Joe De Bella


Joe was born in Elizabeth where he and his family lived on Smith Street. He began playing sports in the Elizabeth P.A.L. baseball league at Mattano Park; he also played basketball in the P.A.L's program at Kirk Center. Joe continued to develop his talent at St. Michael's Grammar School where the 1955 team wont he Parochial Grammar League. The team went undefeated and Joe won the league M.V.P. award, St. Michael's also won the city baseball championship that same year.

Under the legendary St. Mary's coach, Al Lo Balbo, Joe played varsity basketball from 1956 to 1959. He was a member of the 1956 team that won the E.S.C.I.T tournament, along with the 1957 State Parochial B Championship team. Joe was a starter on the 1958 team which went undefeated in the regular season and was seated number one in the UC tournament. The 1959 team also had a terrific regular season record but was eliminated in the county and State tournament. Joe made Honorable Mention on all City, and County Teams. He also played varsity baseball for 4 years and in his junior year made 2nd Team All County.

Joe played American Legion Baseball several years and was a member of Buzzy Fox's Bayway Post Championship game of 1958. He had the highest batting average on the very talented team that dell one game short of going to the American Legion National Tournament in 1958. In 1960 Joe signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. In 1982, Joe was inducted into the Union County Baseball Hall of Fame. He played in the Union County League, the Elizabeth Braves from 1959 to 1975. Winning the UCL batting title in 1965 and 1973, most total bases in 1959, 60, 65, 70 and 73, along with Most Valuable Player in 1965. He finished three times as runner-up to the batting champ and complied close to a .400 career average in the UCL. He also played for West Orange Athletic Association in the Essex County Baseball League that won the 1970 league championship. This talented team also claimed the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title that same year. Joe was one of the teams leading hitters on a team that was loaded with former minor leaguers and college stars. Joe's coaching career started in 1962 by leading Holy Rosary Grammar school to the Parochial League City Championship. He also coached at St. Patrick's and St. Mary's. At St. Mary's he was the head varsity coach from 1973 to 1976 after being the junior varsity coach for several years.

Joe's professional career in the trucking industry spanned over 35 years. He spent ten years with Transcon Lines in Los Angeles as Senior Vice President of Sales. He was also President and CEO of A.N.R. Freight in Denver. He completed his career as the Division Vice President of Central Freight Lines of Waco, Texas. Joe was the recipient of the American Trucking Association Outstanding Service Award in 1988. He also served on the American Trucking Association Sales & Marketing Council from 1982 to 1989. Joe has since retired and lives with his wife, Natalie, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He has 9 grandchildren, (enough to start his own softball team), one grandson, Ryan, and eight granddaughters all of whom he is extremely proud of.