The Lawrence Township Junior Baseball/Softball Association held Opening Day festivities for Lawrence Little League Baseball, Little League Softball and Babe Ruth Baseball on Saturday, April 14, at Central Park on Eggerts Crossing Road.
The morning featured a moving tribute to the late , a longtime girl's softball coach, followed by a ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Lawrence Little League All-Star Team.
The group of 11- and 12-year-olds won six straight games to capture the state District 12 and Section 3 titles. Their bid to play in the Little League World Series ended when they lost 1-0 in the New Jersey state semifinal game.
It remains the farthest any Lawrence Township team has ever advanced in Little League tournament play.
More than half of the 15 men who played on that team 50 years ago were on hand to be honored by the association and accept a proclamation from Mayor Jim Kownacki and members of Lawrence Township Council.
The proclamation from township council read:
WHEREAS, the Township Council of the Township of Lawrence, County of Mercer, recognizes outstanding endeavors and accomplishments; and
WHEREAS, young athletes have competed since 1947 for the chance to win the Little League World Series Championship; and
WHEREAS, in the summer of 1962, the great Jackie Robinson would be in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the Championship, President John F. Kennedy would proclaim National Little League Week and the Lawrence All-Stars were to have the most successful run in the history of the Lawrence Little League; and
WHEREAS, the team won four consecutive games and the District 12 Title defeating West Windsor (15-1), 611 (5-4), Ewing (5-1), West End (2-1), two more games and the Section 3 title, defeating Lakewood (4-2) and Union (11-9), and finally losing 1-0 to River Edge in the state semi-finals; and
WHEREAS, all 15 players hit, threw and fielded to contribute to the team’s success, including extra inning wins against Lakewood and Union;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED by the Township Council of the Township of Lawrence, County of Mercer, State of New Jersey, that in honor of the 50th Anniversary of their achievement, that it hereby recognizes and pays tribute to Chet Czaplicki, Sam D’Amico, Mike Drulis, Mickey Forker, Don (Red) Furman, Brad Greenberg, Tom Hewel, Rubin Joyner, Scott Kroesen, Tom Lyon, Al Macli, Hank Malsbury, Carl Nalbone, Ed Tobie and Daryl Torlay for the dedication, hard work and pride that they brought to Lawrence Township.
The following are the Opening Day remarks given by David R. Nevius:
Nearly 50 years ago, 15young men representing Lawrence Little League embarked on an incredible journey. They did what no other team in Lawrence Little League history had done before or has done since.
Beginning on July 19, 1962, they won six straight games, first winning the District 12 championship by winning games over West Windsor, 6-11, Ewing, and West End, and then the Section 3 championship with wins over Lakewood and Union.
Except for one home run in the State Semi-Final game by a player from River Edge that barely cleared the fence, and one “moon shot” by Mickey Forker that was called foul by inches, we might have seen our guys in Williamsport. (My Dad, Dave Nevius, always contended that the ball was fair!)
They’re all grown up now, and some are living in other parts of the country. But they all still share the memories of that incredible run and the bond that ties them together, forever, as teammates. Please take a look at the two poster boards with press clippings, photos and copies of the scorebook pages from the games that are on the table near the indoor facility.
Today, Lawrence Township and Lawrence Junior Baseball and Softball Association honor our 1962 Little League All-Star team, and applaud them for their accomplishment. I’m excited to introduce those members of the team that are here in person as well as those who are here in spirit.
First, those that couldn’t be here:
Tom Lyon, who played for Wenczel Tile, the team my Dad coached, who now lives in Seattle, Washington;
Hank Malsbury, who played for Park Lane Furniture, and lives in North Carolina;
Carl Nalbone, who played for Buxton’s Dairy, and is retired on a farm in Arkansas;
Brad Greenberg, who also played for Buxton’s, and lives in Denver;
Daryl Torlay, who made the team as an 11-year old and played for Buxton’s; and
Scott Kroesen, who played for Budny Tire, and now lives in Flower Mound, Texas. (Scott told me he was glad he played for Budny so he didn’t have to try to hit Chet Czaplicki’s wicked curve ball.)
And now, live and in person:
Tom Hewel, who played for Park Lane, and traveled here all the way from Denver;
Al Macli, who played for Elenewski Florist;
Mike Drulis, who played for Budny Tire, played center field and traveled here from Delaware;
Sam D’Amico, who played for Wenczel Tile, and caught all 7 games;
Chet Czaplicki, who played for Budny Tire and made the team as an 11-year old with an incredible curve ball, but whose play was limited by a broken finger;
Rubin Joyner, who played for Wenczel Tile, and pitched the final 1 2/3 innings and got the win in the dramatic win over Union in Section 3 play;
Ed Tobie, who played for Wenczel Tile, and whose dramatic 2-run homer in the 7th inning won the game against Union and propelled Lawrence into the state semi-final game;
Don (Red) Furman, who played for Wenczel Tile (that’s a total of five players from Wenczel!) and pitched in three of the games, striking out a total of 32 batters; and last but not least
Mickey Forker, who played for Buxton’s (where four of the players came from) and pitched in four of the games, striking out a total of 57 batters, 16 each in two of the games. (No pitch count rules in those days!)
Let’s give the guys a big round of applause and show them our appreciation.
Make sure you stop and look at the photo display of the 1962 team and talk with the players who made Lawrence Township history.