coach Pacifico has been a teacher, coach, mentor and friend to thousands of Brookside students and players during his 32 years at MKA, and today’s milestone win was an incredible moment for the entire MKA baseball family past and present, but most importantly for coach Pacifico and his wonderful family, who have been with him every step of the way," said Athletics Director Todd Smith. Pacifico has been a physical education teacher at Brookside Academy, MKA’s primary school.
Another Montclair Kimberley coach also recently reached a milestone for career victories. In the winter head boys basketball coach Tony Jones collected his 300th win, which came when MKA won the Prep B Tournament title game in February.
In addition, Bill Wing just finished his 26th year at Montclair Kimberley as the head girls tennis coach and has 394 career victories.
All three are rare today in high school sports, where coaches come and go.
"Having coach Pacifico entering his 32nd year and coach Jones just finishing his 23rd year at MKA is certainly an anomaly this day and age in high school sports," Smith said.
"They both have been true to who they are and the vision and philosophy they have for their respective programs and have been able to ride the ebbs and flows of what can be a very turbulent ride at times.
“They also are very clear with parents and athletes about the expectations that they have for their programs and student-athletes from the start of the season, including playing time.
"They have also been open to change and suggestions and have been able to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Most importantly, they are both in it for the love of the game and our student-athletes and not for their personal agenda and legacy."