Angry from Puerto Rico; Mending council fences will take a little longer; Free canoe rentals!; Where’s recreation committee?; $115 per softball game?; Inflated rec center was once the quest; Steve Lane is gone?!; All-sports museum caught in stagnation; Peach Festival at Amish Market; Kitten Nursery opening at CCSPCA Saturday


The column that says can anybody get really angry all the way from Puerto Rico when it concerns Bridgeton? You bet your sweet fire truck to fight ethanol they can, just one of the measures that was on the agenda of the canceled council meeting Tuesday night, because the president in Puerto Rico on vacation left Mike Zapolski in charge — a sort of mending fences there — but only Zapolski and Bill Spence showed up.

By Jack Hummel

Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.


Phone: 856-237-6645

U.S. Army: RA13815980

Google all columns at jackhummelblog

Good evening!

Council President Gladys Lugardo-Hemple is determined to mend the broken fences that are now city council so plans can move forward for a lot of important things in the city.

She thought she was halfway there until the failure of a quorum Tuesday night.

Maybe somebody should take a survey of how many people care, especially the ones paying taxes in the city, and not the ones who have moved out. Especially the Democrats who have been so successful in the past two elections.

One person ran against the current slate three years ago. In Millville, they get as many as 20 running in a municipal election because they all have ideas how to fix things. Same with Vineland. Is there anybody left to run in Bridgeton who would not be satisfied with the status quo?


Free canoe rentals in Bridgeton!

The man at the stand at Sunset Lake said he just got a text from bis boss that they will be free “until further notice.”

Of course, this afternoon was no time to be on the water.

Here is why Facebook doesn’t count when it comes to giving approval to new ideas. When it was announced that kayaks and canoes would be available to rent for $10 on Sunset Lake, the accolades poured in, mostly from memory of how it used to be.

The people making those comments have no intentions of using them. And the depth of the Raceway is not what it was, so the idea of paddling from the old canoe house to the lake is not possible.

Why is there no longer a recreation committee in Bridgeton, yet there’s one in Hopewell glittering with former athletes in the area?

Why does it cost $115 per game to have a softball league in the city when Stow Creek offers its field free as long as you have insurance and you maintain the field?

Mainly because there was too much drinking and too much fighting during games, but that’s why 40 percent of the budget goes for police security. You don’t let two perfectly fine fields lay fallow because a few people can’t control themselves.

You weed them out. You ban them for three years.

Whoever was in charge of this move should be admonished publicly. And not be given control of the situation. We need positive moves in Bridgeton. Where have you ever seen a city get strung along by a proposed ethanol plant for at least three years, and bans men’s softball like it never existed when Rich Chappius and Urie Morris represented F&M Bank for decades.

A little history

Feb. 20, 2013

Tommy Hayes has one good knee.

The other one is bone rubbing on bone.

“They tell me I need a knee replacement,’’ he said as he sat dressed in his softball uniform last week at the Upper Deerfield McDonald’s.

“I can’t do that. You can’t play softball with a knee replacement. It’s been proven.’’

Hayes is 64 years old.

He once played for the most successful softball team in Bridgeton — Farmers & Merchants Bank.

They refuse to grow old.

They’ve outlived the bank, once located all over Cumberland County.

It was a situation where Clarence McCormick, the founder of the bank, couldn’t do enough for the team, from uniforms to championship jackets to banquets.

The team dominated the fast-pitch leagues in the area, then did the same in slo-pitch when fast-pitch died out.

Rick Rowsen coaches the over-60 team. 

Hayes & Co. is keeping the legend alive.

“We play year round,’’ said Hayes. “After the regular season, we play fall ball and then we go to the indoor complex in Pitman.’’

They play in what is called the Camden County Senior Slo-Pitch League.

Over 60, Over 65 and Over 70 divisions.

“In Pitman, three doctors bought an old rehab center and turned it into an indoor recreation complex with a restaurant and artificial turf.’’

It’s called Total Turf Experience. You can eat while you play.

“We’re just practicing now,’’ he said. “We have 25 guys, so we split them up and play each other until the season starts.’’

Eleven start, with four outfielders and a short fielder.

There are two first bases and two home plates to avoid collisions.

The average score is in the 20s.

The coach is Rick Rowsen, the short-fielder.

“We used to play against him at Schalick,’’ said Hayes. “He’s the best short-fielder in the league.’’

The summer season starts April 7 and finishes in late August.

Tommy Hayes, left, and his old Farmers & Merchants Bank coach Urie Morris.

Their home field is Elmer Babe Ruth.

Their sponsor is Stahl Post in Delaware, which makes no sense because Hayes has only been there twice.

“They pick up everything but the cost of the bats,’’ he said.

They go to tournaments up and down the East Coast.

“We went to the World Series in Florida in 2010. Stahl put up $850 for the trip.’’
Bobby Zimmerman is another F&M Banker.

“He’s older than me and he’s the shortstop on the all-star team every year,’’ said Hayes.
“Nothing gets by him.’’

Pete Holden is 69 and “a freak of nature.

“He can hit a softball 300 feet.’’

Remember Orville “Juice’’ Johnson, the scratch golfer who once dreamed of playing on the PGA tour?

He’s the baby of the group at 62.

The bats they use cost $399.

“It’s a Miken,’’ said Hayes. “It’s made out of titanium. We have to keep it in a sleeve because if it gets below 50 degrees, it can shatter.’’

Games are played on Sunday morning, which costs them heavy hitters who go to church.

“We’re picking up Garry Mazza, who can hit a little bit,’’ said Hayes. “He’s 59.’’

Not that many league funerals, either.

“We had four guys die in the same year on a middle division team (Over 65),’’ said Hayes, “And they all died from the same thing — prostate cancer.’’

Heart attacks?

“Nope,’’ said Hayes. “But we get our knees shot up a couple times a year and take pain pills.’’

Hayes tore up his knee in 1985.

“I was operated on Monday and played Tuesday night,’’ he said. “I had to use a different name.’’

The team might be a draw for an exhibition at the Bridgeton Invitational Baseball Tournament, especially if Tommy Hayes is doing the talking.

Especially with so many local players on the team.

“We asked,’’  said Hayes. “They didn’t want to hear it.’’

Probably because Hayes is too competitive. He’d rather win than entertain.

Hayes remembers when he used to go to national softball tournaments, like in Richmond.

“Me and O.J. (Orville Johnson) were walking around and we saw this guy who had thighs bigger than the light pole he was standing next to,’’ he said.

He was talking to himself.

“I went up and asked him how he was doing,’’ said Hayes. “He told us the magazine he was reading was wrong. He said he knew he had more than 500 home runs.

“For your career?’’ Hayes asked him.

No, since January, he replied.

The man went on to tell Hayes and O.J. he was paid $200 for every weekend game he played plus $25 per homer.

From Monday to Thursday, he worked in the Steele’s sporting goods store in Ohio.

“And this was Memorial Day,’’ recalled Hayes. “We stayed around to watch them play and they hit 18 straight homers in the first inning and wound up winning, 44-3, in five innings.’’

A great story teller, Hayes had one more tale to tell.

Hayes, Zimmerman and their old F&M coach, Urie Morris, were there when Charlie Manuel was inducted into the Bridgeton Sports Hall of fame.

“I heard Charlie liked moonshine,’’ said Hayes, who grew up not far from Manuel in West Virginia.

He let it go with a wink.

Last year, the over-60 team went 23-1, and didn’t lose a game in fall ball. The team has won five straight titles.

“Until they found the indoor complex in Pitman, they practiced all winter outdoors in Elmer.

You can call that nuts. Tommy Hayes doesn’t care.

As long as you don’t try to take that $399 bat out of his hands.

Did you know that one of the Menz brothers started a collection in the 1979s to buy a blow-up indoor recreation center? We remember the proceeds from something was the first donation. That’s how big recreation was in Bridgeton and when you have a field where Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige, Steve Carlton and Pete Rose once walked to Bridgeton cheers, why do you have to be talking history, and not the present and future.

Tommy Hayes will do. Who gives moonshine to a Phillies manager?

Speaking of Manuel and everybody else enshrined in the All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey, when is the free $90,000 building from CCTEC that is more a house than a hall of fame candidate going to be retrofitted by tearing out everything that should be in a house to make it part of the museum, as ordered by the business administrator.

No compromise, even though the hall of fame directors wanted to give that building to the senior citizens and just use the wall of their current building to display memorabilia.

It wouldn’t hurt anything the seniors do because it would still be their building for their meetings and their lunches and anything else they want to do — except maybe play racquetball.

Who cares? Apparently no one who left in the city, and you really can’t expect the 43% Latinos to care because they’re new here.

Where are the other 57%?

When it comes to recreation, you really miss Jerry Alden. When he wanted something done, he just did it, and damn the red tape.

Steve Lane is gone? My buddy who came on the radio show and told it like it was, and loved the Dallas Cowboys, and never backed off from a good argument.

The defensive lineman who got thrown out of his last high school game because he couldn’t stand the losing.

Who blocked home plate like a concrete mixer in high school and semi-pro ball.

We didn’t know until just now.

“Hi, Jack, this is Arletha.

“I hope by now you know that Steve passed away on June 27. He was just diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in early May. It’s a blessing that he didn’t suffer long. Steve really enjoyed his friendship with you, especially your lively discussions and debates. I know for sure that Steve was grateful to you for the many articles you wrote about him over the years, and the opportunities you gave him to speak on your radio show.

“Steve LOVED to talk and he was so articulate and very knowledgeable on so many topics. I miss him dearly but, as Believers, we know we’ll be reunited again in Heaven. Jack, I hope and pray that you are doing well. Take good care of yourself!”

— Arletha Wright Lane,

who we worked with at the Bridgeton News and whose wedding we attended, and whose lips we kissed, something we reminded Steve of every time we met

We are absolutely stunned!

A little history

Nov. 8, 2013

Steve Lane was seated at the Green Olive restaurant interview table for a talk about his weight.

A photographer was close by, waiting to see what he ordered for breakfast.

The plan was, show the world how little Lane would order 10 years after his gastric
bypass surgery. Maybe 4 ounces. Maybe 6 ounces by now.

But, first, the Bridgeton High graduate remembered his football playing days.

“I  played two-way tackle at Bridgeton High,” he said. “I was 5-foot, 9-inches tall and 225 pounds, and quick, too. At Montclair State, I was 245 pounds as a nose guard. We did well.”

The waitress arrived.

“Coffee,” said Lane, 54.

Just coffee?

After listening to the interviewer order, Lane asked for a menu.

The history continued. After college, he walked into a casino looking for a job and saw a fraternity brother.

“I started the next day in purchasing,” he said.

He stayed in shape by playing flag football for Donald Trump.

“He flew us all over for games,” Lane recalled.

FAT MAN CCH_3634.jpg

Then he ran a construction company in Monmouth County specializing in asbestos and lead abatement. He traveled all over the country. He whipped out a permit allowing him to work at the Pentagon.

“Asparagus, Swiss cheese and bacon omelet with wheat toast, and fruit,” he finally told the waitress.

Whoa! It was like matching breakfasts.

“I’ve been on seven cruises,” he said of his lifestyle. “High-dollar meals.”

His knees began to bother him at 40 when his weight soared to 385. 

“I kept having a recurring dream,” he said. “I kept seeing the number 44 in my obituary.
That’s what did it.”

As in dying at age 44.

“I told myself I still had too much to do and a 10-year-old son, and picturing someone else raising him, I would wake up. No lap band for me,” said Lane. “Get the whole shot. I’ve got a scar this long. It was like somebody split me with an ax.”

He hates the lap band. 

“I know people who have had it three times,” he said. “Change your lifestyle.
Convenience is what is killing America.”

He heard horror stories at the pre-surgery meeting, including a woman who had busted her staples. When it was time for surgery, he was 458 pounds.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “This wasn’t me. My waist size was 62 inches. I never ate that much. I went from athlete to sedentary. Instead of playing ball, I was watching ball. And coaching. I coached Stevie.


“My doctor, Fiore Copare, said to me, ‘Steve, you’re the healthiest fat dude I’ve ever treated.'”

After the surgery, Lane said he lost 80 pounds in three weeks with two-thirds of his stomach bypassed. Like a building coming down.

“Watermelon and V-8 juice,” was his secret. He had to stay on a liquid diet for six weeks, but he liked it so much, he stayed on it. He plateaued at 130 pounds, then started buying new clothes.

“I just wanted to get down to 225 pounds,” he said. “I got there a year-and-a-half after
surgery. I was at 250 for a while, but I didn’t care because I felt good.”

Eight years later, he’s still at his goal weight.

“I detest being full,” he said. “I hate buffets and places like Golden Corral. And I don’t eat by a clock. I may be up at 3 in the morning eating. I’m the cook in the
family. Always have been.” 

The waitress brought him a doggie bag.

In went 80 percent of the omelet, the toast and the fruit.

It was no longer matching plates.

We loved that man!

Bridgeton Crabfest dinner tickets are on sale!

There will be music, educational vendors, and the famous kayak race.

Buy tickets online via the link on the event page, call 856-453-8130 to pre-order or, email


If you don’t like peaches, stay home and listen to us on 92.1 FM.

If you love peaches, get the ice cream all over your Iphone listening to us sitting in the spacious market area.

Mike and Ike don’t like peaches.



At the Cumberland County SPCA …

We are excited to announce the grand opening of our brand new Kitten Nursery right at the shelter.

Join us on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as we cut the ribbon on the special section of our adoption room that will feature many of our adoptable kittens during kitten season.

We also will be kicking off our Kitten Shower to help us collect many of the supplies that are necessary to care for the hundreds of little lives that depend on us.

We have a lot planned for this special day. Our volunteers will be providing delicious refreshments for all our visitors.

Our adoptable kittens are ready to do their best to win your heart. We have kittens in a range of ages, sizes, shapes, and colors. It’s almost a guarantee that, if you are looking to add a furry family member to your home, one of the residents of our Kitten Nursery will be exactly what you are looking for.

— Maria DeFillipo

YOU CAN BOOK ITWhere it’s World Series time in Florida and local softball teams are making the most of it.

Angry from Puerto Rico; Mending council fences will take a little longer; Free canoe rentals!; Where’s recreation committee?; $115 per softball game?; Inflated rec center was once the quest; Steve Lane is gone?!; All-sports museum caught in stagnation; Peach Festival at Amish Market; Kitten Nursery opening at CCSPCA Saturday

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