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Saturday, June 15, 2024

INTERESTING FOLKS: NJ State Trooper Miguel Hidalgo Lives His Field of Dreams

Hildalgo connected several times. Photo by Joe Phalon, 8/2023.

Who hasn’t daydreamed about leaving the everyday behind and putting on a uniform and cleats to take the field as a professional baseball player?

Miguel Hidalgo got to live that dream.

As a New Jersey State Trooper while stationed in Hope Barracks, he often thought back to his baseball days at Felician University and wondered, “What if?” He had a chance to find out “What if.”

The Sussex County Miners signed Hidalgo to a one-day contract to play on Aug. 3, with his entire salary going to help purchase a semi-powered wheelchair for 11-year-old Cash Klem, of Stillwater, New Jersey, who suffers from cerebellar ataxia.

Hidalgo started at third base as the Miners faced off against the New Jersey Jackals. Defensively he owned the third inning, making a diving tag at third, and nailing a runner on a 5-3 put-out.

State Trooper Miguel Hidalgo played third base for the Sussex County Miners Aug. 3. Photo by
Joe Phalon, 8/2023.

Afterward, he was mobbed by spectators looking to get him to sign their programs, hats and baseballs. It was the first time anyone asked him for his autograph, he said.

“Yeah, that was the first time,” Hidalgo said. “It’s an extremely humbling experience.”

He hedged a little when asked if he’d hang up his badge if he could play baseball full time. “I’ve thought about it,” he said. But he added that his finds his career as a detective with the New Jersey State Police to be just as rewarding and a way to serve the public.

Even if he doesn’t have fans cheering him on during his police work where the only time, he’s asked for his signature, is on a police report.

How about as a second career? Many police officers line up an alternative line of work after they retire from the job.

“I still have to put in 16 years” until retirement, Hidalgo said. Restarting a baseball career could be a little challenging. But, hey, if Robert Redford could do it in “The Natural,” why not?

A standout player at Felician University in Rutherford, Hidalgo came to the team as a transfer student from Dutchess Community College in 2011, where he was a Green and Gold infielder for two years.

At Felician he was one of three Golden Falcons to hit for the cycle in a game against Chestnut Hill of Philadelphia. For the non-baseball fans out there, hitting for the cycle means hitting a single, double, triple and home run all in the same game. A rare feat.

Like most superlatives in baseball—and most sports, for that matter—players often don’t let themselves think about racking up records during the game.

“It was one of those moments when you don’t realize you did something, but it was definitely an awesome feeling afterward.”

Hidalgo came out of the game in the fifth inning, but Miners Chris Widger had him take the field before being replaced to allow the crowd on hand to give him a standing ovation.

State Police officers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey served as honor guard for the National
Anthem. Photo by Joe Phalon, 8/2023.

By then Hidalgo had compiled a career 0 for 2 batting record, but more important, he more than met his goal for Cash Klem, who enjoyed the game as a Miners’ VIP.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.