On the field, it's the best ballplayers in Monmouth County versus the best in Ocean County. Off the field but still among the stars, is a vision much more broad and valuable.

The 2018 County All-Stars Game has become a yearly tradition at the Jersey Shore featuring top tier talent on the field but there's something else they need...good character.

A dinner they were invited to last week featured messages 'County All-Stars' Event Founder Mike McGarrell wanted to bestow onto them with some special guest speakers, that while they may be great ballplayers, there's more important things in life than baseball.

"The game is secondary, it's a nice reward for these guys, it'll be competitive and they'll get after it but it's really about the message at the dinner," McGarrell said. "It's about community, it's about serving your community and doing something for someone else.

We're so self-absorbed...that combination of self-absorption and political correctness that permeates particularity our public schools and our communities...I think our public schools have been ruined and our communities are falling apart and I appeal to just the opposite."

He challenged the students last week to be the difference makers in the community to put things back together and do good for the community and make it real.

"They're the next generation, they're tomorrow's leaders, they have the power to change that and do more," McGarrell said.

His message to these and other ballplayers who aren't on the teams this year is to use their platform to make a positive change in the community.

"Hold yourself to a higher standard, do more...you can always do more," McGarrell said. "Get out of your little space and go do something for someone else...transform someone else's life and at the same time, you'll transform your own."

The ballplayers of today, at the high school, college and professional level have an obligation as members of society to use their platform for good and to set a good example for everyone else out there, especially all the little kids who look up to and idolize them as their hero's.

That's what McGarrell is also trying to get out to these ballplayers as well, by saying baseball is a humbling game full of failure and provides many lessons you can carry into the real world.

"Baseball is something that you do, it's not who you are, but it provides you a platform to experience a lot of things on the field that you're going to experience in life," McGarrell said.

One reason McGarrell wants to get this message of not taking life for granted and doing good stems from his own personal battles in life.

"I've had incurable cancer (multiple myeloma) for about 14-years now and I had a life expectancy of less than four-years," McGarrell said. "Cancer and the treatments have crushed me over and over and over again and for the most part, over the last...14-years, I have fought for my life every minute of everyday. I've had some pockets of great health, right now being one of them.

Life is going to knock everyone to their knees at some-point in time...you're going to get knocked to your knees, to whatever degree that happens, it's all relative...will you have the metal to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get through it?"

He says the way to do that is "strength of character in a lot of different ways."

As for the game, it'll be something you'll want to attend.

"These are the elite underclassmen in Monmouth and Ocean Counties," McGarrell said. "You've got the natural built in rivalry of the Shore, Monmouth and Ocean."

He says the Jersey Shore has a reputation for producing some top notch ballplayers.

"In my opinion, Shore Conference baseball is the best there is, at least in the state of New Jersey and I think pretty well down among the best nationally as well," McGarrell said. "They've just had great players throughout the years come out of both counties."

The 2018 County All-Stars Game takes place on Tuesday night at Toms River High School South with the first pitch scheduled for 7:00 pm.

For a look at the rosters for this year's game, head to the County All-Stars website.

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