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Bogota baseball coach Daniel Limone has passion for seeing students excel

Sports had always been a big part of Daniel Limone’s life when growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey. Playing baseball and basketball with his friends until the street lights went on and basketball in his own backyard. However, baseball ended up being Limone’s passion. Going to extreme of playing a 9-inning game by himself when other kids would not be able to due to completing homework.

“People thought I was crazy, I would hit the ball and run and it was a whole fantasy game,” Limone explained to Double G Sports. “It starts in the backyard and during the play that translated onto the field so I didn’t realize I what I was processing. The ball off the front stop and diving for a ball were some of the things and love of the game comes in.”

Recognizing Limone’s enthusiasm for baseball was his mom, “It was his passion, seeing your children do what they love to do and a wonderful thing for parents. Dan was always full of life and everything Danny loved he would give 130 percent. I remember the first year he was in tee-ball, my husband and I said mistakenly go out there and hit a home run and of course in tee-ball who could hit a home run and he did. He ran around those bases and it was so funny.”

“He loved the game, loved to play and my husband said he had so much raw talent and can you imagine if he worked hard at and he did work hard and what motivated him. My husband and I owned our own businesses so that gave me the privilege to be at his games whenever they played. He was on the travel team, I was the scorekeeper/team secretary and they went to Arizona, Florida and Virginia and always so gratifying.”

Daniel Limone on the support from his parents: “My mom fostered my entire baseball career, my dad always practiced with me but my mom was always pushing me to play on this and that team. I played on a club team called the Thunder and had a lot of pro players. She would do the book and was with me every step of the way. Luckily, she owned her own business, made sure to get out of work and be at every game.”

Participating in Little League, Limone was on a team where his father was a sponsor/coach and getting the chance to play with teammates Marquis Liverpool, Shooter Hunt, Dave Cole and Steve Mimms. In addition Limone attended a summer baseball camp that was run by Seth Bendian who was also best friends’ with former major leaguer and Teaneck High School standout Doug Glanville. The highlight of playing in Little League for Limone would occur in a Little League segment by the CBS show 48 Hours.

Therese Limone on her son and teammates featured on 48 Hours, “How it came all out is one of the kids dad’s from a different team was an editor for CBS and he came up with the idea and sold the spot on Little League. From the onset of the Little League Draft, the coaches who were one of Danny’s buddies and my husband who had never coached before. They started filming in March and 500 hours of film whittled down to a 20-minute segment. I remember when they came to the house for interviews, Danny is bouncing the ball off the floor and he always was moving and he never could never sit still. They said to Danny you are on the last place team on the roster, Danny said no, we are the 2nd to last place team and a really big difference.”

“Going up against the first-place team, Danny made an outrageous catch and that is being the smallest kid on the team. The kids threw him into the air, a group effort but because he made the winning catch on the fly ball it was an unbelievable feeling. We still watch the tape, enjoy it and marvelous time. In the summer we had a huge barbecue and invited the CBS cameramen and everybody that participated in the event.”

By the time Limone reached Teaneck High School, he thrived on the diamond playing for head coach Ed Klimeck. Playing shortstop, Limone earned First-Team All-League in his sophomore, junior and senior years. “It was a great school, one thing I liked about it was the diversity at the school and baseball team the reflected it well, Daniel Limone described. To be recognized as the top shortstop in the league was a super honor. Coach (Ed) Klimeck with a football background, hard-nosed and that got through to me.”

After graduating from Teaneck, Limone decided to keep playing baseball in the summer. Not only playing for a summer league team Bergen Saints coached by Garrett Teel but for a college showcase team and in front of major Division I schools. “I did get a lot of interest from Division I schools, specifically Seton Hall and even as big as Coastal Carolina,” Limone explained. “They (Coastal Carolina) offered me to redshirt me my freshman year, looking back I wish I did but I wanted to play and not sit out for a year.”

While contemplating the decision of what college to attend, life ended up changing drastically for Limone. Therese Limone on the incident, “Danny was playing with his buddies and got into a terrible football accident. He broke his collarbone and it came out through the skin and it was awful. He had a plate put in his shoulder and it was devastating.”

Seriously considering William Paterson University at the time, there was still apprehension Therese remarked. “While we were looking for colleges, as any mother would be because I had seen Danny play, every mother has a version of their kid and saying this kid is Division I material and went to baseball camps. I said to Jeff Albies at William Paterson University, I don’t mean to be offensive but why would my son want to play for a Division III school while being courted by Division I schools and Albies said, because I will play your son.”

After a period of time and when Limone thought his career might be over with, Therese called Albies and inquired whether he would like to meet Daniel. A meeting of the two clicked perfectly but Albies said that Limone would not come on board as a shortstop because the team already had a starter in place.

For Limone, that did not matter, just getting not only the opportunity but chance one day to start at shortstop ended up being good enough. Playing three games at second base his freshman year, Albies made an abrupt switch with Limone moving over to his natural position of shortstop.

“I don’t regret the decision, when you think of starting varsity your freshman year and saying that you have to be really the best when you actually get an opportunity and realize I’m here playing the game, just as fast as these guys and strong,” Limone said. “It’s nice to feel that re-assurance and confidence and you take it from there. As a smaller player I was always the little guy weighing a buck 50.”

“Shortstop is a big responsibility, you get a lot of action and pressure plays and you are the coordinator. You have to know the signs for pick-off, you call the pick-off and let the outfielders know what pitch is coming. There are so many responsibilities that come with playing shortstop, you need to be strong, in tip-top shape and luckily I had some good wheels on me and a pretty good arm. I never looked at practice as a work and looked at it as a chance to shine, out compete someone and play the game with honor. I looked up to Derek Jeter and Rafael Furcal.”

Finishing up his freshman year by starting in 22 of 26 games played, Limone batted .290. Proving to his teammates and upperclassmen, Limone went the extra mile by hopping the fence at the baseball field multiple times to practice on his own. Albies ended up presenting Limone the Louis M. Greco Memorial Award.

“Freshman year I was trying to prove myself, there were a lot of older players and seniors,” said Limone. “They saw my work ethic and everything I brought to the table. It was a little bit weird because a lot of the seniors were fighting for the same spot as I was. When I finally earned the spot they liked and appreciated me. My freshman year was a little bit rough, started making some routine errors that I would never make and not sure hos fast the play was but I did not have that confidence yet and re-assurance. A quarter through earned the starting spot and once I got that starting spot I felt re-assured.”

“Coach would be walking past the field and saying what you are doing here. He ended up giving me the award for dedication and hard work. To win that as a freshman was unbelievable. The first time I stepped on campus everything is faster, you are seeing faster pitching and when you get a ground ball hit to shortstop seeing faster runners. A completely mental sport so you have to believe in yourself.”

Looking to prove freshman year was no fluke, Limone faced another major challenge in his life with his mother diagnosed with breast cancer. The numbers reflected in Limone’s play with his batting average dipping to .254. On the flipside, Limone found success on the base paths swiping 30 bases.

Therese Limone on her son’s sophomore year, “He was on target to break the stolen base record his sophomore year but I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and affected him greatly.”

Limone on his mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, “Every year I had a.300 batting average or better but she got breast cancer and it really affected and I didn’t play well. That is when I didn’t love the game because I was worried about her.”

With his Mom fully recovered after the bout with breast cancer, Limone bounced back in a big way his junior year. Starting in all 34 games, batting .348 with 25 RBI and stealing bases. Keeping his skills fresh in the summertime, Limone played for the Toms River Black Sox in the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League. With Mike Lauterhahn taking over as head coach, Limone cemented his legacy at William Paterson University, Limone broke the single-season school stolen base record in his final season as Pioneer stealing 38 bases and finishing up with a career total of 95.

“Senior year was my best performance, I broke the stolen base record and something I always wanted to do,” Limone said. “You really appreciate some of the guys at the top of the leaderboard. Dan Pasqua, a former Yankees player and pretty cool to surpass a guy like that.”

“I played on an awesome junior team the Tom River Black Sox in the ABCCL Jersey Shore League, that program is unbelievable and a big help for me in furthering my development and skills and very successful program. When you are around that competition, I beat out a kid out who was the starting shortstop at Seton Hall. I was honored as first-team quarter century as the best shortstop and in those leagues you are playing against all college kids.”

“Coach Lauterhahn coached me senior year and really had a positive effect on me. Albies was a legend, playing for a coach that won two College World Series titles and coached for over 30 years. My last game at William Paterson we lost a playoff game to Montclair State. We were going up against their ace and they beat us. Not specifically a great game for me, I went 1 for 4 with a stolen base. That was a tough one and I actually cried.”

For Limone, it was just not about athletics, majoring in Business and having the responsibility of balancing out playing baseball and hitting the books. “You can ask anyone in that position, you really have to organize yourself and balance things out,” Limone remarked. “I would constantly think about baseball, waking up in the morning, have a game and the last thing I would think about is writing an assignment. You have to be disciplined enough to actually do the assignment.”

“You would meet the guys at 12 o’clock for a 3 o’clock game and get there two or three hours before the game, play the game and whether you have to a good or bad game when you get home it’s so hard to focus and jump into your work and some people are not good at it. Some people don’t look back at it but I thought about the game and wish I could have made that ground ball or diving play.”

“One day during my senior year, I’m walking to my math class and look around and see three different school buses with my picture on them. Graduation Day was great, one of those days you realize it’s over and transitioning to a new point in your life.”

After spending five years at William Paterson, Limone would encounter another obstacle with finding a stable job in the real world. Working at WB Mason for six months, Limone landed in the Teaneck school system working as a part-time substitute assistant with autistic students’. Looking to improve his teaching credentials, Limone attended Montclair State as a part-time student and earned not only a Master’s Degree but a teaching certificate. On the cusp of signing a contract with a school in Newark, Limone decided to attend the Bogota High School graduation ceremony where his career took another turn.

“The special education director was at the graduation and literally said come in that day for an interview,” Limone described. “I knew they wanted to offer me the job but I had to tell Newark of my decision. I knew I had good chance of working here at Bogota but had to put a little pressure on and they ended up giving me the job.”

Working in the Bogota Middle School as a teacher’s assistant, Limone managed to work his way back into baseball. Seeing an opening for the 7th and 8th grade team, Limone immediately seized upon the opportunity. Off to a 6-0 start, Limone caught the attention of the Bogota High School varsity baseball coach who ended up going back to school thus leaving another opening that Limone capitalized on.

“He suggested me for the job, saw me as the coach and said good things about me,” Limone commented. “He said this guys knows his stuff and I’m going to leave the program in his hands.”

“In the first year we were really bad, with six starting freshman and went 4-15. It was tough because I was not sure how serious baseball was in Bogota when I became the head coach. I tried to keep it serious and stern, my kids shouldn’t be missing practice and making baseball a priority.”

“Going into the second year I think people understood the expectations, demanded accountability and focus. Since that second year we have improved a lot, definitely not a dominant team and don’t get us wrong one of the smallest schools in the league and playing in a very strong league with teams’ like Emerson, Cresskill, Midland Park and park Ridge. They are all teams’ that have great Little League teams’ and we’re coming out of the dark against these teams.”

“We have been very competitive and beaten every team in the league at least once over the course of eight years. Getting a push for the playoffs every year, we made the playoffs 4 out of 7 seasons, and always near .500. The last two years have not been great going at 8-12 but we’re respected because of the players effort, hard work and playing summer and fall ball.”

Helping the process in making Bogota High School varsity baseball respectable Limone says is the work done by volunteer coaches, parents, alumni, athletic director Brad Di Ropo and Superintendent Damian Kennedy.

“Chris Heck organizes the summer program, Brad Di Ropo and Damian Kennedy have done a really nice job and gotten us a batting cage,” Limone said. “We have had at least one alumni come out and help with practice and a couple of our guys in college come down and work out with us and really nice to see that. The donations we receive from people when we fund-raise.”

“What matters at the end are building the relationships and why you coach the players. Seeing them grow, progression and maturation. I say always say respect the game if you hit a ground ball to the shortstop, hustle your ass off. It’s something as a coach you would have done and seeing a kid lagging to first base makes you want to jump out of your skin. Play the game with love, passion and fun. I have a senior now who was a below average middle school player who could not catch a fly ball in 7th grade and by the time reached junior year was the starting first baseman and batting fourth so it’s really nice to see that.”

“It’s really the students’ at Bogota High School, a small town vibe, a square mile where everybody knows everyone and kids have an opportunity to start varsity. You go to bigger schools and 30 kids are trying out for the team and it’s a different story. With the tough mentality and small school we’re able to rise to the occasion.”

Limone has also discovered a way to interject athletics into the classroom. Teaching middle school math in the special education resource room. “As far as teaching I try to teach and coach from a similar type of approach with being disciplined and making sure you do the little things and stay accountable,” Limone explained. “I incorporate a lot of sports into it because the kids relate to and that have a low attention span.”

On the baseball team, Limone has enjoyed a close friendship and bond with assistant coaches Jared Deutsch and Joey Algieri who is also Limone’s cousin.

Jared Deutsch on Daniel Limone, “Four years ago a parent player told me to come down and introduce myself. So I went down to the field to introduce myself and said to him if you would like me to coach I will be committed and really like to join the staff. It took a week and half before Coach Limone and assistant coach Joe Algieri made me feel I had known them forever and now we are like family.”

“Before Danny became a head baseball coach and teacher at the Bogota elementary school, he worked at a coffee shop where my mom used to go every morning. He treated my mom with so much respect.”

Daniel Limone on the job Jared Deutsch has done on the baseball team, “He has been unbelievable, volunteers all his time and a very genuine thing. He really loves to be around the program and players. He is mowing and raking the field and giving the kids extra batting practice. He doesn’t get paid, sometimes on the field before me and values being a coach and nice to have someone part of the alumni program.”

“He works well with the pitchers’ really well, I used to call the pitches. Jared has an unorthodox and innocent way to it and he doesn’t think too much about it and calls the pitch and actually pretty creative.”

Assistant Coach Joey Algieri on Coach Limone, “I never had a brother growing up, but from the ages of 4-7 Danny and I were together every day of the week. Danny was that type of kid who didn’t need any type of toy to keep his attention, his imagination was endless and when we would play one of his made up games and hours ran by quickly. As we got older and focused more on sports we were not around each other much, besides family events which we would either be late to and definitely showed up in our baseball uniforms. Once we hit high school I was luck enough to play Danny six times over the course of our high school careers. Usually we had their number but I remember my senior year at Paramus Catholic they ended up beating us and Danny had a great game. He came up with a clutch hit in the late innings. I also remembered him making every play that game with ease, no matter how hard it should have been. I had the opportunity to play against a lot of great players when I went to St. Joe’s and Paramus Catholic but I cannot think of another player that played with the competitive nature as well as heart Danny did.”

“Once we hit college and I had the opportunity to play I was able to see Danny play three times over his four-year career. I always knew that Danny was extremely talented and in the right hands under a great coach Jeff Albies at William Paterson. He would elevate his game to the next level. To this day, anyone who asks me about Danny I say the same thing, a few inches taller and a few more opportunities that kid would be playing on TV.”

“When I was the assistant coach at Dwight Englewood 8th grade team, we played an 8th grade Bogota team which I found out was coached by Danny. I saw him and we embraced each other for a good 4 to 5 minutes because it was at that moment we understood our paths were crossing again. I remember saying to the team, this team is going to be disciplined, fundamental and loud, so don’t let them intimidate you.”

“After a five inning slap around I think we lost by 10-11 runs, I remember shaking hands and even they whooped us I remember Danny bringing out the positives of the game and complimenting me as a coach. One quality Danny has the he finds the positives in every situation. He never wants you to feel bad about something so he finds ways to make you feel better about yourself.”

“If you fast forward three years later I coaching the freshman at Tenafly High School and decided to step away to finish grad school and be more present for my wife as we were expecting our first child. Tenafly had kept the door to come back if I had changed my mind and I remember my wife telling me that I couldn’t walk away because she knew it meant a lot to me to continue to coach. I reached out to Tenafly and they got a new AD. I had been given the job, but never officially received a call and the season was going to start in three days.”

“I got a phone call later in the evening and it was Danny and he said that his JV coach quit on him and he was in a crunch. I told him if I didn’t hear from Tenafly in the next two days I was in. Two days later I called Danny and I was the JV coach. I believe in fate and knew that if I didn’t receive a call from Tenafly because Danny and I were supposed to coach with each other. This is something that anyone dreams about.”

“This would have been my sixth year coaching at Bogota and second year as varsity assistant. I thought I loved the game of baseball and coaching, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to coach with Danny that I truly understood what love for the game is. Danny coaches just as he plays, he is always thinking about the next pitch, next inning and next game. He puts it all out there every game and even in a win we’re on the phone 1-2 hours after the game analyzing what we could have done better. I did not know much about the program before I got there, but now with my extremely close friend and assistant coach Deutsch I found out the turnaround that Danny has brought with him.”

“To be honest, I know that I am his cousin but I am not surprised at all. Danny has the ability to bring out the best in people and he touches the lives of every person he comes across. He is one of the people, as well as players you will never forget. The amount of graduates that come back to practice with the team each year, some of which that don’t even play in college. That shows the love and respect the players have for him. I am truly blessed to be not only the coach on the staff but his cousin. I cannot think of person I would rather coach with than Danny and I keep hoping this never ends. Anyone who knows Danny would probably say they are going to have to wheel him off the field and I would agree with them. When someone says baseball is life, they were probably thinking of Danny or watching him play. Who knows he might have said it to himself. I look forward to the future of coaching with Danny and what it holds for us as a staff.”

Limone on the comments from Coach Algieri,, “It flatters when you are super competitive, those inches shouldn’t matter when you are good enough and then find a way. It means a lot so many people speak that way after my career has been over with for so many years. I grew up in Teaneck, got to coach in a town I almost grew in and now coaching with my cousin. We used to play against each other and we watched each other play in Little League and now to be coaching kids just like when we were kids and just to be doing with him means a lot.”

The burning competitive nature has not left Limone as he continues to play baseball, this time in the Metropolitan League while playing alongside with his friends Nick Ramaglia and Mike Garcia. “I still play in an adult summer league, the North Haledon Reds in the Met League which is pretty competitive and you appreciate it more than you ever did and lucky to play against older kids I coached,” said Limone. “Number one it’s an honor to do that and number two when you are on that field and only got five years left before you settle in with family and get old and age hits you. I have been playing baseball since I was five years old and now I got five years left. Sometimes you forget about the most amazing opportunities and get into a routine.”

Limone has more reasons to celebrate life these days. Last November getting married and in two months Limone and his wife Patricia will be expecting their first child. Limone has an older sister who has two kids.

“There is no way I would possibly be here, everyone throughout the whole process,” Limone explained. “I’m just the lucky guy, benefitting the from the stage people have set for me and there is no way I would be able to get where I am in being a good coach, nice teaching job, great wife and kid on the way. None of it is accomplished by myself. I feel embarrassed, there are people truly deserving of so many great things and to be recognized is an honor.”

“To be where you want to be, you have to put in the work and you are just not going to end up by waking up and going through the day as an average person and you have to be better than average and set the bar high and that’s what I try to do for my family.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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