South Plainfield Small Fry History

Borough Park junior baseball field, South Plainfield, NJ

Borough Park ballfield, 2013

The South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club program has been providing an opportunity for local kids to play organized baseball for close to 60 years now. This is the story of how it all started back in the 1950s.

Right after World War II, South Plainfield was growing fast, and parents were interested in providing recreation for their baby boom kids of that era. In the early 50s, South Plainfield had no high school (North Plainfield High took most of the South Plainfield students) and no organized youth baseball program. Adult softball was played in town, and a few baseball teams existed for older boys. The VFW fielded a team in an area league, and The Sacred Heart Holy Name Society sponsored a team in a league with other area church teams. In the schools, the junior high fielded a team.

Franklin Playground bus trip to Mt. Kemble Pool

Buses used to transport Borough youngsters to Mt. Kemble Pool for the weekly swimming excursion. At the extreme right with back to camera is Miss Louise Zappela, Supervisor at Franklin Playground. At entrance to first bus is Ernest Gardner, Recreation Director. A total of 192 children were taken on this particular trip, the second of the series.

The South Plainfield Recreation Commission provided summer playground programs back then, and participation in these programs grew quickly. In 1953 around 800 and by 1954 over 1000 kids were registered and the recreation commission pushed to get more playgrounds for the kids. in 1954 some of the summer program playgrounds were located at Roosevelt, Willis, and Sacred Heart schools (Sacred Heart School had just opened in September, 1953), Borough Park off Mill St. and Franklin Field on the corner of Grant and Franklin avenues. Inclusive of boys and girls, the summer program was not totally baseball-centric, providing arts and crafts, games, trips (swimming, major league ballgames etc.), watermelon eating contests and similar activities.

Next: An Early False Start (1953–1954)