Colasurdo passed away last Friday after a brief illness.
Anthony Stratton is the current head baseball coach at Weehawken who perhaps knew Colasurdo the best of anyone in the district. After all, Stratton had Colasurdo as a teacher, later serving as Colasurdo’s assistant with the baseball team for 12 years and finally taking over for Colasurdo as head coach more than a decade ago.
“It’s a personal loss that can’t be filled,” Stratton said. “He’s gone too soon.”
Stratton was first asked to describe Colasurdo as a teacher.
“He was easy going and laid back,” said Stratton of Colasurdo, who was also an accomplished musician who played several instruments and sang with the traveling local band Rockwell. “He cared about all of us. He never raised his voice, but still got the respect. I think as students, we all knew the type of guy he was and he knew what we were all about.”
When Colasurdo became the head baseball coach at Weehawken, he asked Stratton to come back from coaching at River Dell High School to return to his alma mater.
“I went right back to Weehawken in a heartbeat,” Stratton said. “He welcomed me back with open arms.”
During Colasurdo’s tenure as head coach, the Indians managed to win three consecutive Bergen County Scholastic League championships when the team featured 2003-2004 Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year Danny Lopez.
“We had a great relationship,” Stratton said. “He gave me a lot of responsibility and gave me so much free rein. He taught me about the positive side of athletics. I learned so much for him over our 12 years.”
When the time came for Colasurdo to step down as coach after going from a technology teacher to the principal at Webster School, he recommended that Stratton replace him.
“That was the ultimate honor,” Stratton said. “It meant so much coming from him. He gave me the word that he wanted me to be the coach and pushed for me, even though I didn’t teach in the school.”
Stratton has been a long-time teacher at Memorial High School.
“He knew that it would take a lot of talk to get me the job,” Stratton said. “And here I am.”
It’s been 14 years since Colasurdo pushed the buttons to get Stratton to be his replacement and that’s an endorsement that Stratton will never forget.
“He helped me fulfill my ultimate goal to become the head baseball coach at Weehawken,” said Stratton, who also had a stint as the head football coach with the Indians. “I can’t thank him enough for that.”
Stratton was asked how he will remember his former teacher, mentor and friend.
“That positivity he always had,” Stratton said. “And that big smile on his face. He always had that big grin. I can see him right now coaching third and flashing the signs. It’s a big loss for us all.”
On a personal note, I knew Tony Colasurdo for the better part of the last 33 years, since I was hired as a sportswriter for the old Hudson Dispatch. I grew closer to Tony when I started working for the Hudson Reporter Newspaper chain and in particular covering news for the Weehawken Reporter.
Colasurdo knew that all he needed was make one phone call during those 14 years I covered news for the Weehawken Reporter and I was there. That’s how much respect I had for the man. We spent countless hours talking about anything and everything, from music to baseball. Colasurdo was a diehard Yankee fan, but I didn’t hold that against him, never changing my allegiance as a Met fan.
He was also such a great musician. I used to kid with him constantly that he should have been the fifth Beatle. I went to see his band play on a few occasions and was overjoyed to see my childhood friend and neighbor Rick Saltarelli join Rockwell as a singer last year.
I was also happy to be the guest speaker in 2016 when Colasurdo was inducted into the Weehawken High School Hall of Fame, a night that brought many of his former players together to honor their coach. Unfortunately, they will all come together again this week.
I’m deeply saddened by Colasurdo’s passing. I was proud to call him more of a friend than a working colleague. I’ve been to my fair share of wakes and funerals over the last few weeks, but this one will hurt more than most. Tony will be sorely missed. Rest in peace and rock well, good friend. – Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.