It was a special day on Saturday, April 16 for the Montclair State Red Hawks baseball program. Not only did the team sweep a doubleheader against The College of New Jersey, with one being in walk-off fashion, but they also hosted Alumni Appreciation Day. The Red Hawks welcomed back numerous players from their 87-season history, some that we're even part of their three NCAA Division III National Championship teams in 1987, 1993, and 2000.
However, among all the alumni Montclair State welcomed back, one of them was given a special day. That man was John Deutsch, who had his number 27 retired by the Montclair State Red Hawks. Deutsch is the first Montclair State baseball player to have his number retired by the program and just the third student-athlete overall, joining football icon Sam Mills's number 62 and women's basketball icon Carol Blazejowski's number 12.
It’s Montclair State Alumni Appreciation Day here at Yogi Berra Stadium! Furthermore, the Red Hawks officially retire College Baseball Hall of Famer John Deutsch’s number 27. Here’s Deutsch throwing out the first pitch. #ComeFlyWithUs #JerseySports pic.twitter.com/BvVnUY2qlA
— Adam Grassani (@AGrassani6) April 16, 2022
"It brought back great memories," said Deutsch. "The guys here coming back, the great memories I had in Montclair. Montclair was a family to me. My mom and dad passed away early on in my career in Montclair so the coaches and players kind of took on a role. My friends and coaches were like my father. So that's kind of the memories it brought back to me."
John Deutsch played for Montclair State from 1986 to 1989. During that time, he put together a career that will be quite the tall task to even match. He was a three-time First-Team All-American, two-time First-Team All-NJAC, and won three American Baseball Coaches Association All-Region accolades. To this day he remains MSU's all-time leader in runs (207), home runs (58), RBIs (236), total bases (496), slugging percentage (.776), and OPS (1.291). He also set season records for on-base percentage (.587) and walks (62) in 1989.
However, Deutsch's most impressive year of all was in 1987. In that year, John smashed an unbelievable 22 home runs and drove in 77 runs, both of which still remain as school season records. Most importantly, he hit .526 with three homers while driving in 10 runs in the postseason that year, leading Montclair State to their first ever NCAA Division III National Championship. He was named the tournament MVP following hitting two home runs in the championship game against Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
"Well deserved," said Montclair State baseball head coach Dave Lorber on Deutsch's number getting retired. "John is arguably one of the best baseball players to set foot in a college game when you look at his numbers pound for pound. To have a special moment like that before a game was beautiful. To have so many of our alumni back in our home. It was just a really great experience for those guys. I'm just so thankful they showed up."
John Deutsch was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth round of the 1989 MLB Draft. He went on to play six years in the minor leagues, five with the Dodgers and one with the Chicago Cubs. He was elected to the Montclair State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 as well as the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. And on April 16 2022, he not only threw out the first pitch before Montclair State's doubleheader against TCNJ, but had his number 27 retired by the Montclair State Red Hawks forever.