TASTY TIDBITS Horrific loss of great coach and mentor Bello

Hoboken/Demarest Hall of Fame welcomes nine new members; performances and top fives

  1 / 2 
TRAGIC LOSS – Tony Bello (inset) was tragically murdered in the park he called home, Pershing Field in Jersey City, last Sunday.
  2 / 2 
TRAGIC LOSS – Tony Bello was tragically murdered in the park he called home, Pershing Field in Jersey City, last Sunday. Tony is also shown at Christmas time with his son Vinnie (back left), two grandsons and Santa Claus from a few years ago. Vinnie Bello said the picture was one of his father’s favorites.
  1 / 2 
TRAGIC LOSS – Tony Bello (inset) was tragically murdered in the park he called home, Pershing Field in Jersey City, last Sunday.
  2 / 2 
TRAGIC LOSS – Tony Bello was tragically murdered in the park he called home, Pershing Field in Jersey City, last Sunday. Tony is also shown at Christmas time with his son Vinnie (back left), two grandsons and Santa Claus from a few years ago. Vinnie Bello said the picture was one of his father’s favorites.

The news Sunday morning was more than shocking and downright disturbing.
Tony Bello, who spent more than 50 years of his life coaching and teaching kids in Jersey City, was murdered in the place that he called home forever, a place he thought to be a safe haven called Pershing Field — stabbed to death after attending Mass at St. Nicholas R.C. Church.
Details of the incident remained sketchy at press time, but an arrest was made Wednesday afternoon by Jersey City police.
Apparently, the 76-year-old Bello, who spent countless hours in his life at Pershing Field, got into some sort of a heated altercation around 8 a.m. Sunday. Bello was stabbed in the torso and died soon after.
Bello’s death sent shockwaves throughout the Jersey City Heights and beyond, because anyone and everyone who knew Tony Bello knew him to be a kind, considerate, gentle soul.
He was an assistant football coach at places like Dickinson and Marist for several years. He was the head baseball coach for the Jersey City Giants in the now-defunct Build Better Boys Baseball League in the early 1990s. Bello also served as the president of the Pershing Field Little League and coached several different teams in that league over the last 25 years.
A retired teacher, Bello was always spotted at Pershing Field, where he took walks twice a day, once in the morning with a cup of coffee in hand and another in the afternoon. He would also stop to watch practically every baseball game played at the facility, no matter the age level.
There were thousands of youngsters who were graced to have the guidance of Tony Bello, who never received anything in return.
One prominent high school baseball coach said that, “Tony Bello spent more time in Pershing Field than any Jersey City worker assigned to work there.”
As someone who knew Tony well over the last 35 years, the news of his tragic demise hit hard and hurt, because Tony would never hurt anyone and he just cared so much about kids and their well being.
I honestly can’t remember a time over the last 35 years when I went to Pershing Field for some game and didn’t run into Tony. He was always there, a permanent fixture. He was the King of Pershing Field. Someone said that he was the Mayor of Manhattan Avenue, where the Bello family resided. But I think of him more as the King of Pershing Field. No one was there more.
Bello guided his son, Vinnie, to become a teacher and coach on his own. Vinnie Bello started his career as the head baseball coach and athletic director at Marist High School, but 20 years ago, moved to Sparta where he took on the job as the head coach at Pope John, where he gained a reputation as being one of the best high school coaches in New Jersey. Tony’s daughter Lisa is married to Hoboken High School head baseball coach Jack Baker.
So coaching is a major part of the Bello family lineage, all thanks to the incredible dedication of the patriarch Tony.
There are other countless current and former coaches who received invaluable guidance from Tony over the years, people like Union City head baseball coach Chipper Benway, former Dickinson head coach Danny Suarez, current Dickinson head coach Mario Santana and current Hudson Catholic head coach Alberto Vasquez.
Tony had such an impact on everyone he came in contact with, including sportswriters who loved to hear Tony speak about sports, especially baseball, his true love.
Vinnie Bello was asked how he would best remember his father.
“I’ll remember him every time I put on the uniform,” Bello said. “Every time I watch my son play football, I’ll think of him. He’s the one who pushed me into coaching. He took me over to Pershing Field the first time when I was little to play ball. I remember when I was a little kid and he was coaching football at Dickinson, he brought me to practice with him. I can’t even begin to count how many people he touched. He always wanted to go across the street and help the kids. That was my Dad.”
And the irony of it all that Tony Bello’s life came to a tragic and horrific end in the park he loved so well.
“It was his park,” Vinnie Bello said. “He was Pershing Field. That’s why this all hasn’t truly sunk in. It happened in Pershing Field. For him to lose his life in Pershing Field? It’s surreal. I can’t even put it into words. He was taken away from my Mom [Catherine]. He was taken away from my sister. He was taken away from my kids [Nick, Mike and Dominick].”
Nick Bello is a football player who will play football at Assumption College next year. Mike is an aspiring baseball standout at Pope John, playing for his father, who has already given a verbal commitment to attend Auburn University – and he’s only a freshman. Dominick is 12 years old with a bright future.
“He won’t get a chance to see his grandsons play in college,” Vinnie Bello said. “But we’re going to go on. That’s the way he’d want us to keep going, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
It’s a tragedy that we may never really know what transpired. One thing is for sure. Tony Bello is gone and it’s a loss for thousands who knew him…
The 27th edition of the Hoboken/Demarest Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner is set for Saturday night at the Hoboken Elks, with cocktails at 5 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m. and the ceremony to begin at 7 p.m.
Once again, there is a fine group of worthy inductees, like Jason Blanks (Class of 2003), the football/basketball/baseball standout who was the Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year t his senior year; Jennifer Albuja (Hoboken Class of 2004), the soccer/basketball/softball standout who still remains the school’s all-time leading scorer in soccer; Baron Ballester (Class of 1990) for soccer; Raquel Roder (Class of 2007), for softball/volleyball and swimming. Roder is currently the head softball coach at Weehawken…
Also Barbara Cahill Zielinski (Class of 1980) for track and field; Eddie Castellanos (Class of 2006) for basketball; Joe Classen (Class of 1987) for football and the late Frank Scott, who was an assistant football coach and the school’s athletic director. Mike Taglieri will receive the Jerry Molloy Award for his contributions coaching youth football and baseball.
Most of Hoboken gets to read the Hoboken Reporter on Friday or Saturday, so the organizers are hoping that some people read this and realize that there’s still a chance to attend the festivities. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at the door. So make plans to attend…
There are other local athletes who will compete in the Penn Relays Carnival this week like Adam Khriss of Secaucus in the 400-meter hurdles and William Woltmann of St. Peter’s Prep in the shot put. Woltmann signed his letter to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is such a great achievement for the young man. Woltmann will try to compete in both football and track and field at MIT…
In softball, Ferris remains red hot and is the lone local team that is still undefeated at 6-0. Pitcher Jaylene Sierra collected the 100th hit of her career in a 6-2 win over Dickinson, a game where Sierra fired a three-hitter, striking out 13…
North Bergen knocked off defending Hudson County Tournament champion Hudson Catholic, 10-7, which gave new North Bergen head coach Shawn Stacevicz a win over his former club…
In baseball, St. Peter’s Prep is the No. 8 ranked team in the state, thanks to the hot bat of Dom Meleo, who had three hits and four RBI in a 10-2 win over North Bergen…
Hudson Catholic is also doing well, thanks to Tino Salgado, who has 16 RBI already this season in just six games. Salgado had three hits and five RBI in a win over McNair Academic…
Hoboken also has a hot hitter in Michael Effinger, who has 12 RBI thus far in eight games. Effinger had three hits and four RBI in a win over Lincoln…
Josue Fernandez had three hits and three runs scored for Union City in a 7-6 win over Passaic Valley…
Secaucus’ Kerry Mitchell fired a two-hit shutout over Ridgefield, striking out seven…
Hudson Reporter High School Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (8-1). 2. Ferris (7-2-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (5-1). 4. Union City (4-2). 5. Memorial (6-4)…
Hudson Reporter High School Softball Top Five: 1. Ferris (6-0). 2. St. Dominic Academy (6-1). 3. North Bergen (4-3). 4. Bayonne (4-3). 5. Hudson Catholic (4-4). – Jim Hague.

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.