Fordham University’s Athletic Hall of Fame has some impressive names on its membership list.
Frankie Frisch. Vince Lombardi. Vin Scully.
Now, former North Pocono baseball standout Joey Runco can add his name to that group.
The Rams’ second baseman from 2013-2016 was the final member announced in a countdown of the 13 inductees in the class of 2021, a list that also includes former Blue Ridge softball standout Jocelyn Dearborn, who was announced two weeks ago.
“It means a lot. A lot of hard work,” said Runco, 27, who will graduate dental school May 15 from the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s nice to get some recognition after four years of playing there. Some times are hard, some times are good. You just have to go with the ups and downs of baseball.
“In order to get an award like this you have to be able to play a lot of games, because you have to make your mark on the program, so playing one or two years isn’t gonna really do it for you. So you have to stay healthy and make the most out of all the time that you’re on the field. Not even on the field, but in the classroom and in the community.”
Runco made his mark in many aspects. He was on the Atlantic-10 all-academic team four times. He set the school record for games played (218) and career hits (242).
“That’s a lot of hits. It’s also a lot of outs,” Runco said.
Twice he led the A-10 in stolen bases, and his 91 career steals are tied for second in school history. Plus, he got to meet Scully when Fordham went west and played at Southern Cal.
“That’s pretty cool right?” Runco said. “There’s a lot of famous Fordham alums that people don’t realize went to Fordham.
“When we played at USC, we all got to meet Vin Scully and that was pretty cool. He’s a great guy. His voice is just insane, isn’t it? It’s iconic.”
So, now, is Runco, who with Dearborn will be enshrined in a ceremony Thursday, Oct. 7 during the school’s Homecoming weekend. It’s an honor he never expected, although he thought he’d see plenty of playing time as the first recruiting class of head coach Kevin Leighton.
“I kind of had an idea because coach Leighton, we were in his first recruiting class, and I think I was actually his first recruit at Fordham,” Runco said. “When a new coach comes in, he wants to get his guys in there to a certain extent. I got to play from day one. I was lucky with that. He had confidence in me and he never took me out of the lineup.”
Runco missed three games in his Fordham career, those at the end of his junior season before the A-10 playoffs to rest a hamstring injury suffered a month earlier against Saint Louis.
“For a month I was playing with a pulled hamstring and wasn’t playing as well because I couldn’t run, and that’s basically what I did well in baseball,” Runco said. “At one point that year I was third in the country in stolen bases with 29 with like a month to go, and I ended the season with 29 because I couldn’t run.”
Now he has his eyes set on a residency in orthodontics in Colorado, and after that? “We’ll see how it is, maybe stay out there, just because it’s beautiful out there a lot of outdoor stuff to do,” said Runco, who tied the knot with his wife, Samantha, last Labor Day weekend. “But it’s hard to leave home, you know. So, yeah, we’ll see what happens with that. If there’s a good opportunity out there maybe once a day if not come home and work around the Scranton area probably.”
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.