The memories of growing up watching and playing games at Miller Stadium remain fresh in Danny Marroquin’s mind.
Now the head baseball coach at Memorial, Marroquin and others who remember the stadium in its old glory are optimistic that a bright future lies ahead for the historic venue.
Thanks to a new turf and drainage system at Anthony Ferrainolo Field, the 91-year-old stadium is in the process of being re-positioned as one of the state’s premier baseball facilities. The completion of the renovation project’s first phase was on full display on June 4, when the Tigers hosted Nutley for what is believed to be the first home night game in the school’s history. The game, which also included Senior Night festivities and the formal signing ceremony for Coastal Carolina-bound shortstop Ernesto Polanco, also marked the first time fans were permitted to the stadium since local COVID-19 protocols went in effect.
”My memories run deep. The transformations that the stadium has gone through is amazing and it’s about time,” said Marroquin, whose history with the stadium dates back to watching the 1988 team, which won a national championship. “My memories are still there, they’re not going to change because there’s turf there now. Miller Stadium hasn’t really changed, it just looks a lot nicer now.”
The installation of turf was the first part of a three-phase project that began in 2020 and was celebrated with a re-opening ceremony on May 8, which featured several Memorial High School baseball and football alumni.
The second phase focuses on exterior improvements toward the spectator area and the installation of a new scoreboard. Phase 3 involves renovating the locker rooms and concessions as well as new netting in front of the spectator areas.
“Miller Stadium is such a sense of pride for the town of West New York that people just love it,” said Memorial athletic director John Fraraccio. “I don’t think there’s a stadium in the state of New Jersey that people love as much as Miller Stadium.”
”When we had the opening of the field before the first game, it was great that we had the old players from the past, from the 60s and the 50s, and members from the ’88 team there to open the field,” Marroquin said. “It was great because the kids could see that there is a history, a big history.
”We all fought for this. As a coach, I walk out to that field and don’t have to worry about anything other than baseball.”
As more and more fields across the state switched from grass to turf, the legendary grass and dirt field of Miller Stadium went from being an advantage to a disadvantage according to Marroquin. The stadium, which once hosted Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and was the venue for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Glory Days’ video, was showing its age and losing some of its nostalgic charm.
Miller Stadium is just one of the recreation fields that West New York has renovated since Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez was elected in 2019. Improvements to Centennial Field have also been made.”(Miller Stadium) is a town facility, but they involved everyone in the process,” Fraraccio said. “It was a collaborative effort with everybody. From the town, to the board of education, coaches, everybody. We got it right, everybody got it right, and that’s a credit to the town and the mayor and everyone who made it an inclusive project.”
Fraraccio and Marroquin cited several people of Rodriguez’s staff as instrumental in turning the Miller Stadium revitalization project into a reality. When the three phases are complete, they envision a baseball facility that is one of the best in the state but also honors the stadium’s past.
As part of reaching that goal, Memorial is hopeful that Miller Stadium will be the future home of the Hudson County Baseball Tournament finals and potentially NJSIAA Tournament games in years to come. Among the plans for next year is making Miller Stadium the host for a Hudson-Essex showcase quadruple-header, tentatively set for next April 30 that would feature Memorial, Bayonne, North Bergen and Kearny against Essex County powers Millburn, Nutley, Bloomfield and West Essex.
”You could just see the look in the (kids’) eyes and they can’t wait to be in that position and playing on that field,” Fraraccio said. “Every visitor that we’ve had come into the stadium, they want to come back and they love it just as much.”
”The kids loved it,” added Marroquin. “It was amazing. It was one of the best things we have ever done.”