Initial Startup: Small Fry League

South Plainfield Small Fry Personnel at awards supper, 1955

Small Fry personnel—Coaches, managers and umpires of the South Plainfield Small Fry League line for cameramen at recent awards supper at Polish National Home. Front row, left to right: Tom Orlando, Peter Hemming, Joe Dallas, George Bassi, Carlton Jess, Ted Faryniak and Gene Poklitar. Rear: Joe Farrell, Dom Biondi, Fred Whelan, Ed Lind, Bob Gilbert and Frank Gangemi.

On February 27, 1955 an organizational meeting for the league was held at the VFW building. Spearheaded by Tom Orlando, Joe Farrell, and Gene Poklitar, and with 25 local men in attendance, committees were formed and registration for the kids was set for March 27, 1955 at Grant School. The fledgling organization named itself The Small Fry Baseball League and was structured as follows:

  • League Chairman: Joe Farrell
  • League Director: Tom Orlando
  • Rules Committee: George Goodrich, John Versocki, John Kaplan and Robert Gilbert
  • Insurance Committee: Steven Timko and Carlton Jess
  • Sponsor Committee (later called the Finance Committee): Eugene Poklitar, Edward Lind and Carlton Sohl
  • Scheduling Committee: Bill Anderson and Carlton Jess
  • Publicity: Eugene Poklitar and Joe Farrell
  • League Secretary: George Hemming
  • Umpire-In-Chief: James Polito

A list of first year umpires included (although it’s possible more were later added): W. Campbell, Wally Bowden. W. Cox, E. Wujceak, Bob MacAllister, Dale Henderson, A. Kriegsman, Phil Bogden, L Lind, Irving Kelloggs and Joe Farrell

Volunteering as Team Managers: Goodrich, Kaplan, Anderson, Gilbert and Orlando
Volunteering for Coaching duties: Thomas Burgoyne, Steven Timko, John Paslewsky, Willard Smith, Walter Hurst, Joseph Wrotney and Edward Lynn

South Plainfield Small Fry League registration card

South Plainfield Small Fry League registration card

Fields available were the Franklin Ave Playground and Park Ave Playground. A 6 team / 20 game format was decided upon. Both the fields and equipment were supplied by the South Plainfield Recreation Commission. The Commission got the ball rolling and played at least an advisory role for the first two years, although it’s unclear how and when that stopped. We’re fairly certain that the Recreation Commission always helped out with preparing the fields.


Mayor Apgar throws the first pitch on opening day, June 5, 1955


The 1955 opening day action is detailed in Joe Farrell’s “Small Fry Stuff” column

Next: 1955: The First Season