SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball League (SPFBL) kicks off its 60th anniversary celebration on April 18 with an opening day "Booth Field Family Photo" that will include current ballplayers, coaches, board members, alumni, and Ken Booth, whose father was a founding member of the League. Ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. at Booth Field (corner of Westfield Road and Valley Avenue) in Scotch Plains.
“Young athletes learn more than just baseball. They learn teamwork and good sportsmanship,” said Neil Kaufman, current president of SPFBL. "What I believe is a great thing is that kids meet and become friends with kids who attend different schools. When they get to high school, they will already have established friendships with other students that might not otherwise meet."
Major changes have happened in the past several years. Two years ago, the league, which was formerly called the Scotch Plains Fanwood Youth Baseball Association, merged with Fanwood Youth Organization (FYO) to create one league in the two towns.
Registration this year is over 1,000 players. The league also has travel teams starting at the 7 and under level and continue through Middle School. Travel teams compete against competitive players from other towns.
The league was formed in 1955 as the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Little League by a group that included Herb Booth and Gene Di Cavalcante, who served as the first commissioner. During the first season, about 150 boys between the ages of 9 and 12 all played in one division, and tryouts were held for playing time. In subsequent years, the league welcomed girls, as well as players younger than nine and older than 12.
SPFBL now has Pre-K, Tee Ball, AA Minors (2nd grade) AAA Minors (3rd and 4th grades), Majors (5th and 6th grades) and Seniors (7th, 8th, and 9th grades) divisions. Booth Field is the league's home field. Games are also played on Scotch Plains and Fanwood town fields, Board of Education fields, and a County field on the north side of Route 22.
The property on which Booth Field is situated was once owned by the NJ Department of Transportation and later given to Scotch Plains. The township handed the title over to the league, which maintains the field, building, and grounds. The field is named for Herb Booth, a league founder whose served as a longtime volunteer until his death in 1973.
Ceremonial first pitches will be thrown by Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover. Ken Booth, Herb Booth's son, who played on the league's first championship team, will be on hand. Alumni of the program -- former players, managers, and coaches -- are invited to attend and to be part of a "Booth Field Family Photo."
For more information about the league, visit http://spfbaseballleague.org.