World Series Anniversary: Beast of the East Brought Championship Home 19 Years Ago
There was a lot of buzz these past few weeks over the great run made by the Holbrook Little League team from Jackson as they reached the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Being one of the final eight teams from the United States is an amazing accomplishment which brings me to today being the 19th anniversary of Toms River East American becoming the second and last team from Ocean County to win the LLWS.
Yes it was on August 29, 1998 when the boys from Windsor Avenue beat a team from Kashima, Japan 12-9 to cap an amazing summer which put Toms River on the national stage.I followed that team on their journey and was in Bristol, Connecticut and Williamsport for every game as we broadcast them on WOBM.
The entire process was a bit different then as only four teams from across the country made it to the World Series. East American team was actually one of two All-Star squads from the Toms River East Little League as they had too many players in the league to form just one super team. So they were separated by alphabet. If I remember correctly the American All-Stars were A-J and the Nationals who had some very good players were K-Z.
TR East actually lost five games on their way to the World Series in the district, state and regional tournaments but was perfect in Williamsport including the championship game in which 12-year old Todd Frazier led off the game with a home run, went 4-4 and got the final outs on the mound to secure the victory.
Frazier had plenty of company as the team included standouts like Scott Fisher and Casey Gaynor who both homered in the win over Japan and unlikely hero Chris Cardone who came off the bench to hit back-to-back homers. He had been 0-10 in Williamsport before that.
Not to be forgotten is the amazing job that was done by manager Mike Gaynor who would achieve something likely never to be matched in the history of Little League Baseball in the United States. He took three teams from Toms River East to Williamsport in a five-year span with his oldest son Colin (and Jeff Frazier) part of the 1995 team and son Casey would return in 1999 to lead East American back where they fell just short, losing in the U.S. Championship game.
Happy 19th Anniversary boys (I should say men) and thanks for the memories.