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AROUND THE VALLEY: Lehigh’s improved baseball stadium to be dedicated on Saturday morning
Anthony Rinaldi will always root for the Lehigh University baseball team.
Rinaldi, the son of a Hoboken, N.J., policeman, earned a scholarship to play baseball for Lehigh in the 1980s.
He was a four-year letterwinner and a two-time captain of the team then called the Engineers and helped Lehigh win an East Coast Conference regular-season championship in 1984.
Rinaldi graduated from Lehigh’s famed School of Engineering in 1988 and has gone on to found the Rinaldi Group, a commercial general contracting and construction management firm with corporate headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., and offices in downtown Manhattan as well as Boca Raton, Fla.
The Rinaldi Group has over 3,000 employees and has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the country, a testament to what Rinaldi learned at Lehigh.
His son, also named Anthony, followed in his footsteps and attended Lehigh and also played baseball, something his father called “another dream come true.”
That’s why Rinaldi’s company made a $1 million donation to the school for improvements to its baseball complex.
But Rinaldi was not alone in his desire to want to do something special.
Several other benefactors, some of whom prefer to remain anonymous, also got involved and on Saturday morning the baseball program will have a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony for J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park.
Along with a new name, the complex has seen improvements to both the functional use of the field and the aesthetics of the facility to improve the overall experience.
The latest improvements have been made possible due to the significant contributions of Dr. Neal and Dr. Jim Walker.
Neal is a Lehigh alum and both brothers grew up as childhood friends of Lehigh baseball coach Sean Leary. Their father, Dr. J. David Walker, was a highly respected engineering professor at Lehigh University.
After his passing, the Walkers felt compelled to recognize their father for his contributions to Lehigh.
“He taught us both an unending love of learning both in the classroom and in our sports endeavors,” the Walker brothers said in a release. “We felt that naming the field in his honor was the perfect reflection of his passion for teaching and enables others to do to what they love.”
The improvements included a new outfield fence, a new scoreboard and upgrades made to the batter’s eye in center field. The area surrounding J. David Walker Field has also been upgraded.
A donor recognition plaza and a covered pavilion for fans and alumni to gather has also been added to other recent improvements such as a new synthetic turf infield and larger dugouts.
Since the District 11 playoffs have also been held at Lehigh in recent years, the facility has become a prime venue in the local baseball community.
For the Walkers, Rinaldi and others, it is clearly a special place for people who care about the school, baseball and the power of a great education.
“The Walker family contribution was paramount to make these improvements happen,” Rinaldi said. “On top of that a few other families got involved and we’re just proud to be one of them.”
Rinaldi is looking forward to the ceremony on Saturday and expects a great turnout for what should be a day of appreciation.
“I have a lot of roots at Lehigh,” Rinaldi said. “Having the ability to give back to a school that has meant so much to me and my life, well, it’s another dream come.”
DOUG SNYDER HONORED
Allen boys basketball coach Doug Snyder has established himself as one of the best coaches in all of Lehigh Valley athletics.
But before he returned to coach at his high school alma mater, Snyder carved his niche as an outstanding coach at Princeton High School, in the shadows of Princeton University where he was a student and player for the legendary Pete Carril.
On Nov. 18 at the Mercer Oaks Country Club in West Windsor, N.J., Snyder will be inducted into the Princeton High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Snyder was the head coach at Princeton from 1986-97 and his teams captured three straight Central Jersey Group II championships from 1992-1994.
In addition to Snyder, those 1992-94 teams will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Those teams set school records for most wins in a single season and featured three of the school’s top 5 all-time leading scorers in Bram Reynolds, Rodney Derry and Kirk Webber.
Snyder’s successful ways have continued in Allentown. In 20 seasons, Snyder’s Canaries have gone 308-210 and have won three league and three District 11 championships.
If interested in attending the banquet, contact Bob James at (609) 921-0946.
Former Morning Call sports writer Mark Will-Weber will be inducted into the Moravian College Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 3 at Johnston Hall.
Will-Weber wrote for The Morning Call in the early 1980s before embarking on a highly successful career as head men’s women’s cross country coach at Moravian.
He was men’s coach from 1987 through 2005 and women’s coach from 1992 to 2005 and was also an assistant track & field coach.
Will-Weber led the women’s cross country program to 10 consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference Championships from 1993-2002 and his teams won three NCAA Division III Mideast Regional titles in 1993, 2000 and 2001 while competing nine straight years at the NCAA Division III National Championships.
In his time leading the men’s program, Will-Weber guided the Greyhounds to 46 wins in 70 dual meets and six straight MAC titles from 1993 through 1998. He also had 19 men earn NCAA Division III All-Mideast Region honors and four go on to compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships.
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