Little League: Toms River East seeks to build on rich tradition

Little League: Toms River East seeks to build on rich tradition

It’s all a part of Toms River baseball’s circle of existence.

Take Dave Capello, who were given his first taste of it back in 1995. That’s whilst, as an 8-year-antique, he watched the Toms River East Little League crew make it to the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Leading the way became Jeff Frazier, whose father took place to grow up with Capello’s dad in Whippany.

Then it changed into Todd Frazier and the “Beast of the East” crew winning the World Championship in 1998, with Capello and his own family within the stands at Lamade Stadium. A 12 months later, Capello and his teammates made it to the U.S. Championship game in Williamsport.

Little League: Toms River East seeks to build on rich tradition

Now Capello’s son, Jayce, is the shortstop for the New Jersey kingdom champion Toms River East squad that heads to the Metro Region Tournament in Bristol, Connecticut with hopes of creating it to the World Series a yr after the Capello’s have been inside the stands while a Carson Frazier-led crew made it to Williamsport.

“It became a long time in the past but I don’t forget it all very vividly,” Dave Capello stated. “So to stay it and now to look at it manifest for my son it’s been pretty cool, mainly because due to the fact that he become antique enough to hold a bat he has regarded what I did at that age. Not that there are any expectations, but for him it has always been a goal.”

More:Little League Baseball 2022: Metro Region Tournament Guide, time table, the way to watch

The stories from more than two decades ago had been instructed and retold, with memorabilia from those glory days decorating the walls of the Capello home.

“He brags about it loads,” said Jayce Capello, looking for a few bragging rights of his very own in the coming weeks.

Toms River East opens play Saturday (4 p.M.; ESPN+) at the Metro Region where journey a to the World Series is up for grabs for the tournament winner. The first recreation is towards Massapequa (N.Y.) Coast.

Foundation for success

Mike Mendes may not have grown up in Toms River, but the Toms River East manager has a terrific cope with on what’s unfolding. He became the third baseman on a Brick group that gained the 1990 kingdom championship to attain the location tournament in Bristol.

“I knew Toms River had this rich tradition of baseball and when we moved here I realized we were on the east side and I was excited about it,” Mendes said. “I was excited for my kid to have the opportunity to play baseball on that side of town. And lucky for me I’ve been able to coach him every single year he’s been in the league, so it has been really fun for us.”

Now Mendes and his son, Michael, who traveled to Bristol and Williamsport as fans last summer, are hoping to secure a spot on the field at this year’s World Series.

“It’s surreal for a minute, but it is an amazing experience the kids are going through and the families and everything,” Mendes said.  “What we’re all experiencing right now is pretty cool. All of our kids either went to Williamsport or Bristol last year. It was a neat experience.”

It’s a self-sustaining model, where the past helps set the stage for future teams from year-to-year, and from one generation to the next.

Little League: Toms River East seeks to build on rich tradition“I talked to Paddy Matera about that,” said Capello of Matera, a coach on last year’s Williamsport team, which was eliminated at the Little League Intermediate World Series in California Wednesday. “He said when you have a team that does that it paves the way. It gives belief to the kids below. Why not us? Why can’t we do it?

“And then on top of it you go into these tournaments and it’s like, ‘oh man, these guys are big, they look good. I tell my son, ‘you guys are Toms River East.’ They know what we’ve done and they know we bring to the table.“

Last year, it was Carson Frazier punching the team’s ticket to Williamsport by driving in the game-winning runs with a three-run double in the sixth inning to cap a furious comeback.

“It was great and it really got our team pumped up because we knew we were good enough to do that and it just got us to really work hard to get to this point,” said Jayce Capello of last year’s experience watching the 12-year-olds, after his 11-year-old team lost in the New Jersey final.

“It was awesome, just crazy seeing my best friends play on that level.”

History repeats

The ties that bind all of this together are unbreakable, getting stronger as the years pass.

“I grew up with Todd Frazier. Our families were good friends,” Capello said. “When Jeff went in 1995 we were like ‘what the heck is this?’ And then in 1998 I was there, sitting with my father and uncle on the Japan side when Todd led the (championship game) off with a home run. I was there watching and then the next year we went back-to-back.

“The parallels are what’s really cool for me. Todd went in 1998 and I went in 1999, and we played on the same Little League team and coach (Mike) Gaynor was our coach. And my son Jayce and Carson Frazier were on the same team and I was one of the coaches, and we were in Bristol and Williamsport last year so it’s just crazy.”

Now the Toms River baseball fraternity is laser focused on what could be its latest moment on the national stage.

“I have been texting with my team. We had our 20-year reunion a few years ago, and they follow us,” Capello said. “Some were at the state games, sectional games. They are going nuts. Some of them are going to Bristol.”

“It’s about building relationships,” Mendes added. “You’re never going to forget these things. These are unbelievable opportunities. Enjoy the moment. The whole state tournament that is what we talked to the kids about. ‘You deserve to be here, you need to enjoy this moment and have some fun.’ “

And if history is any indication, memories to last a lifetime will be part of this team’s legacy.

Want to help offset travel costs?

Anyone interesting in donating to Toms River East Little League to help offset the cost of travel for families involved with the league’s two All-Star teams, including the 12-year-olds, can send checks to P.O. Box 635, Toms River N.J. 08754. Please make sure to put AS2022 on the memo of the check.