The late Jim Rivera was one of the good guys. "Jim was a very quiet unassuming guy that always had a smile on his face," said Jim Bowen, remembering his baseball and soccer teammate from the late 1970s at Steinert High. "I can't remember him having a bad thing to say about anybody. Just a nice guy."

Opponents didn’t feel the same way, especially the Neptune High squad that Rivera no-hit in his varsity debut as a Spartan. "He was certainly very intimidating on the mound and it made you glad he was on your team," Bowen said.

Rivera played three seasons each of soccer and baseball but he is perhaps best remembered as an all-state pitcher who excelled for the Green & White of Steinert as well as the Green & Gold of Hamilton Post 31.

He was part of the richly talented staff that led the Spartans to Steinert's first baseball state championship. Rivera, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 37, enters the SHS Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 1978 baseball team that went 20-4 and won the NJSIAA Group IV crown and he also is inducted this year for his impressive accomplishments as an individual.

Previously, he was included as a member of the benchmark-setting 1977 boys’ soccer team that was part of the inaugural induction class in 2006.

A two-time all-county selection in baseball, Rivera earned all-state recognition in 1979 and he was selected by the New Jersey Baseball Coaches Association to play in the annual all-star game.

While his high school career spanned the 1977-79 baseball seasons, Rivera compiled a 22-7 record from 1978-80 in the Mercer County American Legion League. He averaged 10.08 strikeouts per nine innings and finished with a 1.83 earned run average. His best year was 1980, when as an 18-year-old who just completed his freshman year of college, went 10-1 with 106 strikeouts and a 1.01 ERA and was the MCALL Pitcher of the Year.

In 1982, was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 15th Round and was assigned to the Pulaski Braves of the Rookie League. In 1983, Rivera was promoted to the South Atlantic League’s Anderson Braves and he received a Pitcher of the Month award at that "A" level ball in Anderson. He was promoted to the Durham Bulls of the Carolina League in 1984. In those three years in the minors, he struck out 192 while walking 76.

After baseball, Rivera returned to New Jersey and earned a degree in engineering technology.

Note: In the photo above, The Rivera family, flanked by Steinert athletic director Rich Giallella and Committee Chair Frank Lugossy, accepts the induction into the SHS Athletic Hall of Fame for the late Jim Rivera.