Brookline Little League Association
In The Beginning - 1951/1952

The Brookline Business Men's Association Little League, later known as the Brookline Chamber of Commerce Little League Association, and finally the Brookline Little League Association, was formed in 1951. A group of local Brookline baseball enthusiasts, led by John Pascarosa, met with representatives of the Brentwood Little League Association to get the necessary details to charter a new league, for children nine to twelve years of age in the Brookline community, with the national Williamsport Little League organization.

With help from the officers of the Brentwood league, who themselves had joined the Williamsport association the previous year, B.B.M.A. committee members Pascarosa, Morris Grumet, Eugene Means and Len Rauch were able to gather the knowledge necessary to make a charter application as an official Little League organization.

The birth of
 Brookline Little League - 1951.
Committee members of the Brookline Business Mens Association discuss the formation of a
Little League organization for the children of the community in the summer of 1951.
Pictured are, left to right, John Pascarosa, Eugene Means, W.J. Coleman
(president of the Brentwood Little League), and Morris Grumet.
Missing from photo is Len Rauch.

The administration of the league would be in the hands of the B.B.M.A., which had unofficially sponsored a Little League-type instructional program at Moore Park during the summer of 1951, and also fielded a Pony team, under the sponsorship of DeBor Funeral Home, in the Southwest Pittsburgh Pony League.

The Brookline Little League was to consist of four teams, each with fifteen members, and coached by local members of the community with baseball knowledge and experience in handling children. The teams were to consist of fifteen 9 to 12 year-old boys with no more than five 12 year-olds per team and no less than three 10 year-olds. Each team would have a local sponsor and be provided with a uniform and the necessary baseball equipment needed, with the exception of a glove and shoes.

All Little League games were to be played at the newly completed Community Center Field, which at that time was not much more than a large, open dirt field without fences or dugouts. Bleachers were built before opening day and a three-sided, open-top backstop was installed. Further field improvements would come later.

Picture of Community Center Field - 1952
The Community Center Field as it looked in the spring of 1952. Improvements were forthcoming,
but for now this was the home of the fledgling Brookline Little League.

By January of 1952, the league's charter application had been accepted by Williamsport state officials and preparations for the inaugural season went into high gear. The league officers elected for that first official Little League season were Morris Grumet, president; J.J. McGaffin, vice-president; John Pascarosa, secretary; Eugene Means, treasurer; Charley Watterson, player agent; Jack Ashworth, field representative; Dave Frick, head umpire.

To increase awareness among the "small fry" of the community, films about Little League baseball were distributed to the local schools to be shown to all eligible Little League-aged children. Many of the local high school students, unable to participate because of age limitations but willing to help in any way possible, launched a mail campaign, soliciting donations of $1 from each resident of Brookline to help defray the startup costs of the new league.

By February of 1952, sponsors and managers were located for each of the four teams (Ebenshire Village, Kiwanis Club, American Legion Post #540 and Community Center), and many local citizens had volunteered their time to help with the wide range of other duties associated with running a youth baseball program, like umpiring, field preparation, maintaining the equipment, and so forth. In addition, donations in response to the mail campaign were starting to pour in, many of them far exceeding the requested one dollar.

Picture of
 Officers and league representatives - 1952
Committee members and team representatives of the newly formed Brookline Businessmen's Association Little League gather to make preparations for the 1952 spring season. Pictured are, first row, Morris Grumet, committee member; Ed Voith, Brookline Community Center sponsor; Joe Marsico, Brookline Kiwanis Club team sponsor; Cliff Watterson, player agent; Harry Smith, Ebenshire Village team sponsor and John Pascarosa, committee member. In the second row are Gilbert Aubenque, publicist; Eugene Means, committee member; Jack Mealing, official scorer; Henry Hofbauer, Kiwanis Club manager; Joe Powers, American Legion manager; Francis Wertz, Ebenshire Village manager and Leo Kelly, legal advisor. Missing from photo are Jack Ashworth, field representative; George Sayenga, American Legion team sponsor; Joe Reib, Community Center manager and Len Rauch, committee member.

Now it was time for sign-ups, which in that first season were done through the mail. Applications were available at the local schools, Grumet's Market and the Kiddie Shop on Brookline Boulevard. Try-outs for positions on the four teams were held in early April. Teams were chosen soon afterwards, and the eagerly anticipated opening day, which featured a large parade down Brookline Boulevard, was scheduled for May 27th, 1952.

1952 Little League Parade

Apprehension within the community was at an all-time high. Today, a half century later, we kind of take it for granted that baseball season has arrived. Sure, the fever catches on with the first signs of spring, but back in 1952 the Brookline community was teetering on the edge of something new and exciting. The local population could feel the tension in the air. The Brookline Journal ran an entire edition in early May with notes, editorials and advertisements trumpeting the start of Brookline Little League baseball. Directions were printed telling everyone just where the Community Center Field was located and the entire community was invited to come watch their "small fry" take part in America's national pasttime.

Directions to Community Center
Directions to the Community Center Field were printed in the Brookline Journal

Everything was ready for the umpire to cry, "Play Ball!". The only thing not certain was the weather, and even that complied. Under a bright blue sky with temperatures in the seventies, Allegheny County Commissioner John J. Kane threw out the ceremonial first pitch and the Community Center and American Legion nines took to the field for the first official Brookline Little League game.

In that first game, pitcher Jack Lammert of the Community Center team won a 4-1 decision over the American Legion squad, striking out 14 batters from the slab and driving in two runs with his bat. For the losing Legion team, Cliff Watterson made an impressive mound appearance, striking out eleven of the opposing batters.

After the rush towards opening day was complete, the Brookline Little League season began in earnest. Umpires Nick Roth, Don Campbell, Dave Frick and Jack McLaughlin kept things in order on the diamond, and each team played an eighteen game schedule. After the last out of the season was recorded, Kiwanis Club came out on top with a 12-6 record and a one-game lead over the Ebenshire Village nine, who posted a 11-7 record, followed by American Legion, 8-10, and Community Center, 5-13.

For Morris Grumet, in his first year as league president, the season was dubbed a huge success. Even Brookline's All-Star team posted a respectable 4-2 record in tournament play, bowing out of the District 4 playoffs, ironically, to the organization that helped put Brookline baseball on the national map, the Brentwood Little League Association.

Brookline Little League All-Stars - 1952

The final chapter to the 1952 season was a banquet at the United Methodist Church. Over 200 people attended the affair, which was emceed by Pirate Announcer Bob Prince. Every Little League participant was given a model baseball bat as a souvenir, and then special awards were handed out for achievements on the field of play. Kiwanis Club manager Henry Hofbauer was given a team trophy for winning the first championship, James Nagy was given a trophy and jacket for Most Valuable Player, Buddy Auen was given a trophy and jacket as Batting Champion, and Jack Lammert was awarded a trophy and jacket, in addition to the loudest and longest round of applause, for being voted the Best Sportsman.

The 1952 season was over, and Brookline baseball was here to stay. Today, with the dawn of a new century at hand, the generations of Brookline children who grew up playing baseball at the Community Center Fields, and later at Sam Bryen, Danny McGibbeny and Stephen Mayhle Fields owe a sincere debt of gratitude to those hardy pioneers of 1952. Through their hard work and dedication, Brookline Little League baseball became a part of our neighborhood heritage that will never be forgotten.

For more information on the 1952 inaugural
Brookline Little League season,
Click Here.

The first group of Brookline Little
 Leaguers - 1952
Here is a photo of the first group of Brookline Little Leaguers, lined up on the
hillside at the Community Center Field with their managers and coaches in the back row.

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