Welcome 2024 in The Conshohocken’sJanuary 18, 2024
History of our Street Names including Fayette StreetJanuary 29, 2024
Conshohocken Baseball & Softball 2024
by Brian Coll (with previous research and history by Jack Coll)
I still have to catch myself…. I start to simply say Little League, but that isn’t the case anymore. Conshohocken is home to the Conshohocken Baseball & Softball League.
So, why do I have to catch myself you might be asking? Well, I played here in Conshohocken at Sutcliffe Park from t-ball to the majors and then some jr. Babe Ruth ball. At the time, it was simply little league.
Some things have changed and some things have not. One thing the kids have these days that I didn’t have was actual baseball pants from a young age! You look back at team photos from t-ball in the 80’s and half the kids were wearing jeans with holes everywhere and it wasn’t a fashion statement! Something that hasn’t changed is a bunch of great volunteer coaches, board members and team parents. One thing that has changed is the t-ball level. My little guy started playing in 2020, it was a shortened year and the season started late. In 2020 we played old fashioned t-ball. In 2021 the Conshohocken Baseball & Softball League switched affiliations and quick ball came along. For those of you who have little ones and are considering quick ball, it is a fun, high energy, learning experience for boys and girls. I was lucky enough to coach at this level for two years and loved just about every minute of it. It’s part practice, part game every day.
In 2024, The Conshohocken Baseball & Softball League looks to have a great season with new and returning players according to early registration reports. We know the league is heading in the right direction. President Scott English has been doing a great job along with an active board. As they like to say, I’m in the thick of it with my kids ages. I’ve noticed the board including President Scott English, Vice President Tom Montemayor, as well as Jennifer Nelson, Kevin Crawford, Don Wanner, Mike Cefaratti take on a lot of responsibilities, a lot of underappreciated work. I’ve seen some parents with younger kids in the program get involved like Phil Doherty, Tom Vlahos and Jennie Stokley. This off season I noticed Jay Catania working on some of the fields. After the 2023 season wrapped up, the folks at the VFW welcomed the Baseball and Softball League there to have a fundraiser to help keep the league moving in the right direction (thank you) There are a lot of great coaches, for both baseball and softball. I hope kids playing today will fondly remember coaches like Ed Enoch the way players in other generations looked at their good coaches. I look forward to what this season holds, for my little guy and for the league overall. Before we look at some history, if you have a child that you think would like to give quick ball, baseball or softball a shot, this is a great year to sign them up. The league is also looking for coaches, and sponsors. We hope the future is looking up, lets look at the history of the league.
This next part is from an article Jack Coll wrote in 2014, thank you Jack, not only for sharing this history with us, but getting me involved 40 some years ago in Conshy Little League and instilling some fundamentals in me, that I try to teach the kids I’m helping coach today.
Conshohocken Little League was founded in 1955 by a couple of guys sitting around the Conshohocken Bocce Club one cold February night. Emidio Cardamone came up with the idea along with Francis Carr, the league’s first president, Joseph Connelly, Ange Damico and a number of other concerned citizens. For the first four years games were played at Rossi Memorial Field located on West Third Avenue behind the CBC Club. The league started with 48 players, 12 players per team with a four team loop. By 1958 more than 300 boys attended league tryouts, by 1959 the league not only moved their playing field to Sutcliffe Park but increased the amount of teams to six.
Over the next five decades volunteers like Lou Capelli, Bob Wesley, John Cassinelli, Joe Kelly, Frank Burton, Ray Gravinese, Charles Jeffries, Jimmy Kelly and Tony Santoni helped mold and shape Conshohocken Little League into a first class, well respected, league throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Let’s not forget about Art “Tuti” Andrey who managed the early Tee Ball programs making Conshohocken’s Tee Ball program one of the best in District 22. Let’s not forget about guys like Fred DeStolfo, Tom Zadroga, Mike Borzelleca, Bob O’Neill, and many others. In the early 1970’s when the league fell on hard times and couldn’t even afford to pay the umpires Bob Yahner stepped up and with a little help saved the little league program.
Through it all over the past 58 (now 68) years Conshohocken Little League has provided a safe haven for the borough’s youngsters. Little League has provided quality coaches who have helped mentor our children helping to mold them into quality young adults. For nearly six decades the call of “Play Ball” has filled the spring air, and a crush of youngster and parents would flock to the little league fields. For the most part the fields at Sutcliffe Park were built by volunteers, not the borough, the two original concession stands were built by volunteers, the coaches, the field gang, the volunteers raking the fields in the dark before opening day, they know who they are. All this volunteerism in a community bands together neighbors and residents, giving them a lifelong bond. Working in the concession stand introduces neighbors to other neighbors.
Conshohocken Little League is so much more than kids swinging a bat, it’s so much more than a coach in the dugout yelling “Lay off the high ones,” and it really is so much more than a mother or father standing at the edge of the fence when their child comes up to bat.
A good little league is about residents, and neighbors, and coaches and community coming together for one common cause, the development of a group of Conshohocken children.
I know all this because I put more than a decade into Little League, coaching and managing, and umpiring, and building concession stands and fields. And when I see a kid that I coached, and I showed faith in, and encouraged them to succeed, when they see me today, with their kids in tow and can’t wait to tell me all about their family, and their job, and how their kids are playing little league ball. I smile, cause I know I had something to do with their success. I don’t have to say it, and the person I’m talking to doesn’t have to say it, but we know, we all know, every young adult out there today for more than half a century who has ever played little league knows, they remember their coach, they remember the success they experienced in Little League.
Thirty years ago when Robert Frost was president of the Conshohocken Little League, (1993-1996) well over 450 children were enrolled to play in the Conshohocken Little League program.
THIS NEXT PART WAS WRITTEN WHEN PLAYERS COULD START TO PLAY WITH ANY LEAGUE WITHIN THEIR SCHOOL DISTRICT, AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE WHAT OUR BASEBALL & SOFTBALL PROGRAM MEANS TO OUR COMMUNITY. WRITTEN 10 YEARS AGO.
By the year 2015, it’s possible that Conshohocken will not field a little league program, Hey, it’s a little thing, it’s Conshohocken losing yet another piece of its identification. After all when Conshohocken High School closed in 1966, it was just a small piece of the town, and when Alan Wood Steel closed in 1977, hey no big deal, it was just a small thing, another little loss. When the downtown stores boarded their windows and sent the borough shoppers elsewhere, hey those stores were only there for a hundred years, to the residents who depended on those stores for a living, hey it really wasn’t that big of a blow.
But then we closed St. Matthew’s/Archbishop Kennedy High School, St. Mary’s and SS Cosmas Elementary Schools. Don’t you worry about it, we’re simply merging schools, Conshohocken Catholic said goodbye in 2012. I expect that within the next two years, at least two Catholic Churches will say goodbye and hey Calvary Church has already been sold.
At times it seems like the annual Soap Box Derby is on shaky ground with a shortage of drivers from year to year and we really have to sweat out whether fireworks will be in the budget or not from year to year. And now Conshohocken Little League is on the block. Big shots in Williamsport can justify this move by smoothing it over with “it’s for the kids”, would anybody expect any other kind of a statement?
Conshohocken has lost their identity piece by piece over the last half of a century, but Conshohocken residents should not despair, we have buildings, we have lots of buildings with more to come. We have big buildings, small buildings, buildings built to dress up our town, they are building them for us.
When young families visit a community with aspirations of buying a house, they want to know about the town’s school system. We barley have one, Conshohocken Elementary is educating children up until the third grade before we ship them out of town. How about little league baseball,? Well we don’t have one of them but you can ship your child off to a neighboring community where your kid can sit on the bench behind all the superstars and celebrate all their victories.
One borough official was heard mumbling under his breath when the little league is done we can put some high rises on the fields at Sutcliffe Park, we need more buildings. Does that sound funny to you?
You need to read the above paragraphs again, putting high rises on the little league fields sounds as silly as Hale Pumps leaving town. That sounds as silly as C&D Batteries leaving town, Walker Brothers, John Woods, Lee Tires, Ford & Kending, Conshy High, St. Matt’s, do I have to go on?
If you ever thought of doing something for your community, if you have a child of Little League age, you can start by signing him or her up to play Conshohocken Little League baseball this spring, if you want to help your community that would be a good start.
WE KNOW THIS ARTICLE HAS JUMPED OVER THE PLACE, BETWEEN NOW, EVENTS TAKING PLACE 10 YEARS AGO AND SO ON… THIS NEXT PART IS FOR TODAY…
I (Brian) just reread everything Jack had to say 10 years ago, 10 years ago, I didn’t know if my newborn would be interested in playing ball, a couple years later I had my little guy all signed up. In addition to the confidence that playing sports has given him, it has given our family a number of new friendships. There are a lot of really good families involved in The Conshohocken Baseball & Softball League. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Make this year the year you sign your child up, or offer to coach, work the snack stand, offer to bring drinks to the field for the kids after the game. If you’re reading this and have a business that can be a sponsor, reach out! The league would love to have you all. Have a great day and let’s hope for a great 2024 season!