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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Our Towns Our Towns Our Towns Our Towns Our Towns Our 2nd Annual Edition Page 45


Specially Written for Our Towns

A meeting by a small group of men in the basement of Bill Egan’s home on Cray Terrace in t h e summer of 1942 became the birth of the r e c - reation program in Fanwood. In the

1942, Samuel Schwartz, a home building contractor, kindly cleared a wooded tract of land and leased

it for a dollar a year to the group. The residents, recognized as the Fanwood Recreation Association, rid the rocks, leveled

the ground, created the baseball diamond and erected a wooden grandstand originally for the kids. Later, the fathers formed the Old Men’s Softball League on the location which is now known as La Grande Park.

T h e Fanwood P l a y ground

officially opened in 1944. In the beginning, pickup games of softball were played and, after World War II, the veterans returned and began to join the group. With so much interest, the pickup softball games evolved into an organized league. In addition, the Borough of Fanwood purchased the playground for $14,000 and added tennis and basketball courts and a skating rink.

The softball association reached its peak in the mid- 1950’s. many families moved from Brooklyn and Queens and settled in Fanwood. The New York Yankees were seizing World Series t i t l e s after World Series t i t l e s under Casey Stengel a n d the Brooklyn Dodge r s under Walter

Alston and the New York Giants under Leo “the lip” Durocher were always trying to dethrone them. Eventually, eight teams were formed in Fanwood: Willoughby Road, Russell Road, Hunter Avenue, Shady Lane, Poplar Place, Marian Avenue, Sun Valley and Montrose Avenue.

The Fanwood Board of Recreation Commissioners was formed in 1965 and was comprised predominantly of members of the Fanwood Rec reation Association. During that time, Forest

Road Park was built on the site of an old swamp that was used as a skating pond in winter.

Along with the softball league, all aspects of recreation were flourishing in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

“I used to attend the summer programs at the park as a kid and used to be a councilor in my high school years. I would go down to the park every night and watch the games,” said former Fanwood Softball League Commissioner and umpire Bob Brelinsky.

“There were literally hundreds of kids getting involved in the recreation programs. Now days,

that number for whatever reason, has dwindled to

25 or 30,” added Brelinsky “I can remember, within

that program, we had an organized softball league of eight teams. Anyone who could put on a glove and swing a bat could play.”

Brelinsky took over the reins from former League President Bill Newell in 1995. “Before, they were called League Presidents and they were actual playing members of the league.” explained Brelinsky.

Brelinsky, who has fond memories of the league, became a member in 1971 when he was 21 years old. “Back then, you had to be either 21 or married to play. T h a t rule has since disappeared,” commented Brelinsky. “When I started playing, it was an older league. A lot of the original

members were still playing. It was very highquality play then. The teenagers just couldn’t wait to be old enough to play in the league.”

The demand for use of the two Fanwood fields, La Grande and Forest Road Park, has always been great. Presently, in addition to recreation programs, the parks are being used by the Scotch Plains- Fanwood Public Schools for some of their middle school and high school athletic programs.

Fanwood Recreational Facilities Information

Should anyone desire to find more information about enrolling their children in the various recreational programs, please call (908) 322- 0208.

Fanwood History Information Wanted:

Anyone who has credible information, pictures, etc. of the early days of the organizations, leagues, activities, etc. which occurred at the various fields and parks of Fanwood, please contact Dave Corbin of The Times at (908) 232- 4407. Pictures, articles, etc. will be scanned and returned.

Shady Lane Prevails; Survive Hunters, 10- 9


Specially Written for Our Towns

Counting on the deceptive pitching style of newcomer Neil Kamler, the Shady Lane boys held off a late surge by the Hunter Avenue predators to come up with a 10- 9 victory in Fanwood Old Men’s Softball Association action at La Grande Park in Fanwood on June 16. Shady slugger Sean Kelly clob- bered a grand slam home run which touched off an eight- run explosion in the fourth inning.

The Shady Laners also got a superb defensive effort from t h i r d baseman Doug H e i n t z w h o snagged e v e r y thing

which came his way. Heintz was involved in eight smooth fielding plays which included a slick double play, a great backhand stab, a fine catch of a foul ball and a tag to nail a runner attempting to steal third.

In the bottom of the third, Heintz made a fabulous backhand stab of a steaming grounder off the bat of Al Manzi and tossed the ball to first for the out. Then, Shady Lane returned to the plate in the fourth to touch off its big, eight- run inning.

The Hunters closed in and narrowed the score to 10- 9 in the sixth. Wein poked a single to center, Rossy bopped an RBI single past short and Kevin Ewing laid down another bunt single.

Frank Cuccaro knocked an RBI single to left and Manzi mashed an RBI single up- the- middle.

After Shady Lane failed to score in the seventh, Kamler, the pitcher, raised his eyebrows and jokingly commented, “Gee! I guess there is no pressure here.”.....

Shady Lane 100 801 0 10 Hunter 100 053 0 9

FOMSA Standings: (As of June 16)

TEAM W L Pct. Russell Rd 7 2 1 .778 Sun Valley 4 2 1 .667 Willoughby 6 3 1 .667 Hunter 4 4 0 .500 Marion 3 4 1 .429 Shady Lane 3 5 0 .375 Montrose 2 5 0 .286 Poplar 2 6 0 .250

(Results from June 9 to June 16) Hunter 11, Sun Valley 4 Willoughby 13, Montrose 11 Sun Valley 14, Poplar 5 Russell Road 9, Montrose 3 Willoughby 9, Marian 3

Marian Avenue Fells Poplar Place, 2- 1


Specially Written for Our Towns

Fantastic defense prevailed at La Grande Park in Fanwood when the Marian Avenue team squeaked out a 2- 1 victory over the Poplar Place squad in Fanwood Old Men’s Softball Assoc i a - tion action on June 8. The

Marian men pulled off three double plays and

both teams added several outstanding fielding plays.

Needless to say, the pitching p e r - f o r mances were also outstanding. Manny Perez pitched six innings, allowing just f i v e hits and three walks while striking out two for Marian before being relieved by ace Pete Lima, who slammed the door in the seventh, allowing only one single.

Poplar pitcher Bill Newell was untouchable in the first three innings as he retired the first nine Marian batters. Despite pulling a muscle in his back, Newell continued with a fine performance and finished allowing only three hits, one which was a perfect bunt, and one intentional

walk while recording one strikeout. It appeared that the game may have been an

offensive battle w h e n

Mike K e l l y of Poplar led off with a single to r i g h tf i e l d and Kevin Newell followed with a base- on- balls. With runners on first and second, the threat was doused when Dasti scooped a grounder, tagged s e c o n d and fired to first for a double

play. Then t h e threat was extinguished when Perez

grabbed a grounder and threw the runner out heading to first.....

Poplar Place 000 001 0 1 Marian Avenue 000 110 x 2

Scotch Plains downs Fanwood In All- Star game

SCOTCH PLAINS - Paul Stizza’s three- run homer and |Dennis Pedicini’s 15th mound victory powered the Scotch Plains All- Stars past the Fanwood All- Stars in a recreation softball game 7- 1 yesterday.

The winners scored five runs |in the fifth inning on hits by Ken Booth, Rod Spencer, |Pedicini and Stizza’s blast off loser Pete Marini, 31- 4. Art Coon was voted the Most Valuable Player by getting three hits and playing an outstanding defensive game for Scotch Plains.

Fanwood Recreation Spans More Than Half a Century Remember When?
Copyright 1999 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)