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Other than a three-year break for law school, Kurt Lundgren pitched from the time he was an 11-year-old Nanuet Little Leaguer until 2006 when, at age 45, a recurring arm injury shut down his sturdy right arm for good.

That means Kurt pitched competitively for more than 30 years, through a banner career at Nanuet, Columbia University, the Mets minor-league system and various semi-pro leagues. It means tens of thousands of darting fastballs and dancing knuckle-curves. It also reflects an unbridled passion for the game that never was extinguished.

“I always loved playing baseball,” Kurt says simply. “I never wanted to stop.”

Golden Reign as a Golden Knight

 Success followed every stop along the Lundgren express. The slender right-hander with the curly blond locks fashioned a reputation as arguably the premier pitcher in Golden Knights history. He was Rockland Player of the Year in 1979, when he went 11-1 with a minuscule 0.89 ERA, losing only to Ramapo – a loss that still stings to this day. He also pitched the Section 9 championship-clinching victories for the Knights in 1977 and ’79, and was the staff ace in 1978, going 9-2 to help lead Nanuet to a share of the County championship. He won 26 and lost only 4 in his three years on varsity, and was a two-time Daily News All-Star and first-team All-County honoree.

“Kurt was the best pitcher I ever had, and I had some good ones,” said Rich Loughlin, Nanuet’s head coach from 1969 to 1982. “He had a sneaky fastball and a knuckle-curve that dropped off the table. He was smart and had a great temperament. He was unflappable.”

Roaring for the Columbia Lions

 At Columbia, playing for sub-.500 teams, Kurt won more than one-third of the team’s games over four years, set school records for strikeouts in a season (90) and career (270), was Ivy League and Eastern Collegiate Baseball League (ECBL) Pitcher of the Year in 1983, and first-team All-ECBL for two years. He also was the starting pitcher in an all-star game at Yankee Stadium pitting the best Division I collegians from New York against New Jersey. Kurt pitched three perfect innings and caught the eye of a gaggle of scouts.

Pro Career with the Mets

 After two seasons of playing in the Cape Cod Summer Baseball League, the top-regarded league of its kind in the country, Kurt signed with the Mets as a free agent upon graduation from Columbia (with a degree in English literature) in 1983.

He spent five years in the Mets organization, the last three for Class AA Jackson in Mississippi. His best year was 1985, when he went 8-4 with a 3.21 ERA to earn Pitcher of the Year honors for the Jackson Mets.

“My time in the minors was awesome. Most of the stars on the Mets roster through the ‘80s came up with me, or I with them,” Kurt says, citing players like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Lenny Dykstra, Dave Magadan, Kevin Elster, Randy Myers and Rick Aguilera, the latter two being his roommates at various times.

Pitch counts were non-existent in high school and college in Kurt’s day, and the accumulation of innings finally took their toll. Kurt underwent rotator cuff surgery in 1986 and saw the speed of his fastball plummet from the low 90-mile-per-hour range to the low 80s. Unable to perform at his best, Kurt retired from pro ball after the 1987 season and, after working for a year, enrolled in the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson.

Getting Back in the Game

 When he opted to come back to New York to take the bar exam after graduating from law school in 1992, a friend contacted him about playing in a league in Connecticut for players 28 or older. While testing out his arm, Kurt made a surprising discovery: “I thought, ‘I can throw again without pain.’ Suddenly I was back to normal and I could have fun again.”

Given a new lease on his baseball life, Kurt re-indulged his passion, playing in several semi-pro leagues at once, some of them age-restricted and others unlimited. He counts among his baseball highlights the 1997 national championship and 1998 national runner-up finish in the Over-28 league, playing on a squad with former Rockland players including ex-Nanuet teammates.

Fond Recollections of Nanuet

 When he unwinds the memory reel to his days in a Nanuet uniform, Kurt remembers his double duty pitching on the freshman team and playing shortstop for the JV at the same time – “I had a game every day that season, I never had to practice. It was wonderful.”  He remembers being brought up to the varsity during his sophomore year and spending the next three seasons in the privileged company of many fine players: shortstop John Panaro (“the best high school player I ever saw”), fellow pitching ace Lou Klass (“he claims responsibility for teaching me the knuckle-curve”), the Rodish twins – Tom in centerfield and Bill behind the plate – left-hander Jim Kavakis, outfielder/catcher Gary Bonomolo, first baseman Tony Bloise, outfielder Steve Pizzuti, and many others.

Kurt abundantly praises the Nanuet system and coaches who nurtured him along and cultivated his talent, from the late Rich Conklin, his freshman coach (“an outstanding athlete himself at Nanuet and a tremendous coach”) to JV coach Jerry Bonomolo (“a father figure who gave me a lot of confidence”) to varsity coach Loughlin. “Coach Loughlin instilled in me a sense of discipline and toughness. He made us believe in ourselves, that as a small school we could stand up to the big boys.”

Kurt, who’s 63, stayed connected to baseball as a volunteer pitching coach for Clarkstown North under head coach and longtime friend Mike Pisano, for a period of seven or eight years ending in 2011. Kurt has also achieved professional success as an attorney and has been a partner for 20 years in Thwaites Lundgren & D’Arcy (formerly Thwaites & Lundgren), a commercial litigation firm in Harrison, N.Y. He lives in New City with his wife of almost 28 years, Teresa. The have two sons,  Christopher, 26, and Alec, 21. Chris expects to graduate this spring from the Nursing program at RCC, and Alec is completing his senior year at SUNY Binghamton.

Kurt was enshrined in the Nanuet High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Today we recognize him along with the other Class of 2024 inductees into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame. Congratulations Kurt!