It is long overdue for Steinert High School to make Joe Bocchini an Honorary Spartan. True, he did not matriculate at SHS, but he has been faithful to the Green & White for 30 years and counting.

The contributions of Joe Bo are visible. Be it the baseball scoreboard at Steinert, or in some other ways that help the Spartans remain a top-class program, Joe’s presence is felt.

He began following Steinert baseball games closely in the mid-1980s and a natural progression was to carry that attention over into the summer when many of the Spartans play for the Hamilton Post 31 entry in the Mercer County American Legion League. He has been known as Hamilton Post 31’s No. 1 fan for years.

“We really didn’t have anyone fundraising, we had no one to take that on and raise the money that we needed to run things right,” said longtime Post 31 manager Rick Freeman. “He actually donated the scoreboard (at Rich Giallella Field) to us and Steinert. We paid him back, but he bought it for us so we could put it in.”

Ably assisted by Joe Gorla, who had two sons that played baseball for Steinert and Post 31, Bocchini runs a fund-raising golf tournament which supports Post 31’s efforts to remain a top-notch program.

He has traveled to see Post 31 play in Maryland, Delaware and Long Island. He has made the annual July 4 trip to Binghamton, N.Y., to see Hamilton play in the tournament there. Many highlights came in the Summer of 2000 when Joe and Post 31 traveled to Rhode Island for regional competition and to Illinois for the American Legion World Series.

This is in addition to the millions of miles he logged following SHS baseball through the years.

He’s also been a great friend to some of Steinert’s feeder programs, including the Nottingham Little League where he has sponsored a team for 40 years. He has put many miles on his car following Nottingham LL, too, including the World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and the regional tournament in Bristol, Conn.

True, he helps other leagues including some from other parts of the township, but there’s no denying that his heart belongs to the Green & White of Steinert and Green & Gold of Post 31. Bocchini grew up in the Villa Park section of Trenton. He played for the Trenton PAL Little League and Cook A.A. Arriving at Trenton High School, Bocchini and 175 other young men tried out for the thriving baseball team. Joe got beat out by all-county athletes at second base, third base and catcher. He joined “an excellent tennis team” at THS but never lost his love for baseball. He did play third base for Trenton Junior College before matriculating at Murray State and moving on to a career that progressed from lawyer to judge to Mercer County prosecutor.

The pressures of work may be lessening due to his retirement as prosecutor, but it seems likely that he will continue his labor of love with youth baseball programs, especially those on the east side of the township.

“It’s sort of embedded in me to be a baseball guy,” he said. “I enjoy helping the kids.”