Years ago, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon volunteering at the Wicoff House Museum. That volunteering would lead into being an intern, which would lead into being a lead researcher on a project. This project was one that was talked about but no one ever undertook. That was the Twin M-League of Middlesex and Mercer counties in New Jersey from 1936 to 1951 — baseball, the American pastime. During this league’s time, it was actually something done after work.
Most of the men I researched were local to Plainsboro and actually working at the Walker-Gordon farm. Some of the famous characters you may know would be Elsie the Cow, whose image can be seen on a pack of cheese at the market, or her husband, Elmer, who you see on glue. Down the road in Grovers Mill was a water tower that was actually shot during the live broadcast of “The War of the Worlds.”
The men would work all day, and some even had the opportunity to play for the Cardinals and Athletics. At the end of the day, they came home to make more money farming. Can you imagine that today — that a farmer would be making more than a ballplayer? Years ago, most major league players had a winter job.
What an experience to toil in the depths of libraries at Rutgers and Princeton. The answer can be found to almost anything if you are willing to put in the time, effort and research. There I was, sifting through microfilm and finding any and all stories about the league, people who played in the league, people who attended games; interviews, compiling individual statistics, league statistics, championships won and lost. A few of the years played out as if they were a Kevin Costner movie.
I completed an exhibit, constructing an oral history while having a talk for the Plainsboro Historical Society speaker series and making a display for the championship teams: 1938 for Plainsboro, 1946 for Walker-Gordon. Also, I had the opportunity to have all the players who were still alive at the time sign a baseball to commemorate the league.
The point is to get out and find some history. Ask some questions. See who you can talk to about the past. This area has some of the most lucrative history out there. If we don’t learn history, we repeat it.
Mr. Karpinski is a Republican and Conservative candidate for East Hampton Town Council — Ed.
One fine body…