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Play Ball! Cresskill Softball Team Spans Generations

Fathers and sons on the Cresskill Maulers gather together after a recent win. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson
The Cresskill Maulers won the first game in a three game championship series Wednesday. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson
Fathers and sons play together on the Cresskill Maulers. Photo Credit: Katie Mildenberger
The Cresskill Maulers leave the field following their win. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson

CRESSKILL, N.J. – Bonding over beers at a Cresskill bar about 35 years ago, a few guys decided to start a softball team.

More than three decades later, the Maulers are still going strong -- and the team, sponsored by the Cresskill Tavern, has turned into a family affair.

Since 1982, at least nine sets of fathers and sons (and even a father and daughter) have played together on the Maulers, according to Tom Mildenberger who manages the team along with Bill Hasenstab.

Mildenberger, 64, is currently the oldest member of the team, while his son, JT, 16, is the youngest.

“I am much older than him,” Mildenberger said. “That I am still able to play with him, it’s great.”

His son, who also plays baseball for Tenafly High School, agrees.

“I started coming when I was two weeks old,” the younger Mildenberger said, while waiting for his turn at bat during a game last week at Third Street Field in Cresskill. “This is my first official year.”

On Wednesday, the Maulers were playing the first of a three game league championship series against K. Madison Carpentry (a team that also has a few father-son pairs).

The league – dubbed the Wednesday Night Men’s Softball League – is made up of eight teams, and umpires are not used. Instead, catchers make the calls. And batters only get two swings.

The Maulers are the league’s defending champions, and have won 17 championships overall.

Some fathers on the Maulers – such as Hector Olmo and Tim Fuelner – have been coaching their sons’ baseball teams for years.

“Now getting to play with him is a good thing,” Olmo said, of his son Stephen.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Bill Hasenstab, one of the players who helped start the league and team so many years ago. “Except I am getting to a point where the young kids take over. I just coach third base now, unless we’re short guys.”

Hasenstab’s son Brian, 27, who played in Wednesday’s game, said he has been coming to the field for as long as he can remember.

“It cuts across generations, to just be able to enjoy this pastime,” he said.

The Maulers won Wednesday by a score of 7-2. The next game in the championship series is Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 5:45 p.m. at Third Street Field in Cresskill.

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