By Ryan Fennell
Middletown – Prior to Monday morning’s game between Middletown North and Marlboro, the Middletown High School North community gathered on the field to recognize and honor baseball legend and former North baseball head coach Rich Veth.
Veth served as head coach at Middletown North for 22 years before his death in 2002.
Veth, known as “One-Eight” to his players and in Shore area baseball circles, was inducted into the Lions Hall of Fame in 1993 and was also inducted into the Jersey Shore Hall of Fame.
Veth recorded 374 victories as the head coach at Middletown High School North and led the Lions to 13 championships, including state titles in 1983 and 1989.
Formed out of necessity in February 2011, the Rich Veth Diamond Club, a parent and alumni organization to help support the baseball team, organized Rich Veth Day on Monday when a sign and granite monument bearing his name and uniform was unveiled.
The sign decorated with an image of a Lions’ uniform with Veth’s name and number now hangs underneath the scoreboard in left field.
Current Middletown North head coach Jay Dooley, in his first year as head coach, played for Veth in 1993.
“One-Eight was a great guy,” Dooley said. “He taught me a lot about the game. He taught me a lot about being a man. It’s what I’m trying to bring back to this program.
“To honor a man like One-Eight, Rich Veth, is a great thing,” he added. “He’s a special man. He meant a lot to me. Whether he knew it or not, I’m letting him know now he was.”
Veth was able to reach countless students and athletes during his time as a teacher at North and as the baseball coach.
“Coach Veth was a great role model for his players,” said Dean Ehehalt, head baseball coach at Monmouth University and former All-State player for the Lions in 1982. “He inspired everyone to do their best. One-Eight taught us about competition, character and always emphasized family. He was definitely a positive influence on me and made me realize I wanted to coach.”
“After 23 years spent as a teacher, counselor and coach, I can truly appreciate what a tremendous influence Rich Veth had on me and so many who have played for him,” said Lions legend Chris Barnes. “Over the years, when his name was mentioned among the coaching fraternity within the Shore Conference, there is nothing but admiration and tremendous respect shared in the conversation.”