An Early False Start (1953–1954)

On the organized youth baseball front, the first seeds were planted in 1953 when the Rotary Club tried to start a Little League program. Little League Baseball Inc. was a national organization begun in Williamsport, PA, in the late 30s, and was very structured in its rules and regulations. It had strict requirements for entry as well as a fee to gain a charter.

1954 Borough Park Playground Champs, South Plainfield, New Jersey

Champs of the Playground League is the Borough Park team pictured above. Front row: Mario Perrucci, Angelo Perrucci, George Calentano, Bill Delayo. Second row: Dick Oldis, Paul Phillips, Ronnie Kuboski, Ron Witteman and Frank Eaustice. Back row: Paul Sikanowicz, Raymond Locke, and Campbell Platt, who is playground supervisor.

It appears the Rotary Club got off to a late start in 1953, and it may be that part of their struggle was dealing with Little League Baseball’s requirements for entry. In any case, the Rotary Club scheduled registration for boys aged 9 to 12 to stock four teams in July of 1953. When a Little League charter could not be obtained for 1953, the baseball teams were folded into the Recreation Commission’s summer playground program, with a goal to start up the following year. Because a Little League startup never happened in 1953 or 1954, the summer playground league was the only game in town for the younger boys.

My research has not turned up very much about this first attempt to start Little League baseball in South Plainfield. Although too late to get a charter from the national Little League organization in 1953, it seems that the Rotary Club may have been accepted into the organization for 1954 and scheduled a May start. Problems continued to plague the Rotary Club project however, the main one being that a baseball field could not be secured, and the league never got off the ground.

Things would all change the following year in 1955, though.

Next: Joe Farrell’s Role