John F. Bujanowski, 52, a U.S. Postal Service supervisor and a baseball player in South Jersey’s Rancocas Valley League for more than three decades, died Sunday, July 12, at his home in Edgewater Park.
Mr. Bujanowski had scored a run and hit a double in a Senior League game Sunday morning when he told his teammates he didn’t feel well. He took himself out of the game and returned home, where he died of a heart attack, said his wife, Wendy.
Mr. Bujanowski played for Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League for 34 years during four different decades. He was a rightfielder and then became a designated hitter, and although he wasn’t always in the lineup in recent years, he could come in and easily psyche out a young pitcher.
“What I remember about John, and playing against him, is that he was always sitting on a certain pitch, and if he got it, he was going to take it deep, or drive it into a gap somewhere,” former Burlington Mets pitcher Shaun Babula told the Burlington County Times.
While Mr. Bujanowski was all business on the field, after the game, he’d extend a friendly handshake to opponents, Babula told the paper.
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Bujanowski grew up in Riverside and graduated in 1986 from Riverside High School, where he played football, baseball, and was a wrestler. He was inducted into the Riverside High School Sports Hall of Fame for baseball.
He played football for one year at Widener University, but his lifelong passion was always baseball. He was able to continue his playing career long after his school days through the Rancocas Valley League. For the last 15 years, he was joined on the Vincentown Merchants by his son, John N. Bujanowski, a centerfielder.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rancocas Valley League decided to cancel its current season, which is why Mr. Bujanowski was playing in an 18-and-above league on his final day. He had every intention of playing for Vincentown again, once play resumed, an official said.
Athletics ran deep in the Bujanowski family. His grandfather was Francis Joseph “Bucko” Kilroy, an all-American at Temple University who had a 13-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles and was a two-way lineman on their championship teams of 1948 and 1949.
Son John said his father began teaching him the game by hitting him ground balls at age 5. The two bonded over baseball.
“My dad was a straight shooter on the ball field,” his son said. “I was more analytical, and broke it down. He said, ‘Keep it simple.' He broke me out of a lot of slumps that way. He kept me loving the game. No one can ever take that away from me.”
Outside of sports, Mr. Bujanowski was a supervisor for the Postal Service for 31 years. He worked at the Camden Carrier Annex on Mount Ephraim Avenue.
He married Wendy Herman in 1989. They raised two children in Edgewater Park.
He enjoyed spending time at the Jersey Shore. He will be remembered as a hardworking family man who was always busy with a home improvement project and who was proud of his children’s achievements.
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Jillian; his father, John; two sisters; and many nieces and nephews. His mother, Patricia Kilroy Bujanowski, died earlier. He was very close to his mother-in-law, Nancy Edgar, and fathers-in-law Brian Edgar and Bruce Herman.