Bloomfield HS head baseball coach Mike Policastro grateful to achieve 300 career wins

Bloomfield High School head coach Mike Policastro holds a sign after winning his 300th career game, joined by his team.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield High School baseball team defeated Memorial of West New York, 9-6, on Senior Day on Monday, May 13, at Bloomfield Middle School field, giving head coach Mike Policastro his 300th career victory.

A 1989 BHS graduate and former standout Bengals baseball player, Policastro has been at the BHS helm since 2007. He was previously a head coach at Manchester Regional High School in Haledon and later at Saddle Brook High School 

In the win over Memorial, senior Evan Freid had two singles and two RBI and junior Kevin Obiedzinski had a single and two RBI.

The Bucs then defeated Belleville, 4-3, Tuesday, May 14, at BMS field to improve to 8-14 on the season. It was Policastro’s 250th win as the Bengals head coach.

The 14th-seeded Bengals had a good run in the Greater Newark Tournament. BHS lost at No. 6 seed Caldwell, 12-2, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, May 8. Bloomfield beat No. 19 seed Newark East Side, 11-1, in the preliminary round on Wednesday May 1, and upset No. 3 seed Columbia, 5-4, in 13 innings over two days, Friday and Saturday, May 3-4. Bloomfield lost to Union City, 7-3, Thursday, May 9, at Bloomfield Middle School field. Freshman Jack Menake had two singles and Freid had two RBI.

Policastro looked back at his long career.

“I mean, achieving 300 wins was a goal that I set out for myself when I began my head coaching journey back in 1996. I got a taste as a JV coach at Wallington High School for two years under legendary Jimmy Kondel, who had over 400 wins. I accepted the head coaching job at Manchester Regional in 1996 as a 25-year old head coach for the first time, by myself with no assistant coach. I never dreamt that I would still be coaching high school baseball over 30 years later. (1996-97 at Manchester, 24 wins, 24 losses; 1998-2000 at Saddle Brook High School, 27 wins, 44 losses), replacing John Celentano, who was a very successful coach.”

Policastro coached at Union High School under Mike Hamberg, who was the head coach for 10 years and won almost 200 games, including the 2002 Group 4 state championship and finished  No.1 in the state by the Star-Ledger. 

“Under Hamberg, I learned a different style of coaching from the way I did it when I was a head coach. “He taught me patience and not teaching the way I played. His biggest lesson was ‘will a kid play better if you yell at him or talk to him?’ I learned a lot from Mike in those five years we worked together. When I was hired in Bloomfield in 2006-2007, I brought that way of coaching with me and we were very successful for an extended period of time, going to two state sectional championship games in my first two seasons. But times change, kids change, you have to evolve as a coach more than once in most cases. You cannot be set in your ways because all groups of kids/teams are different. I have changed the way I coach several times over the years because of the types of players that I have had. I have coached tons of talented players in my time as a coach (70-plus players having played in college over 18 years), they are the reason that I am celebrating 300 wins. 

“We can give them all the knowledge in the world about the ins and outs of baseball, but they have to be able to execute on the field and produce the wins. The 300 is a tribute to all the players I have coached at Manchester, Saddle Brook, and 18 great years at Bloomfield, along with the many assistant coaches that I have had the privilege of working with in my time as a head coach. My assistant coaches over the years, Scott Rhodes (Saddle Brook), Steve Tice, Mark Amato, Kevin Miller, Tommy Petrillo, Mike Bruno, Joe Azzolino, Mike Aldiero, Sean Downey, Rich Adams (twice), Liam Penberthy (twice, current pitching coach) and (current assistant coach) Mike Carter Jr.. These assistant coaches are the single most important reason why we have a successful program, as high school baseball cannot be coached alone, there are far too many things that need to be done in practice and during games for one person to do it by themselves.  

Mike Policastro, center, poses with his assitant coaches. To his right is Liam Penberthy and to his left is Mike Carter Jr.

“The great part of my current staff is that Liam Penberthy, who played for me, was the former head coach who won a sectional championship as a player for me and as a coach at Glen ridge. Mike Carter Jr, was such a great player (at Bloomfield HS) and at Rutgers; he is so knowledgeable, it is like having three head coaches in the dugout at the same time. We all work very well together and I share this with all of these guys because they were a huge part of my success. They may not get the recognition in the papers, but they get my recognition, respect, and thanks for all they do for our program and myself. I couldn’t do this job without them. 

“Lastly, I would like to thank (BHS athletic director) Steve Jenkins, who gave me the opportunity to come home to Bloomfield 18 years ago. The greatest baseball job I could have asked for and the only job I ever wanted, he made my dream of coaching the Bengals a reality, so big thanks to him. Hopefully we will continue to be successful and there will be many more victories to come. What was truly special about yesterday, not only was it a Senior Day win, but how many former players and parents showed up to the game to be there for the occasion.”

Photos Courtesy of Mike Policastro