Born: May 19, 1954
Richard Aldo Cerone was born May 19, 1954 in Newark. Rick attended Essex Catholic High School in East Orange, the same institution that produced long-distance runner Marty Liquori and, alter, fencing champion Peter Westbrook. Rick starred for the Eagles on the baseball diamond, the football field and, not coincidentally, on the fencing team. He earned All-State recognition in all three sports.
Rick accepted a scholarship to nearby Seton Hall after graduation, and helped the Pirates earn a pair of College World Series berths. He also made All-American twice.
In the 1975 Major League Draft, Rick was selected by the Cleveland Indians with the seventh overall pick.
Rick began his pro career in the minors but quickly ascended to the big leagues. He made his Indians debut in August of 1975 and ended up seeing action in 7 games that season. Following the 1976 season, Rick was traded to the expansion Toronto Blue Jays for veteran DH Rico Carty.
Rick did not hit for a high average, but he handled pitchers well, possessed a strong arm and had a knack for driving in key runs. Prior to the 1980 season, the Yankees traded Chris Chambliss for Rick. They needed a replacement for the late Thurman Munson. Rick had a great year both in the batter’s box and behind the pate. He slugged 14 homers, drove in 85 runs and batted .277. The Yankees won the AL East and Rick received a slew of MVP votes, finishing seventh.
In 1981, Rick helped the Yankees win the pennant with another solid season. He entered the annals of Yankee lore during the playoffs, after a loss to the Brewers. Owner George Steinbrenner descended into the locker room and started chewing out the players. Rick told him to keep his opinions to himself.
Rick continued to be a valuable backstop and team leader in the majors after his initial stint with the Yankees. He played for the Braves, Brewers, Red Sox, Mets and Expos—and returned to his beloved Yankees twice more, in 1987 and 1990. In all, he played 18 major-league seasons.
Rick never wandered far from the game after his playing days. He did booth work for various networks in the mid 1990s and also got into team ownership with a minor-league club in Wilmington, North Carolina. He revived the Newark Bears franchise in 1998 as an Atlantic League club and owned the team for six seasons.