During a career that spans nearly four decades, Phil Anastasia has covered every sport at every level, but he maintains an affinity for high schools.
Anastasia came to the Inquirer in 2008 and has dutifully covered South Jersey high schools and been the recipient of numerous writing awards. Now he has another honor – an upcoming Hall of Fame induction.
Anastasia and five other honorees will be inducted into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 58th annual Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey awards banquet. Several others will be honored at the banquet, including the Hot Stovers All-South Jersey team. The banquet is Nov. 25 at The Estate at Monroe in Williamstown.
Also being inducted are fellow sports writer Ed Hilt, along with former players Steve Mondile, Dennis Barth, Jack Shine and Brad Strauss.
Anastasia began his writing career in 1978 with the Courier-Post on a part-time basis. He became a full-time writer in 1980 and eventually became sports editor before joining The Inquirer in May of 2008.
"I was surprised, for sure," Anastasia said about his HOF honor. "When you are in this business, you don't think of yourself as the story. What you are writing about is the story."
During his expansive career, he has covered virtually every big sporting event, but scouring South Jersey and finding the best stories about local players has always tugged at his heart.
"I have covered Super Bowls, the World Series, NBA and NHL finals, the Olympics and Final Four, but I have always loved the high schools," he said. "I get such a kick out of covering high schools, as much as any of the other things I have covered."
A 1976 graduate of Gloucester Catholic, Anastasia says it is a thrill to be going into the Hall of Fame with two others from his school, Barth and Mondile.
Barth, the current head coach at Rutgers-Camden, enjoyed spectacular success as a player and head coach at Gloucester Catholic. He has also continued his late father Joe's outstanding legacy as the coach of Brooklawn's American Legion team.
Mondile, who coaches with Barth at Rutgers-Camden, played professionally in the Baltimore Orioles organization, where one of his roommates was Curt Schilling. He was also a long-time former scout for a few major-league organizations.
"Going in with those two guys from my high school, who were great players and are great coaches, makes it extra special," Anastasia said.