1956 Eagles Softball Team (l-r) Front row: Jack Donahoe, Ano
Delpercio, John Cece, Raymond Kane. Rear row: Bill Therkildsen,
Joe Pierry, John Harden, Archie Mason, Tom Kennedy, Martin Bender.
Photo by Spiess Photography.
The 2007 Season Opener softball game between The Sportsmen
and New Balance Teams began on a rainy Tuesday, 8:30 p.m., April
17th at Depken Field. The opening game was scheduled for Monday,
but the week-end’s Nor’easter made the field unplayable.
HH Men’s Softball League --
50 Years of Hits
On May 14, 1956, Dwight Eisenhower was campaigning to secure
his second term in office, the New York Yankees, who were still
smarting from their 1955 World Series loss to the “Bums”
from Brooklyn, were yet to realize the perfection of Don Larsen
in the upcoming fall classic, the new sound of Elvis Presley
was driving young people to a frenzy, Dick Tort was still in
high school, and Jack Lagatutta, behind home runs from Harry
Carty and Charlie Roth, pitched the Pioneer Club past the Fire
Department in the inaugural game of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s
Later that summer, the Farmers, sparked by deciding game home
runs by Mike Grimes and Jim Mason, clinched the first ever league
championship by defeating the Neighbors.
This past season marked the fiftieth anniversary of our local
league. The history of the league has been marked by many outstanding
players and personalities.
Over the past fifty years, several fine teams have participated
such as the Farmers, Eagles, Pioneer Club, Club 80, old Crow’s
Nest and the past and present Lovey’s squads.
The league was organized during the summer and fall of 1955
through a series of meetings conducted at the Pioneer Club and
attended by the likes of Mike Syll, Ed Mantel, Carl Therkildsen
Jr., Frank Brumaghin, Jack Loomis, Archie Mason, Fred Griesinger
and Tony Corino, among others.
These men employed all their wisdom to compile league by-laws,
which, like our nation’s Constitution, live on today with
An “Observer” article, at the time, reported that
the league would “improve the already ample supply of
entertainment and good fellowship among the citizens of Hasbrouck
Heights” and “provide the people of Hasbrouck Heights
with wholesome evening entertainment that wouldn’t dent
their pocket books.”
There had previously been a softball league in town which ran
for 14 years and other organized softball games with teams from
out of town. Most of those games were played at twilight. The
current league’s format marked the first time that a Hasbrouck
Heights league regularly scheduled night games. Evening games
insured no scheduling conflicts with the town’s young
people who used the field earlier in the day and provided an
accommodation to those players whose “day jobs”
didn’t bring them back to town until after 6 p.m.
Various inquiries have led to the conclusion that our town’s
league is the oldest organized softball league in the North
Jersey area, if not beyond. In fact, the “MODIFIED MONITOR,”
a statewide softball newsletter, identified our league as the
oldest known to them.
This is remarkable in that with a few exceptions, player eligibility
has been and continues to be limited to those who live or once
lived in our fair borough. Also significant, is that at least
four leagues in neighboring towns that allow unlimited rosters,
have folded while ours has continued.
It is a tribute to our community, to those dedicated volunteers
who governed the league through the past five decades and to
our Board of Education (whose cooperation makes the whole program
possible), that our league has set a standard for longevity.
Today the league is as vibrant as ever with Lovey’s continuing
their nine year reign as champs by defeating the Sportsmen in
the 1996 championship series. The governing board consists of
Thomas Mason Jr., Dick Tort and Dennis O’Connor.
Decade by Decade Review
First Decade --
The first decade of league play was dominated, in large part,
by the Farmers and the Eagles who, more often than not, finished
first or second.
The historical committee has confirmed that the Farmers won
not only the first championship, in 1956, but won again in
1958, 1962 and 1963 and finished second to the Eagles in 1957
and 1966 and to the Bombers in 1961.
The Farmers, who were formed from the nucleus of a hardball
club, repeatedly finished amongst the top two teams during
the leagues first fifteen years and, in fact, were usually
among the top four teams right through the early nineties
when their franchise temporarily discontinued play. Other
teams active during the embryonic stages of our organization
included the Jesters, Pioneer Club, Swim Club, V.F.W., Fire
Department and the first Sportsman franchise.
Second Decade –
This period was marked by some very good Pioneer Club teams,
whom it was confirmed won the championship in 1971 and 1972,
the Wood-Ridge National Bank team, the 1970 champions (the
Wood-Ridge National Bank team was the forerunner of the present
day “Boys” squad) and Club 80. Club 80 emerged
in the early seventies as a dynasty. Research has lead to
the conclusion that the Club 80 team won the regular season
championship in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and
One of highlights of this period took place on August 21,
1971 when a Hasbrouck Heights Softball League all star team
challenged a four man team led by the “world’s
greatest pitcher” Eddie Feigner in a contest witnessed
by over 2,000 fans at the Athletic Field. The “King
of his Court”, as Feigner’s team was knows, bested
the Aviator all stars by a score of 7-2.
Third Decade –
This period saw the continued dominance of Club 80 and the
rise of the Boys as Club 80’s chief rivals. Although
the Boys did emerge as a consistent championship contender,
it was the old Lovey’s team that brought the “changing
of the guard”. In 1984 and 1985, that Lovey’s
team, which was made up of players who graduated high school
in the late seventies, took over as reigning champions having
defeated Manny’s and Mike’s Vagabond (Boys) two
games out of three in respective championship series.
Other teams of note during this period included P. Chimento’s,
Sal’s Exxon (later Reggie’s and the Wood-Ridge
Inn), Michael Liquor’s (later Main Auto Supply and now
the Wood-Ridge Inn), AFCO Cycle, Pioneer Club (later Samson
Caterers and now the Sportsmen) and, of course, the Farmers
who won the playoff championship in 1978. The players of P.
Chimento’s were, probably, the only ones to actually
enjoy themselves during this decade.
The third decade is also remembered as a tumultuous one from
the stand point of governing the league. In reaction to what
was perceived as abuses of the “best interests of the
game’, residency requirements, free agency filing requirements
and outside umpires became realities. These problems culminated
in a black cloud which was cast over the league in 1986 as
for the first time the playoffs were not concluded and a playoff
champion was not crowned on the field. The 1986 championship
series, which pitted the Boys against Loveys, stalled after
one game over scheduling conflicts and inclement weather.
Despite the league commissioner’s best efforts and the
threat of judicial intervention, these hurdles could not be
overcome and the two teams could not be brought together to
complete the series. It was not until many months after the
season that the Boys were declared champions by forfeit.
Fourth Decade –
In 1987, Villagio’s, a/k/a “Asia”, vaulted
to the pedestal of champions. The Villagio’s team was
made up from the nucleus of the old Loveys team and free agents
who had departed the Boys and Samson Caters franchises. This
team would be the last team to win the championship that wore
other than red and white uniforms.
1988 to 1996, the Boys, (now also known as Lovey’s)
have defeated all comers in the championship series. The old
Wood-Ridge Inn (led by Mark Little) and Main Auto Supply (now
the Wood-Ridge Inn and led by Marv Levy—strike that—John
(Corbliss) together challenged the Boys and fell short on
seven occasions. More recently, the Winners Circle and the
Sportsmen were unable to wrestle the title from the perennial
participating teams during this period included Pioneer Club,
Carpenters, Juniors a/k/a Orioles, Nuziale Chiropractic and
a combined Police and Fire Department team know as “Guns
Fifth Decade –
The standard of excellence that the Lovey’s (Boys) softball
club had established in the late eighties and most of the
nineties withstood worthy challenges exerted by several fine
squads. However, it was not until 1998 that their ten year
reign as champions came to an abrupt halt. In the first round
of the playoffs that year the Wood-Ridge Inn team, lead by
John Corbliss, sent the Boys home for Thanksgiving without
a championship trophy for the first time since 1988. The historic
accomplishment of Corbliss’ team was followed by them
coming up short to the Crow’s Nest in the 1998 championship
series. The Crow’s Nest lead by Dennis Dinallo, Jr.,
would again be crowned champions in 2000. Dinallo’s
squad was initially assembled in 1995 and brought together
top talent from various other already existing teams. The
sole purpose of forming this conglomeration was to unseat
the Boys and they soon became nicknamed the “Dream Team”.
Although Corbliss beat them to the punch, the two championships
won by the “Dream Team” would be the only ones
not won by the Boys from 1988 through 2002.
and 2004 seasons saw the M&M Sportsmen, led by Tommy Mason,
claim back to back championships. A new generation of Boys
emerged in 2005 and 2006, also, winning back to back championships.
Last year’s deciding championship series game was punctuated
by a walk off, grand slam home run belted by Boys’ veteran
Patrick “Snake” Mason.
the long tradition of spirited competition among the local
lads of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Softball League
lives on. In many cases, young men continue rivalries established
three generations ago by their grandfathers.
note: Champions could not be confirmed for each year due to
a lack of published information. Our apologies to any champions
whose particular championship was not referenced the foregoing
thanks to the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education who generosity
and cooperation have allowed the use of the Athletic Field
facility without which the resiliency of the league may not
have been accomplished. ###
This story is adapted from the Hasbrouck Height’s Men’s
Softball Leagues 40th Anniversary Celebration program, which
was presented during a Beefsteak Dinner held Saturday, February
22, 1997 at the Pioneer Club. It was noted the Champion could
not be confirmed for each year due to a lack of published
information. Apologies to any Champions whose particular championship
was not referenced in the foregoing article. ###
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