Little League to enshrine NJ gov and Harlan Coben

AP News
Posted: Aug 16, 2013 5:20 PM

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be sharing a hall of fame with one of his idols, Bruce Springsteen. Not, however, for any hidden musical talent.

The governor is going to be inducted Aug. 25 into the Little League Hall of Excellence in South Williamsport, Pa. He'll be joined by a teammate from the 1970s, best-selling author and friend Harlan Coben, also a New Jersey resident.

They'll be the 46th and 47th inductees.

Other ex-Little Leaguers who went into politics and made it to the hall include Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush. Springsteen was enshrined in 1997.

Christie and Coben played ball in Livingston, N.J. Christie was a catcher; Coben played first base and outfield. Christie's father, Bill Christie, was their coach.

The 50-year-old Republican governor called his selection to the hall, established in 1988, a great honor.

"Moments spent on the Little League field being coached by my father and playing with my good friend Harlan are some of my greatest childhood memories," Christie said in a statement from the league announcing the selections.

Little League President Stephen Kenner said "to be able to recognize two distinguished individuals who have achieved so much in their professional and public service careers, and who started their lifelong friendship on the same Little League team, is a unique opportunity for our program."

In a 2009 op-ed piece, excerpted in the league's announcement, Coben remembered his first game in Little League with Christie after having been out the first half because of illness.

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"I'm standing there in my baggy green and white uniform, not sure what to do. A roly-poly kid in catcher's gear sees my hesitation. He hurries over with a big smile, calls me by my name, tells me how excited he is that I'm finally ready to play. He introduces himself. His name is Chris Christie and he, this remarkable 10-year-old boy, spends the rest of the day going out of his way to make me feel welcome. ...

"If he hadn't gone into politics, he'd have made an excellent coach."

The two will be honored before the Little League Baseball World Series championship game Aug. 25.