SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD-WESTFIELD, NJ -- Although the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders and Westfield Blue Devils are fierce rivals at most sporting events, the two local little leagues have combined to put together a Fall Ball program that has proven to be more popular than anticipated.
The two leagues put together a summer Beach League that enabled non-travel players to continue to play baseball during June and July. The organizations partnered again to offer a Fall Ball program for players in grades 2 through 10. Games are played at Brookside Park in Scotch Plains and Gumpert Field in Westfield.
"We have over 300 registrants, which is much higher than we ever expected," said Jay Berger, who spearheaded the program for Westfield.
"As kids get older, there are fewer opportunities for non-travel players," said Chris Bates, SPFBL travel director. "Based on the turnout, we seem to have identified a need in the marketplace. This Fall Ball program enables kids all the way up to high school to continue playing. Our goal is to keep kids playing baseball as long as we can."
The young players are enjoying playing while wearing the colors of now defunct teams, including the old Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, and Louisville Grays, a charter member of the National League that played its last game in 1877.
"The shirts are really cool," said Aidan Mooney, who started the game for the 5th/6th grade Louisville Grays.