Friday, August 16, 2013


South Williamsport, PA - Little League® Baseball and Softball President and CEO, Stephen D. Keener announced today the enshrinement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and author Harlan Coben into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Governor Christie and Mr. Coben were teammates in the Livingston American Little League in the mid-1970s, and Governor Christie’s father, Bill Christie, was their coach. Enshrinement into the Hall of Excellence is the highest honor that Little League can bestow. Little League will honor Governor Christie and Mr. Coben at a ceremony prior to the 2013 Little League Baseball® World Series Championship Game on August 25.
“To be able to recognize two distinguished individuals who have achieved so much in their professional and public service careers, and who started their life-long friendship on the same Little League team is a unique opportunity for our program,” said Mr. Keener. “Governor Christie and Mr. Coben have gone on to accomplish great things since their Little League days, and we’re thrilled to welcome them into the Little League Hall of Excellence.”

Both born in Newark, N.J. in 1962, Governor Christie and Mr. Coben’s families eventually moved to Livingston where they played sports and went to school together. On their Little League team, Governor Christie was a catcher, while Mr. Coben played first base and the outfield. They graduated from Livingston High School in 1980. They also played on the same basketball team and share an affinity for fellow Little League Hall of Excellence enshrinee, Bruce Springsteen. Since their days as Little Leaguers®, the two men have remained close friends, with Mr. Coben showing his public support for Governor Christie’s New Jersey gubernatorial campaign.
In a 2009 op-ed in The New York Times, Mr. Coben remembered their first Little League experience together.
“Because of a bout with rheumatic fever, I’ve missed the first half of the season,” wrote Mr. Coben. “This is my first game back, and I’m standing there in my baggy green and white uniform, not sure what to do. A roly-poly kid in catcher’s gear sees my hesitation. He hurries over with a big smile, calls me by my name, tells me how excited he is that I’m finally ready to play. He introduces himself. His name is Chris Christie and he, this remarkable 10-year-old boy, spends the rest of the day going out of his way to make me feel welcome…If he hadn’t gone into politics, he’d have made an excellent coach.”
A graduate of the University of Delaware (1984) and Seton Hall University School of Law (1987), Governor Christie, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 to 2008, was sworn in as Governor of New Jersey on January 19, 2010. He and his wife, Mary Pat, have four children and reside in Mendham, N.J.
“Moments spent on the Little League field being coached by my father and playing with my good friend Harlan are some of my greatest childhood memories,” said Governor Christie. “It is an honor to be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence, and receiving this recognition with Harlan and my father makes it even more special.”
With more than 50 million books in print worldwide, Mr. Coben’s last six novels all debuted at number one on The New York Times bestseller list. He has won numerous literary awards, including being the first author to win the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award. Mr. Coben, a 1984-graduate of Amherst College, and his wife, Dr. Ann Armstrong-Coben, have four children and reside in Ridgewood, N.J.
“Little League to me was the smell of freshly mowed grass, the crunch of the gravel in the field’s driveway, the tangy fair of early spring,” said Mr. Coben. “It was oiling up the baseball mitt and wrapping it in rubber bands, the dirt from a slide that never quite came out in the wash, the taste of the concession stand cheeseburger, the sound of infield chatter, the casual leaning against the chain-link fence with my friends. It was baseball. And it was childhood.”
Governor Christie and Mr. Coben will be the 46th and 47th inductees into the Little League Hall of Excellence. The highest honor for a Little League graduate, the Hall of Excellence includes politicians, authors, doctors, veterans, astronauts, fire fighters, athletes, actors, musicians and more. Established in 1988, all Hall of Excellence enshrinees are immortalized in the newly reopened World of Little League®: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store. Learn more about the Little League Hall of Excellence.
Governor Christie and Mr. Coben are all scheduled to visit the Little League International Complex on Sunday, August 25 to be honored before the Little League Baseball World Series Championship Game at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
“The values of character, courage and loyalty that are at the center of the Little League motto are personified in Governor Christie and Mr. Coben,” said Mr. Keener. “That these two distinguished citizens have maintained their friendship for 40 years is a testament to the lessons of teamwork and leadership that are emphasized at every level of Little League.”