30-year-old New Jersey high school baseball coach dies of COVID-19

CLIFFSIDE PARK, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A North Jersey community is mourning the loss of a 30-year-old baseball coach, one of the more than 260 COVID-19 related deaths in the state so far.

Ben Luderer was a teacher and varsity baseball coach with the Cliffside Park School District in Bergen County.

"Ben is a gift that was given to us that we were happy and privileged to have had for 30 years," Ben's father Bill Luderer said. "He was a wonderful person and connected with everybody that he knew. He had a great sense of humor, he was kind of sarcastic at times, but he was loving and caring."

Superintendent Michael Romagnino sent a letter to families in the community informing them of Ben Luderer's passing.

"It is with deep regret that we inform you of the death of Mr. Ben Luderer, a teacher in School No. 6 and our varsity baseball coach. Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to Mrs. Luderer, her family members, friends, and the entire Cliffside Park community," Romagnino said.

On Tuesday morning, Governor Phil Murphy tweeted about the death of Luderer.

"Saddened by the death of Ben Luderer, a young baseball coach whose love of the game pushed his players to new heights. Coronavirus has taken another New Jerseyan from us far too soon. Our hearts are with his loved ones and players, both past & present," the mayor said.

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In an Instagram post, the school district posted photos of Luderer as a coach and a player.

"Thanks for being a great coach, teacher, friend and always a mentor and role model for your students," the post read.

Luderer was a member of the 2008 Don Bosco Prep baseball team that went 33-0, according to an article on USA Today. He went on to play at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

"Saddened with the news of former student-athlete Ben Luderer's passing. He was tough, smart & a great teammate. Went on be a loved teacher & coach! We pray for Ben's wife and family!" the Marist Baseball Twitter account posted.

Ben Luderer was sick on Friday and went to the hospital, where he was put on oxygen and sent home with a Z-pack and other medicines. His family said he seemed to get be getting better but then passed away early Monday morning.

His wife Randi tested positive first, and they both felt terrible after accidentally exposing Ben's 71-year-old parents. So it was Ben who was checking on them every hour.

"My son would text or call literally every 15 minutes," Bill Luderer said "'How are you feeling? Are you doing OK? Have you taken your temperature?'"

Eric Pfisterer was a friend and teammate who played with Luderer at Dom Bosco.

"It's not just the old, it's the young," Pfisterer said. 'It's not just the sick, it's the healthy, and it can affect absolutely everyone."

The coach of the Cliffside Park Girls Volleyball Team wrote a message on social media of Luderer's impact after they met in a hallway six years ago.

"I never imagined we'd have the friendship we had today. Believe it or not, me and Ben actually knew each other in high school on baseball fields as seniors where he was a star at Don Bosco. In fact, Ben hit a home run that game and as I watched the ball go 20 feet over the fence in left field I never I thought I'd become such great friends with the person who hit it," the message read. "Through coach together, I really got to know Ben and see what kind of caring, helpful, and funny person he actually was."

In the letter to the community, Superintendent Romagnino said counselors would be available to students and their families.
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