Funding the League

South Plainfield Small Fry League Booster Sticker

South Plainfield Small Fry League Booster Sticker

Money is always needed, and as with any program of this type, the parents helped foot the bill with fees. Sponsors kicked in with a contribution for uniforms and equipment, and the club held fundraisers. One interesting fundraiser that was used for Small Fry baseball in 1955 (and subsequent years) was the sale of booster stickers. Uniformed players would go door to door all through town and stand outside retail establishments selling boosters. I guess it’s hard to turn down a little kid wearing a baseball uniform.

South Plainfield Small Fry League Booster Drive, 1955

Peter Hemming Jr. of South Plainfield presents Henry Apgar, mayor of South Plainfield, with the first booster membership in raising funds to sponsor a Small Fry baseball league. The boosters are (left to right) Joseph Farrell, Thomas Orlando, Carlton Sohl, Peter, the mayor, Eugene Poklitar and George Hemming, the boy’s father.

The kids would pass the hat at the games, and coins were collected with counter-top cans located at businesses throughout town. We were lucky enough to run across a printed list of amounts collected for one of these fundraisers, and thought we would list the local businesses (and amount collected) as an exercise in South Plainfield nostalgia. I’m not sure if these totals were for a day, a week or a month! This was most likely 1956. I won’t speculate why Doc and Tim’s led this particular period. I can say though that it was a short walk from our house on Reiffel St (and as many know, later became TJ’s Hideaway).

Business donations to South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club

Local business donations, ca 1956

The club would be dealt a setback of sorts in 1957 when The South Plainfield Borough Council pulled their $500.00 equipment appropriation from the municipal budget. The reasoning was that the organization was no longer a part of the Recreation Commission and as such it would set a bad precedent to help fund a private organization. Although the club protested, support from the municipality ended. The club survived though. One other popular event used to raise money in the early years was the Pre-Season Dance held at the Polish National Home.

Voting for 1960 Miss Junior Baseball, South Plainfield NJ

Members of the South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club ponder for whom to vote in the “Miss Junior Baseball” contest now underway. The boys, voting in the Capital Shop-Rite, are Gene Malpas, John Hopler and Edward Phillips. Voting is accomplished by dropping pennies into slots under the six candidates’ pictures, with each penny constituting one vote. Three weeks remain in which residents may cast “their pennies” for their favorite.

Theresa Costantini, 1960 Miss Junior Baseball, South Plainfield NJ

Theresa Costantini, the 1960 Miss Junior Baseball, is flanked by runners-up in the recent contest sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Junior Baseball Club. Theresa received a trophy and other prizes at the opening day ceremonies, while the other girls also received awards. Left to right are Mary Ann Padula, Linda Fregans, Theresa Costantini, Patricia Dellavalle, and Catherine Miller. Absent when the picture was taken was Christine Moore.

The South Plainfield Junior Athletic Club Women’s Auxiliary was started in early 1960.  Their first major fundraiser was the Miss Junior Baseball 1960 contest. This contest ran annually for at least a few years and had six contestants. The winner was “elected” through the use of voting boxes placed throughout the town’s retail stores. Voting was done by putting a penny in the candidate’s voting canister. In the 1961 election it was reported that a total of over 1700 votes were cast, with all proceeds going to Junior Baseball. The initial winner was Theresa Costantini.  She was proudly crowned during opening day ceremonies on May 15, 1960.

A final name change to The South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club followed, and that’s where it stayed. I don’t have any specifics on the current day organization, although I believe it’s registered as a non-profit.

In the end it pleases us to be able to get the names out there of the South Plainfield men who were there at the beginning. Junior Baseball has contributed a lot to the town over the past 50 plus years and they got it all started in 1955. If anyone has photos, memories or information to share about the first few seasons or so, let us know!! We’d be happy to add to the story! Please send us a message using our Contact Form.