What makes a good shortstop? Take a good look at Joe Hernandez.

As far as defense goes, a good shortstop must possess excellent range, a strong throwing arm and an ability to field batted balls cleanly. Widely considered the most valuable defensive position in the infield, if not on the entire field of play, the shortstop must have confidence and be able to produce reliably on double plays, pick-off and steal attempts, bloop hits and so much more.

"Joe was such a gifted athlete, a prototypical shortstop but he could play any infield position," said Steinert High School baseball coach Brian Giallella. "He not only was a great hitter and fielder, but he had speed on the bases as well.

"He was a huge part of the state championship teams in '98 and '99. He is still in the Top 10 of seven offensive categories for Steinert Baseball nearly 25 years after he graduated. He ended his career with 108 career hits which ranks sixth all- time."

Hernandez batted eighth and still led the Colonial Valley Conference with a .489 average, including an 18-game hitting streak, in 1999. Making the Associated Press All-State Baseball Team, he was described as a flawless fielder.

"He was a two-sport player who was a good athlete," said Rich Giallella of Hernandez who also played varsity basketball at SHS. "Just as he was thin, he was quick and he was tall and you could see the ability that he had in both sports."

A three-year member of the varsity baseball program, Hernandez was known as a clutch player.

"His senior year he batted .500, he could play the game," Rich Giallella said. "In the big games he would come through. He played hard, he practiced hard.

"He knew what winning was all about."

Newspaper headlines and stories about Hernandez frequently buzzed about hot streaks and performing extremely well under pressure. He received recognition on numerous all-star teams.

"I would say the best memories I have from playing baseball at Steinert are winning three straight state championships and the bonds my teammates and I share," Hernandez said.

He is already in the Steinert Athletic Hall of Fame with those championship teams as the 1998 team was inducted in 2014, the 2000 squad entered in 2016 and the 1999 baseball Spartans were honored in 2022.

Hernandez also had big impact on the Hamilton Post 31 program, including helping the 2000 squad reach the American Legion World Series.

"Joe was a dynamite player for Post 31," said longtime skipper Rick Freeman. "(He was) a vital part of teams that at one point won 46 of 47 league games. He was a steady defender at shortstop. As our leadoff hitter, he set the tone for our offense. His at-bats always put pressure on the opposing pitcher. (He was) a very good base-stealer and excellent runner."

Hernandez has 17 years in as a UPS driver and he lives in Bordentown with his family.

"I've been married to my beautiful wife Lauren for 10 years," Hernandez said. "We have three kids, Dylan 14, Jace 10, and Violet 8. Our kids are very active in sports and in the community."