Ponch Leaves a Legacy
November 17, 2020
Near the end of the musical Alexander Hamilton, the show’s title character muses:
Legacy, what is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me.
JCP&L employee Exar “Ponch” Ruiz Jr. left a legacy after passing away April 6 from complications of COVID-19. His battling spirit lives on in the youth baseball team he coached and his youngest son, Eli, plays on. The Toms River (N.J.) Stallions recently won a championship in tribute to his dedication to the team.
As noted in a memorial article published this past spring, Ponch shared a love of baseball with his family. A materials control specialist at the Lakewood facility, he spent much of his free time coaching Eli’s team. After he passed away, instead of folding without a coach, team members decided they wanted to stick together and play in Coach Ponch’s honor. The Stallions not only played, they notched a 7-2 record during the regular season and took home the championship.
As a league official said, “To say this was an emotional victory is probably an understatement.”
Ponch’s former work manager, Lyz Pelfrey of Transmission Warehouse & Material Management, put it this way: “With everything going on in the world right now, to see what his son’s team accomplished is refreshing. I know Ponch would be proud.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy heard about the team’s accomplishment and paid tribute to Ponch during his remarks at a recent press conference. The Borough of Pine Beach also renamed the baseball field Coach Ponch Field for the championship tournament.
Well done, boys. For Ponch, it’s a legacy well earned.