Fire at Paramus baseball field house destroys mementos, Toys For Tots donations

It was an emotional night for a youth baseball program in North Jersey after a fire at the field house destroyed trophies, banners, equipment and even some Toys for Tots donations Sunday morning.
Paramus takes pride in its baseball program. All around town one can see reminders of a Little League team that won the state championship 10 years ago. Much of those reminders were destroyed in the fire.
“Yeah, it’s just a piece of plastic, but there are trophies that meant something to so many different people,” says Alan Brundage, treasurer of the Paramus Junior Baseball League.
They were trophies that served as motivation for a new generation.
“This is what made me want to keep going. Why every time we get to that tournament…my mindset was always like ‘We have to win. C’mon, we got this, we got this,” says 12-year-old catcher Aidan Brundage.
It is a mindset that goes back to the 1950s, and for some, it is a family tradition.
The league will fundraise and salvage what they can. The most important thing is that the players have the equipment they need for the upcoming season.
But some of the items won’t be the same.
"The kids all took a photo with a banner and they all had chocolate on their hands and we never cleaned it and it's gone, you know? They'll replace the banner but they'll never replace the chocolate,” says Jeffrey Lepselter, who played on the 1971 team.
But it is not just the baseball mementos that were lost. The field house was also storing hundreds of toys for the Toys for Tots drive in town – donations worth almost $4,000. The toys were ruined just weeks before they were scheduled to be handed out.
The community is already coming together. Toy donations have been pouring in at a nearby restaurant. Paramus has a population of around 26,000 people, but many say that it still has a small-town feel.
"We know when to get together and unite and I know they lost toys for kids that needed them and it looks like they're gonna get way more toys than they had in this room before the fire,” says Chris Dipiazza, a former player and current Paramus councilmember.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation can find more information at the Paramus Junior Baseball League Facebook page.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.