Family members, friends, alumni, current students, and current and former Shore employees gathered on Shore’s baseball field on June 11 for the dedication of the Joshua Pressman ’97 Batting Cage, the result of a fundraising campaign led by Pressman’s Shore classmates after he passed away from cancer on August 19, 2020, at age 38.
“Josh was such a special person, with such genuine enthusiasm, I think we all probably can’t believe he isn’t here—and it would be so much more fun if he were,” said Grant Cooper, one of Pressman’s classmates who was among the group that created the campaign in honor of him and one of his great loves, baseball. Cooper was joined by Ethan Liebermann, Kate Sullivan, Anna Felton Faulk, and Loren Malfitano Borges—all members of the Shore Class of 1997—in making the campaign a success. Their efforts raised $16,000 in donations from class members, families, former faculty, and other friends to fund the outdoor batting cage, which was completed in time to see action during the baseball team’s successful spring 2022 season.
At the morning dedication ceremony, Pressman’s family—wife Flori and sons Marcus and Isaac—as well as current members of the Shore baseball and softball teams all took their turn in the batting cage.
Cooper read remarks prepared by Ethan Liebermann, who was unable to attend the event. “While I have no doubt the batting cage will bring more swings and more wins to Shore’s teams, I also know that it means so much more than that to this community. It will inspire future Shore students to bring the passion for life and its many wonders that Josh modeled every day.”
“This batting cage is both a wonderful tribute to Josh’s love of baseball,” said Director of Advancement Katie Kozin, “and an answer to a real need for Shore. This is the first time Shore has had an outdoor batting cage to support its baseball and softball programs. We want to say a tremendous thank you to the five members of the Class of 1997 for their leadership, and to the nearly 50 individuals who made contributions that made this space a reality.”
Kozin displayed a mockup of the bronze plaque that will be permanently installed at the batting cage. Pressman, the plaque reads, was “a beloved father, husband, son, brother, friend, colleague, scholar, class president, and athlete who left us too soon.” The inscription ends with a quotation from the Beastie Boys, one of Pressman’s favorites: “Be true to yourself and you will never fall.”
“We are a very special slice of the Shore community,” Kozin continued. In attendance at the dedication ceremony were Pressman’s family and parents, numerous other family members, and current and former Shore employees including Athletic Director Nancy McNall, Head of School Clair Ward, and her predecessor, Larry Griffin, who served as head of school for 30 years and was Pressman’s coach when he played on Shore’s baseball team. Many shared their thoughts with the assembled guests.
Griffin recalled Pressman’s focus on the baseball field—and in every area of his life. As a student, he was both class president and co-captain of the baseball team. “He gave every practice, every game his heart and soul. He loved healthy competition, and had an indomitable spirit. Josh’s talents spread from athletics to music to academics to leadership. What I want everyone to know is what a wonderful young man Josh was in his time at Shore. He brought smiles to our faces every single day. I hope that every player who ever sets foot in that batting cage strives to emulate Josh’s ambition and character.”
“Knowing that the cage is here as a result of Josh’s love of baseball and his time at the school, as well as being a way to memorialize a dear friend, makes this moment all the more special,” said Nancy McNall. “Thank you for giving back to Shore and creating our very own ‘field of dreams’ right here on campus.”
Clair Ward said, “It is such a privilege for us to feel like a part of the extended Pressman family today. It is so important to us for our students to know and understand that every day they are on this campus they stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. This generosity that you all have demonstrated reminds us that the campus has been shaped by the very people who love this school so dearly.”
When Flori Pressman spoke to the attendees, she pointed out the connection between the batting cage and Josh’s belief in doing everything the right way. “He ran with the correct form; he bowled with the correct form. He believed in behaving and treating people the right way, too. So I think that seeing students work on their form—whether on or off the field—would have been particularly gratifying to him.”
Pressman’s mother, Shari, spoke last. “Josh would have loved to be here today—and in a way, I think he is. This event will help his sons understand what kind of a man their father was.”