Toms River East Little League Ready To Be Champions Again

Mascots and players marched in the Opening Day parade. (Photo courtesy Toms River East Little League)

 TOMS RIVER – Neither rain nor 46-degree temperatures prevented the Toms River East Little League from celebrating its storied history with an Opening Day parade and festivities.

  “The rain didn’t bother us,” league president Tommy Noone said prior to the event. “In the last 20 years, it has rained 18 times. We’re used to it. It would not be an opening without rain.”

  Headlining the parade were the league’s championship 50/70 13U and 60/90 14U All-Star teams of last summer. Hundreds of members, led by Todd Frazier, who powered the Toms River East American Little League All-Star team to the 1998 Little League World Series title, marched. Hidden under umbrellas and attired in rain gear, hundreds of fans lined Windsor Avenue, the league’s location, enjoying their idols.

  The team was known as the Beast of the East. A sign depicting the name was on the windshield of a Toms River District No. 1 fire truck. Two New Jersey State Police officers rode horses. Weather grounded a flyover from the state police. The Toms River Township Police Department participated in the parade and controlled traffic. There was an ambulance or two in the parade. 


  Ceremonies took place on the artificial surface at Gaynor Field, named for Mike Gaynor, manager of the 1998 team. Noone emceed the ceremonies.

  A bagpiper played a military set of songs. Frazier, a retired two-time major-league All-Star, a Major League Home Run Derby Champion and a 2020 Tokyo Olympics Silver medalist, exchanged hugs and fist bumps with fans on the first base line.

  Dan Iannaccone, the league’s vice president of operations, recited the Little League Pledge. A young girl sang the National Anthem.

  “Little League Baseball is a global organization,” Iannaccone said. “It does not matter what country you are in. We play the same game for one reason.”

Major Leaguer Todd Frazier, who is also a coach, poses with some young players. (Photo courtesy Toms River East Little League)

  Noone and Frazier credited the league’s sponsors for their support.

  “Thanks to our sponsors and board of directors, our fields are in the best condition they have ever been in,” Noone said. “In the last two years, the coaches of our 14 and under and other teams have brought home 14 championship banners. Coaches and their families give up their summers and lose a lot of money giving up work so that the boys can play baseball.”

  The U13 team won District 18, Section 3, New Jersey state and East Region championships. It placed third in the United States and sixth in the world at the 2023 Intermediate World Series in Livermore, California, and played on ESPN.

  “This is an exciting day,” Ed Todaro, one of its coaches, told the crowd. “The boys played hard and played together. The boys worked really hard and stuck together from the very start. They gelled together and became a tight knit bunch. We appreciate all of the work that you do here. People work hard to make the Toms River East Little League a success.”

  Other coaches were Mike Mendes and George Gallagher. Members were Jayce Cappello, Stan Citkowicz, Jake Gallagher, Brady Gillen, Logan Macchia, Christian Mascaro, Ryan McHugh, Michael Mendes, J.R. Moltz, Deklin Sloan, Tyler Todaro and Bryce Tomitz.

Players had fun with the mascots. (Photo courtesy Toms River East Little League)

  Coaches of the U14 New Jersey sectional champion team were Paul Mika, Bobby Arnesen and Paddy Matera. Players were Tyler Arnesen, Adrian Bilotti, Cailen Cimorelli, Joey Demeo, Carson Frazier, Cole Garrison, Jayden Luongo, Jalen McLean, Max Mika, Dominik Sabatino, Christopher Tenaro and Jason Verderrosa.

  There are new scoreboards on Field One and Field Five. A new machine drags the dirt and smooths the infields.

  “The improvements cost $15,000,” Noone said. “We made the improvements with sponsorship funding and money from fundraising events. We are still fundraising and looking to do more this year to our fields!”

  Players are ages 4-16. There are 600 players. The league consists of Tee Ball, Rookie, Farm, Single A, Triple A, Major and Senior divisions. The league was born in 1968.

  “We are a boys and girls Little League Baseball organization,” Noone said. “We do not offer softball for girls. We have maybe five girls in our league (they play baseball). The other Little League in town, the Toms River Little League, offers Little League Girls Softball. More girls are going to softball across town, which is great also. They have an awesome softball program.”

  Noone is in his second year as president. He has been involved in the league for 10 years. He’s in his fourth season on the Board of Directors.

  “I’m proud to be president of what is in my opinion one of the best and most successful little leagues in the world,” he said. “We’re doing our best as a league to make sure these kids have the best fields and complex to come and play baseball. We wouldn’t be able to do that without all of our local sponsors, who we appreciate greatly.

  “I think our league has been so successful because winning is contagious. Once you win, you want to do it again and again. I think all of these kids are playing more and more baseball than ever. They are getting better and better every year – and they want to follow in the footsteps of previous championship teams.”

  Todd Frazier, who signed autographs, posed for pictures and chatted with fans, told one team, “Good luck this year, guys. Tear it up.”

  Standing on the pitching rubber, Frazier fired the ceremonial first pitch to a young catcher, igniting cheers.

  “My arm was a little tight,” the former third baseman said, “but that’s OK. I wish I had thrown a strike. I am excited and honored to throw out the first ball.”

Little League All-Star and Major Leaguer Todd Frazier threw out the first pitch. (Photo courtesy Toms River East Little League)

  Noone offered a shout out to the New Jersey State Police and the Toms River Township Police Department.

  “Support them,” he said to hearty cheers. “One of the state troopers, Bobby Arnesen, is on our Board of Directors. He’s a coach of our 14 and under team. He got the horses here. He does a lot for this league. Thank you for coming out.”

  Frazier coaches the sons of he and his wife, Jacquelyn, in the league. Grant plays for the Flyin’ Tigers. Blake is with the Yankees. Frazier, 38, recalled playing in the league.

  “It’s everything to me,” the ex-Toms River High School South and Rutgers University standout said. “It’s what kick-started me. I can still remember the home runs I hit on these fields.”

  The Cincinnati Reds were Frazier’s first major-league team. He spent Friday, April 19, in the Queen City, interviewing Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout on a podcast, Foul Territory.

  “I miss hangin’ with the guys, talkin’ with the fellas … loving life,” Frazier said. “Mike Trout looks like he can play for another 25 years.”

 Frazier’s brothers are also involved in the league. Jeff, a former South and Rutgers star and a retired major leaguer, is a coach of the Braves of the Major Division. Charlie, who excelled at South and advanced to the Double A level in the Florida Marlins’ minor-league system, is a coach of the Expos of the Senior Division. All three brothers played under legendary South coach Ken Frank.

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Chris Christopher covers sports for Micromedia Publications/Toms River Online with knowledge, pride and passion. His beats are the high school, college, professional, youth and recreational scenes. A three-time New Jersey Press Association award winner for sports writing, Christopher was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work in the media. The Lakewood resident enjoys taking walks in Ocean County Park and on the boardwalks in Ocean and Monmouth counties and rooting for the New York Mets.