The Forestville Little League (FLL) started in 1954 with the first game being played at the site of the former Sarah E, Reynolds School, now occupied by St. Matthew Church.The following year, in 1955, the league moved to the site on King St. known as Wilson Field, which was named after a top executive from the Bristol Brass Corporation that donated the land to the city of Bristol.
Those early years of the league featured some outstanding players such as Tom Shopay who played a number of years in the major leagues. Others included Dave Cichon, Dave “Yogi” Eckstrom, Gary Palladino and Billy Gregor. Probably the most famous person to play in the FLL was NBC Sports Commentator, Bob Costas who played for the Giants in the league in 1961 and 1962 with such standouts as Billy McCabe, Bob McCabe and Jack Hamilton.
The person most responsible and credited with founding the league was William “Woody” Silverio who also served as the first president and president from 1958-1961. Other founding fathers were John Gerzanick, George Milbrandt, Fred Jennings, Mit Komanetsky, Frank Owsianko and Bill Carpenter.
John Gerzanick also served three terms as president and the following also served multiple terms: Roger Martin 1962-1965, Henry Puskarz, 1967-1976, Charles Roach, 1977-1978, Donald Waite, 1980-1981, Harold “Bud” Kilduff, 1983-1991, Richard Duprey, 1995-1997, John Fredericks, 1998-2001 and Marty Vibert, 2002-2004.
In the early 1960’s, the league moved to its present location behind Greene-Hills School. There were two little league fields to accommodate eight major and minor league teams. A small concession stand was built to help raise funds for the league and was operated by the auxiliary.
The first Auxiliary President in 1970 was Marsha Baker. Serving multiple terms as auxiliary president were, Dorothy Lumbra, 1972-1973, Patricia Vontell, 1975-1976, Carol Massarelli, 1977-1981, Jeanne Fort, 1985-1986, Pauline Vasil, 1988-1989, Diane Parker, 1990-1992, Jerry Dube, 1994-1995, Michelle Allen., 1996-1997, Denise Fredericks, 1999 & 2001 and Karen Vibert, 2002-2003.
In 1986, the league built its third little league field at Greene-Hills Schools where a regulation field was used for many years to help keep up with an expanding league. Also around this time, the league made significant improvements to all three fields and built a new concession stand and bathroom facilities.
The league was expanding at a tremendous rate. Softball was started and proved to be very successful as well as T-Ball for youngster’s aged six and seven. In 1990, the league had over 50 teams and over 600 youngsters’ aged 6-12 playing organized little league.
In 1991, the league sought permission from neighboring Peck Park to build a new field to be used exclusively for T-Ball and softball. In 1993, Field 4 was officially dedicated with a grand opening ceremony attended by numerous city officials and hundreds of players and fans. This new field helped tremendously by providing a much-needed playing field for our youngest participants and softball.
The highlight of the FLL came in 1976 when the FLL All-Stars advanced to the LL World Series in Williamsport, PA. After losing their first game, they won their next three to finish fifth in the world. In recent years, Bristol Softball teams have also found success in All-Stars. In 2001, 2002 and 2003, the Bristol Juniors were state champs. In 2002, the Bristol Seniors were state and regional champs and advanced to the Senior Softball World Series in Louisville, Kentucky. The Bristol teams were made up of players from Forestville, McCabe Waters and Edgewood LL.
In June of 1999, the FLL honored Robert “Bobby” Watson for his long commitment to Forestville LL and little league in general. Watson, a retired Bristol Police Officer, first started volunteering in the league in 1955 and has been involved ever since. He coached numerous championship teams as well as serving as coach of the 1976 All-Star team that played in the LL World Series. Bob is also District 5 LL Administrator and was very instrumental in helping secure the Eastern Region LL Tournament to Bristol. Numerous speakers praised Watson for his achievements over the years.
Also in 1999, the league presented its first Joey McGinn Sportsmanship Award in honor of former player Joey McGinn who passed away earlier in the year after a long battle with kidney problems. The award is presented annually to one baseball and one softball player who demonstrates the best sportsmanship during the year. The first recipients were Kevin Curry and Tricia Twomey.
In 2001, the 25th Anniversary of the FLL All-Stars playing in the LL World Series, the team was honored at the leagues annual awards banquet in the fall. Many of the players attended along with coach Bob Watson. George Springer, a member of the 76 team spoke on behalf of the team as well as Watson.
2003 marked the 50th anniversary of the FLL. A 50th anniversary dinner dance was held in November with numerous former players and volunteers attending at Nuchie’s Restaurant in Forestville. The league surprised long time retiring treasurer Bob Kalat by roasting him at the dinner. Speakers included, President Marty Vibert, Vice-President Larry Nadeau, ERLL Director Don Soucy, District 5 DA Bob Watson, District 5 ADA Maryellen Holden and Bob’s son Kevin.