A Brief History of the Topsfield Athletic Association
America’s Pastime—baseball—played a central role in the life of Topsfield well before the founding of the Topsfield Athletic Association (TAA) in 1950.
Adult baseball was the main recreational attraction in town and, as early as the late 1800s, the Topsfield Tories fielded spirited teams and played on the Town Common. That field was replaced in the early 1930’s by a diamond located at the nearby Proctor School.
In the 1920s, the Topsfield-Boxford Tories entered the Essex County League (ECL) and later played in the Inter-Town Twilight League (ITL), competing against teams from Beverly Farms, Essex, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester and Rowley.
In the mid 1930s, the Tories were coached and managed by Armadeo (Army) Giovannacci for more than 25 years prior to his passing in 1950. (In 1956, a Little League field at the Topsfield Fair was named in his honor.) Army’s son, Warren (Ditty) carried on the family tradition and managed the adult Tories for many years to follow.
A small group of parents in 1950 saw the need to expand organized sports activities for the town’s youth and began its work by establishing a Little League baseball team. In its early years the team played intra-squad games and practice games against teams from nearby towns before receiving a franchise to become an official team of Little League Baseball in 1956.
Until 1960, the TAA included youth from Boxford, but in that year, with the assistance of a grant from the TAA, Boxford formed its own athletic association.
Topsfield, like most suburban communities in the 1960s, experienced rapid growth, which led the TAA to dramatically expand sports opportunities for the town’s youth. This included accelerated baseball activity (a Pony League and a number of Little League teams) and the inauguration of basketball and hockey programs.
In 1960, a father-son sports night was held and the TAA was a key participant in the Diamond Dance (held at Salem Country Club) to raise funds for the ITL. The TAA also provided the funds for the construction of swimming facilities at Hood’s Pond.
In the years to follow, the growth of sports teams and opportunities for the boys and girls and adults of Topsfield has been steady and impressive, including programs in tennis, soccer, track, touch football and softball.
Other milestones include the initiation of the TAA’s own annual fund drive and fund-raising gala, and cooperative programming with the Recreation and Park Departments and with Topsfield and Masconomet Regional School Committees.
Despite the tremendous growth in athletic activities and participants, the association continues to operate--as it always has—as a totally volunteer organization with no financial burden on the Topsfield taxpayer.
Founders’ Wall of Honor
(Although it is very difficult to compile a complete list of the many key volunteers who gave generously of their time and resources to establish and grow the Topsfield Athletic Association, the following individuals are recognized with gratitude and respect. Additions are always welcome!)
Belman Carter, Sr.
Elbridge (Gilly) Gilford
Armedeo (Army) Giovannacci
Warren (Ditty) Giovannacci
Paul Lynch, Sr.
Warren Rockwell, Sr.
Steve Tierney, Sr.
Philip L. Rockwell