Ocean County’s Most Famous Athlete of All Time Is…
Anytime there is a discussion centered on who or what is the best or greatest in any category it’s sure to spark a debate. Whether it’s movies, music, presidents, quarterbacks, you name it you can find yourself in a pretty lively discussion trying to defend your opinion of the GOAT (greatest of all time).
I stumbled across a story this morning on nj.com where they listed the most famous athletes from each of the 21 counties in New Jersey and naturally I was drawn to Ocean County. To me there is a difference between the “greatest” and the “most famous” with much of that depending on the sport you played. It’s hard for someone in a sport like wrestling to be as “famous” as one who plays baseball.
I’ll give you a moment to think about who was listed as the “most famous” athlete from Ocean County and it was who I thought it would be.
Al Leiter became a legend in April of 1984 when the Central Regional High School pitcher struck out 32 Wall batters in a 13-inning game that was eventually called because of rain. This was long before social media and most people did not know about it until the next day when they read the local papers.
The senior lefthander threw four no-hitters that spring and pitched the Golden Eagles to their only group state championship. Leiter would go on to pitch for 19 seasons in the majors with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Marlins and Mets and won three World Series titles, was a two-time All-Star and threw a no-hitter. He has become a highly respected analyst and color commentator for the YES Network and MLB Network.
While I was not surprised at the choice I am sure there are many who would make a case for Todd Frazier, who became a national celebrity before he was a teenager and of course is in the midst of an outstanding major league baseball career. Frazier benefits a bit from the exposure athletes get today compared to Leiter’s era especially through social media and you could make a strong argument for him being Ocean County’s most famous athlete.
Todd was listed in the group of “others considered” along with Frankie Edgar, Jim Dowd, Christie Rampone, Martin Truex Jr., Damion Hahn, Frank Molinaro, Andrew Valmon, Art Thoms, Jason Groome and Parker Bohn III. If you don’t know who they are I guess they are not that famous or you just don’t follow sports.