Ponch Leaves a Legacy

Members of the Stallions baseball team once coached by Ponch Ruiz celebrate their recent championship victory. Ponch’s son, Eli, is third from the left, front row. Eli’s older brother, Brandon, who helped coach the team this year, is at far right. The boys’ hand gestures signify Coach Ponch’s jersey number, 44. Their uniforms also carried his name and number (inset).

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.