~~~Joe Bracchitta was born in the first ward of Hackensack in April of 1928. Like most kids in the neighborhood Joe played baseball, but he was different, he had a gift, he could play ball, by all accounts he was the best baseball player anyone in Hackensack had ever seen when he was growing up. In 1944 Joe entered Hackensack High school as a sophomore, ninth grade students did not attend High School then, and he went out for the baseball team which was coached by Howard Bollerman senior. It was 1944, World War II was raging, and the final phases of the Wars fury was coming to a head. Joe Bracchitta was playing center field for H.H.S. and was being noticed. He could catch anything hit and his hitting was beyond his years. With only three games left in the season Hackensack clinched the title when they beat Leonia 8-2 behind the pitching of Al Giles. Joe Bracchitta that day went 4-4 with a triple batting 4th in the lineup as a Tenth grade student.
~~~On June 8, 1944 Joe Bracchitta C.F., Ed Sudo S.S., Bob Held C. and Al Giles P. were named to the first team in the N.N.J.I.L. Baseball League. The paper was reporting on, Operation Overlord, or D- Day, which occurred on June 6, 1944 at this time.
~~~Bob Held the All County catcher and Frank Dulleck a sub on the team were both mentioned in the newspaper as “passing there physical examinations before the game {on May 4,1944} and were inducted into the Navy. They will not leave, however, until the close of school,” the paper reported.
Joe Bracchitta during the season was being scouted by the N.Y. Giants scout named Bob Trocolar from Teaneck . Bob Trocolar was familiar with the families of the first ward because he had lived off of South Main Street in Hackensack when he was a youth. Well this scout convinced Joe and his parents that he had the ability to play professional baseball and Joe signed a contract with the N.Y. Giants for only a few hundred dollars. When Howard Bollerman Senior heard that Joe Bracchitta, his star centerfielder who was only a sophomore had signed a professional contract he was furious at the scout Bob Trocolar. What was done was done though, and at age 16
Joe Bracchitta went to class D ball in Bristol Tenn. during the summer. Joe apparently kept improving and during the summer of his junior year he moved to class B ball in Trenton N.J. in 1945. In Joe's senior year, 1946, he was still attending H.H.S. and was voted most admired and his picture is in the yearbook although according to
Jim Trobiano and Tom Meli, Joe never graduated because unlike his sophomore and Junior year when he had waited until the school year was over to play ball, Joe did not wait until summer but left school in March or April to play professional baseball. Could you imagine how angry that made Howard Bollerman to have the best ballplayer He ever saw in school but unable to play because he signed a professional contract and then he leaves H.S. just before graduation. Joe was moved up to class A ball in Jacksonville Florida at the age of 18. At 19 years of age Joe Bracchitta was moved up to class AAA ball and was playing for the Jersey City Giants at the peak of that team's success in 1947.
~~~In 1948 the Italian community of the first ward had a Joe Bracchitta day at
Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City and the Trobiano's presented him with a car on
behalf of the City of Hackensack . Joe played the 1949 season in Jersey City and at 21 was primed for the major leagues. During the 1949 season the Giants sent a Negro league player to the Jersey City Giants named Monte Irvin. Although Joe had been too young for World War II he was of a perfect draft age for the Korean War. He was drafted in 1950 and served until around June of 1952 receiving the Medal for Valor during his service. Monte Irvin who had served in World War II had been moved up to the
N.Y. Giants while Joe was at war. Monte Irvin was later inducted into the
Baseball Hall of Fame.
~~~In 1952 he played part of the year, still with the Giants organization with a triple AAA club called the Minneapolis Millers in Minnesota . He played from 1952-1954 with this team. The Great Willie Mays was playing center field for the N.Y. Giants and Joe had no shot at taking his spot. Two teams the Cubs and Tigers offered to buy his contract from the Giants but the Giants refused to let him go sealing his fate to retirement and no shot at playing professional Baseball.
When Bobby Thompson hit his famous homerun to win the 1951 pennant capping off one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history to pass the Brooklyn Dodgers it was Known as the ‘SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD,” because of all of the servicemen listening to the game overseas. While Joe was listening to the game in Korea one can only wonder if he thought, “that may have been me.”

~~~~~~~~~hi~~~ "Let us never forget the soldiers sacrifice."

Written by:
Bob Meli
December 1, 2006