May 15, 2012
QUEENS, N.Y. - The St. John's baseball program honored one of its great names in a pregame ceremony on Sunday, May 6, as it officially unveiled the Howie Gershberg Bullpen in right field at Jack Kaiser Stadium. Nearly 75 alumni, friends and family were on hand for the unveiling of the Bullpen, which serves as a reminder of the everlasting impact that Gershberg had on the program.
The day's events began with a breakfast reception in the Carnesecca Arena lobby and featured remarks from Director of Athletics Chris Monasch, head baseball coach Ed Blankmeyer, Athletics Director Emeritus Jack Kaiser and St. John's baseball alum Greg LaCasse. A video submitted by former St. John's standout Frank Viola was also played for those in attendance.
Following breakfast, members of the Gershberg family and the St. John's baseball alumni took the field at Jack Kaiser Stadium for a pregame ceremony and watched the unveiling of the Howie Gershberg Bullpen from home plate. Gershberg's grandson, Stefan, then threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The alumni were then invited onto the Belson Stadium terrace to watch St. John's defeat USF in walk-off fashion, while taking part in an Alumni Day barbeque.
"Howie was a wonderful coach, teacher, colleague and friend," remarked Kaiser. "He's one of the top men I've ever met in my life. He knew how to reach his players and they listened and carried out his instructions."
The pitching coach from 1974-86, Gershberg helped lead St. John's to 10 NCAA Tournament berths, including a pair of College World Series appearances. During his tenure, the pitching staff ranked in the top three nationally in ERA on three occasions and two pitchers led the nation in ERA. Gershberg saw 11 of his pitchers sign professional contracts and three reach the major leagues, including Viola, the MVP of the 1987 World Series and winner of the 1988 American League Cy Young award, and John Franco, who ranks fourth all-time in MLB history with 424 saves. Since 1988, the baseball program has annually presented the Howie Gershberg Award to its Most Outstanding Pitcher. Following his time at St. John's, Gershberg spent 19 seasons as a pitching coach in the Angels' organization developing numerous All-Stars, including Chuck Finley, Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez.