WEST NEW YORK – Tony Ferrainolo, the West New York native who returned to his roots only to become the all-time leader in coaching victories in New Jersey high school baseball history, died Monday morning after a nearly two-year battle with lymphoma. Ferrainolo was 65.
Ferrainolo was a great three-sport athlete, football, basketball and baseball, during his athletic days at Memorial, graduating in 1963. He earned All-County recognition in football as a wide receiver twice (1961 and 1962), then in basketball (1962) and baseball as a shortstop (1962). Ferrainolo was named the Hudson County Athlete of the Year in 1962.
He went on to play football at Villanova University, where he had a fine career, then took a job in the business world for a brief time, before being talked into becoming a teacher and assistant football coach at his alma mater in 1967.
Ferrainolo would eventually become both the head football and baseball coach at Memorial, handling both duties for 20 years. As a football coach from 1977 through 1996, Ferrainolo won two HCIAA championships and led his team to the state playoffs five times.
But it was as the school’s baseball coach that he gained his most fame and just five months ago, he earned the 753rd victory of his coaching career, surpassing the late Harry Shatel of Morristown for the state record.
Incredibly, Shatel held the record until his death May 1 at the age of 69. Ferrainolo then also held the record until his passing on Monday.
During his tenure as Memorial’s baseball coach, Ferrainolo captured a county-record 14 HCIAA championships, seven NJSIAA state sectional titles and four overall Group IV state crowns, including the 1988 title that also included the mythical national championship.
Ferrainolo was also a long-time administrator in the West New York school district and was still the principal at P.S. 2 in West New York. Ferrainolo was the first-ever principal of the district’s new middle school a few years ago.
Ferrainolo is survived by his mother, Angelina, his wife, Anne, three daughters, Kim, Michele, and Keri, and six grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at the Vainieri Funeral Home on Kennedy Blvd. in North Bergen on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. and Thursday from 2-4 and 7-9. The funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Libera in West New York Friday at 10 a.m.
For more about Tony Ferrainolo’s extraordinary life and career, read Jim Hague’s Scoreboard column in Sunday’s editions of the Hudson Reporter. – Jim Hague