07 Mar Miners Name New GM
While playing third base for the Rutgers University baseball team 15 years ago, Vinnie Sangemino learned much more than just how to hit a curve ball or how to handle a vicious one-hopper at the hot corner. He learned about teamwork and leadership and how a true leader treats the people around him with respect.
Now 37, he still thinks about those and many other lessons learned during his playing days at Rutgers for coach Fred Hill, the legendary skipper from a legendary New Jersey sports family dynasty, who ran the Scarlet Knights baseball program from 1984 through 2013.
Sangemino says he’ll have Coach Hill on his mind as he takes over as the new general manager of the Sussex County Miners, becoming the third GM in the team’s nine-year history with his recent appointment by team owner Al Dorso.
“Maybe more than anything else,” Sangemino said, “Fred Hill taught you that, no matter what you were doing, do it right. Don’t look for an easier way, don’t look for shortcuts. He was old-school. He told you what was what. Whatever challenge was in front of you, face up to it, and give it all you’ve got.
“That’s how I intend to approach this new job with the Miners. I’m extremely excited to be part of this team. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m not afraid of that. I’m jumping right into this.”
He’s already spoken by phone with the Miners new field manager, Chris Widger, and said they were quickly on the same page as far as working together to begin a new era for the organization. He especially appreciated Widger’s ideas about roster building and the importance of role players who can “grind” and get things done, much like he did back at RU.
“I was never a 6-3 slugger, and I was never the fastest guy on the field,” Sangemino said. “I was 5-11, and I knew I had to outwork people to earn my place in the lineup.”
Growing up in Nutley, Sangemino is a lifelong New York Yankees fan and will no doubt talk with Widger about Widger’s year playing for Joe Torre’s Bronx Bombers as a backup catcher to Jorge Posada, catching, among others, the GOAT, Mariano Rivera.
Sangemino, wife Nicole – who’s expecting a baby in July – and eight-year-old Holden moved from Morris County to Sparta during the height of the Covid pandemic. He’s been to a handful of Miners games at Skylands Stadium and said that, while he enjoyed them, he sees great potential to turn them into bigger “community events” that will draw bigger crowds than ever.
“I’ve found that people in Sussex County value relationships,” he said. “I want people to feel a relationship to this team. Not just come to games and then go home, but an ongoing relationship. I’d like them to feel like this really and truly is their team.”
To that end, Sangemino immediately began reaching out to local businesses and community groups to try to deepen existing partnerships and to form new ones. He’d like to see a night at Skylands become more than just the ballgame but also a chance to bond with neighbors and maybe even pick up some local farm products.
“There are a lot of ideas to bat around,” he said. “I’m still a newcomer here, but we chose to move to Sussex County for a reason. I think it’s a better way of life here. I think there are certain values here. I hope we can create more of a Sussex County feel at the ballpark.”
Since his college days, Sangemino has built a diverse resume, most recently as a business founder and entrepreneur in new-wave technologies, including Blockchain and Web3. Before that, he worked for 10 years establishing partnerships to produce job opportunities for students of The Phoenix Center, a non-profit organization helping students up to age 21 with autism, multiple disabilities, behavioral and intellectual disabilities.
In Augusta, Sangemino takes over for former Miners GM Justin Ferrarella, who resigned after last season to take the position of president of the Lexington Legends, who play ball in the independent Atlantic League which, like the Frontier League, is a partner league of Major League Baseball. Ferrarella ran the Miners from 2017 to 2022. Nationally known minor-league front office man Dave Chase served as the team’s first GM in 2015 and 2016.
COACH HILL FILE: The man who made the big impression on the Miners new GM, Fred Hill, died in 2019 at the age of 84. He won 941 games at Rutgers and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame. In 2017, Rutgers opened the Fred Hill Training Center, a 22,500-square-foot indoor facility with pitching machines, batting cages, and a full-size infield. Prior to Rutgers, Hill coached football and baseball at Montclair State University, after coaching both sports at the high school level for nine years …
Hill’s son, Fred, was Rutgers head basketball coach from 2006 to 2010, after assistant coaching jobs at Lehigh, Rider, Marquette, Seton Hall and Villanova … Hill’s brother, Brian Hill, rose through the college ranks to become head coach of the NBA Orlando Magic, later an assistant with the New Jersey Nets and the Detroit Pistons.