Manville A.A. baseball team

manville-aa-baseball-1930Manville A.A. Baseball Team • Click to Enlarge

When I first started trying to sort out Manville’s history it became very obvious very early that sports were a big deal in town. In fact there are so many different baseball teams that it’s hard to even make sense of them all. Recently I was digitally archiving some taped interviews and I came across this 1985 interview of Manville businessman, and former Manager of the Manville Yellow jackets football team, Marty Weiss.

Marty was an original Manville guy with an extremely vivid memory, and I’ll probably end up posting the whole interview up here. For now though I want to focus on the sports segment, and how Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige both played baseball in Manville! If you are unfamiliar with those guys, we are talking about two of the best black baseball players to ever play the game, and the first 2 black players to be inducted in to the hall of fame.

In the past I have heard the the Black Yankees used to play Manville A.A. in baseball and I know Satchel played for them in 1941. Being that they were based out of Paterson, N.J. at the time it all adds up. Again I’m a huge baseball geek so this is yet another claim to fame, at least as far as I’m concerned for my little hometown. And by the way, in case you missed my 2010 post on our Manville guy that made it to the Major Leagues please see my post on Johnny ‘legs’ Welaj.

In the meantime though take a listen to this clip of Marty Weiss’s interview with Edward Purzycki back on 8-23-1985. He goes on to talk about his time coaching the Yellow Jackets football team and how he couldn’t keep those guys out of Petey’s Bar… which if you are unfamiliar with later became Gatto’s. Thanks to the Manville Public Library for this Gem. Here you go…

Manville News, December 5th, 1941

banner-12-5-1941Hey everyone. Since I’m on fire with the posts lately I figured I would scan another issue of the old Manville News. I know a lot of you just want to see photos, but these newspaper issues are literally not available anywhere else and are a valuable resource. Also, it’s been a long, long time since I posted one. This one is from December 5th, 1941. You can download this issue by clicking the following link… Manville News 12-05-41 OCR

If you are new to this blog… a while back I aquired some 1941-1943 issues of this old local weekly paper and have already scanned and posted like 26 issues. You can get the older issues under the “Newspaper Archive” category on the right side of the blog or by clicking HERE. You can download each issue and they are scanned with text recognition so you can search the PDFs for names and the like. They have some great old advertising too! Anyway. There are more photos coming soon I promise!

The Manville Royals

Manville-RoyalsClick Photo to Enlarge

I’m always excited to get some new material up here, particularly stuff I was completely unaware of. The Manville Royals were a baseball team we have not seen on this site yet. Thankfully Rich Hamernik contributed these excellent photos, which he thinks are from the 20’s. I think I agree with him. Rich’s Grandfather Charlie “Butch” Hamernik was the team’s third baseman (and allegedly a pretty good one). Unfortunately I do not have a list of names for all of the folks on the team, but I’d love to update this post if anyone can identify them! In the meantime though here is a great photo of Charlie suited up for a game… as always click the photos to enlarge! These photos are awesome Rich! Thank you!

Charlie-Hamernik-Manville-RoyalsAlso, don’t forget if you want to print, email, or share this post check the icons on the bottom!

OK Manville. Here is another Mystery for you…

manville baseball 1Click Photo to Enlarge

Seriously, I feel like the funnest part about this blog is getting random photos and trying to figure out what they are all about. I’m sure the people that submit them share in the gratification as well. This morning I got an email from a member of the Chabra family. If you live in Manville you surely are familiar with the Chabra name. He says these photos were taken sometime in the 1930s. Possibly in Manville. They are photos of a baseball game, which likely means (if this is indeed Manville) that they would’ve been taken at Evans Field. The thing is, none of the Evans field photos I’ve ever seen really look like this… but perhaps it’s a new angle. The other identifier in this photo may be the band, who seem to have the initials “BB” on them, which screams Bound Brook to me.

I guess most importantly these photos belonged to John Chabra with is a huge reason to believe these actually are photos of Manville. So the Important question is… anyone recognize these guys? This field? or those houses? If so, or even if you think you have a clue… please leave us a comment!

manville baseball 2

Thanks for submitting these photos… Manville or not, these are really classic and amazing looking! This last one… I’m so jealous of this guys moustache!

On a side note, I’ve decided to start a new category on this blog called “mystery photos” If you have any mystery photos send them over and maybe with the help of some of the blog readers we can sort them out. This can be like a fun project… I feel like we have identified so many already over the years.

manville baseball 3

Manville Grammar School Basketball Team

Manville Grammar School Basketball Team • Click to Enlarge

I got another great Manville sports photo from Art & Gary Carmon. Again, I was pleased to find that my great uncle Tony is in this one. Another thanks to the Carmon family for this great shot… the photos they have been submitting are excellent quality. Here is Gary’s original message…

“In this MGS basketball photo (circa 1948), my father named these players…

 From left to right, in the back: John Brennan, Art Carmon, ?, Emily Potopowitz, John Terriciano, Pete Wejkus, Tony Polnasek.

 In the front: Vic Czyprevitz, Charlie Siatta, Willie Crycherik, Bob Lupine, Bob Passerello.

Also, he mentioned that this building had a low ceiling, so long shots were not possible!

 This structure (now Rhythm’s) was built by my great-grandmother Mary Bobrowski’s 2nd husband Arlan Koval.  He also built the white brick building (Classical Glass) across from Gatto’s, where my mother grew up.  That building is shown in your Manville Buildings blog (Middlebrook Encampment marker).”

Evans Field / Manville Yellow Jackets

Evans Field (1953) • Click to Enlarge

The fact that Manville had a tremendously talented semipro football team was totally unbeknownst to me until I started turning over the stones of Manville’s history. No one that I can remember in my years as a young boy growing up in Manville ever spoke of it. Not the teachers, the gym teachers, the history teachers, not even the many sports organizations I was involved with as a very young man. We even have a street named after the old sports field, where so many great memories and histories were achieved. Still the term Evans Field, literally meant nothing to me all my life. I find this to be slightly discouraging. I guess we can chalk it up to a young town not valuing it’s historical assets.

Evans Field was located right off Main Street between the Royce Brook and Fucillo Street, behind the current Steve’s Tire. As you can see on the 1953 map above from, the current Manville street “Evans Drive” runs basically straight through what used to be the old Evans Field… the old practice site of the Manville Yellow Jacktes from the 1920’s to sometime in the 50’s. Gary Carmon sent in this great team photo and the accompanying caption…

Started in 1928 when a group of JM workers began playing Raritan and Bound Brook teams. They also played up in the coal mining towns of PA, where many Manville residents originated. The home games were played at Evans Field, currently where Evans Dr is near Weston school. I believe they played up until sometime in the 40’s.

This picture shows the 1930 champs –

Left to right, front row sitting: Andy Batcho, Mickey Repka, Ralph Stanley, William Pilla, Jake Zimney

Middle row kneeling: Leo Piskowski, Steve Zydiak, Adam Sandusky, Jim Kelyman, Frank Sobchinsky, Andrew Shutack, George Hallad, Andy Lapotsky

Standing in the back: Joseph Shutack, Joe Rosky, Chester Myskowski, Charles Golcheski, Andrew Menzak, Pete Menzak, Leo Traney, Jerry Deto, Frank “Ham” Dudash, Henry Waida, Pete Semenick

Adam Sandusky is my grandfather Vincent’s brother, and owned Sandusky’s Bar in Finderne.  Adam’s son Mike played for the Pittsburgh Steelers 1957-65.”

IF you are unfamiliar with the Yellow Jackets you can see an earlier post with some action shots HERE. But Gary also, submitted this great article from the Manville News, which is a great abridged history of the team. This article will enlarge if you click on it.

But Evans Field was more than just a football field, it also doubled as a baseball field. Home plate was the current corner of Newark Ave and Fucillo St. Gary also, sent in some great photos of the Manville Grammar School baseball team from 1946, which I was pleased to find out included my great Uncle Tony Polnasek, and Gary’s father Art. Anyway let me get right to the photo followed by another caption from Gary.

This picture was featured in a Manville News article, dated Feb. 2, 1989:

“Art Carmon remembered the lineup”

Standing, from left to right, are Art Carmon, John Dinsmore, an unknown player, Lloyd Wade, Pete Weichkus, John Terraciano, Ed Wolenski, Tony Polnasek, John Brennan.

Kneeling, from left to right, are Bob Lupino, Charles Saitta, Bob Passarello, Steve Ziegler, Julius Smolinka, Vic Czupprewicz, Frank Vayda and Charles Hladun. “

Art is my father.  He played at the many baseball fields of Manville over the years, including:

–          Dukes Parkway Park

–          the current site of the Rustic Mall bowling alley

–          the current site of the MHS parking lot

And here are a few more MGS player photos… You can click on them to enlarge them. Gary Carmon has been a long time supporter and contributor to the blog. I just want to thank him, Art, and the rest of the Carmon family for all of their help.

Manville Ladies Bowling League 1940’s

Here is the second of some great photos submitted by Tom Kopczyk. This one is the ladies bowling league. He was kind enough to do a little write up on each one, so I’ll let this be expressed in his own words. But as always, we love the comments. Thanks Tom!

“Ladies Bowling League, circa early 1940’s. Standing center right, holding a bowling ball is my Aunt Pauline Perun. Kneeling third from right is my Aunt Mary Zielonka & forth from right is my Mother, Veronica Kopczyk. Parkway Lanes near Walt’s Inn first came to mind but after some discussion my brother Mike and I believe this photo was taken in the old bowling alley in the Polish Home.” – Tom Kopczyk

Manville News, September 12th, 1941

It’s hard to imagine that Manville would still be struggling to get their streets in order 12 years after it originally became a town. Especially since the bad condition of the roads was a main reason that the borough made a bid for it’s independence. In this digital September 12th, 1941 issue of the old Manville News, it’s clearly still a big community issue. The big stories also include a fire at the Polish Home and opening day of the Manville Yellowjackets football season. This is a pretty good one! Manville News 9-12-1941

Johnny ‘Legs’ Welaj (1914-2003)

Being an avid baseball fan, I was ecstatic to learn that late 30s, early 40s Washington Senator outfielder Johnny ‘legs’ Welaj was an ex – Manvillian. I’m so embarrassed. How could i live the first 34 years of my life, being a baseball fan without realizing that Manville, N.J. had M.L.B. representation? Making his major league debut on May 2, 1939, Johnny played with the Senators for 3 seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia Athletics in 1943. In 793 total at bats he averaged a career 250 batting average, with a 298 On base percentage. Johnny ended his short 4 year Major League career in September of 1943.

John continued to play Minor League baseball until 1954, became a Minor League manager until taking a job as the Senators sales and promotional chief in 1957. Johnny stayed on board with the Senators through their expansion to Texas, where he was eventually promoted to Director of stadium operations & spring training director. He eventually retired in 1999. He stayed in Texas until his death in 2003.

Jonathan Eig remembers John (and the loyal Manville fans) in his book “Luckiest man: the life and death of Lou Gehrig”…

You can see Johnny’s complete stats HERE.

Manville vs. Somerville 1958


I have a feeling that this blog is starting to drive the Ebay market a little, at least in terms of Manville treasures. I’ve been noticing more and more random Manville stuff popping up since the inception of this blog. I had another stellar Ebay find this morning. The program from the Manville vs. Somerville football game from september of ’58. The first thing I would say about this is that the cover design is awesome! Unfortunately the line up pages are not legible from the photos. I can never read the line ups on these when I find them online. Seeing this got me thinking about sports programs and how it would be sweet to archive them on this site. I think it would be great for people to have local sports info at their fingertips… So, you know… thats a hint. If you have any laying around that you could take clear digital photos of, or, if you would allow me to borrow them, scan them, and return them that would be incredible. Then I can host them on here for anyone to view or download. Wouldn’t it be awsome to have a Manville sports game/score/program/photo archive?!