1910 Census shows Rocco Gimello living with his mother Margaret and
step-father Joseph Angelastro at 306 Spruce
Street. Also at home were
brothers John, Leonardo, and James Gimello, another child having died.
Rocco, the oldest son worked as a laborer doing odd jobs.
Rocco Gimello registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 he was living at
Street in Camden, New Jersey, where he was employed as a
laborer at the Victor Talking Machine Company factory. It is interesting
in that the registrar recorded his name as Geamello, but Rocco SIGNED
his name Jeamello.
Gimello was enlisted into the United States Army on August 27, 1917 at
Sea Girt, New Jersey. He was assigned to Company G, 114th Infantry
Regiment, 29th Infantry Division and received training at Fort Dix, New
Jersey and Camp McClellan at Anniston, Alabama. He went to France with
his unit and was in combat in the Haute Alsace-Lorraine sector and the
Meuse-Argonne sector from July through September of 1918, during which
time he was engaged in five battles, and reached rank of Private First
Class. PFC Gimello was honorably discharged at Fort Dix, New Jersey in
May of 1919.
to Camden, Rocco Gimello took up residence with his brother John at 311
Chestnut Street, where he stayed for a few years, Also at that address
was John's wife and children and a brother, Leonard Gimello. When the
Census was taken in January of 1920 Rocco Gimello was working as a
laborer in one of Camden's many shipyards. He also became active
politically as a Democrat.
Gimello married his wife Catherine around 1924. By April of 1930 the
family, which included son William and daughter Margaret, had moved to
270 Mount Vernon
Street, where they still resided in the spring of 1942
when he registered for the draft. The 1930 census and 1942 draft records
show him working with the Water Department of the City of Camden.
Jersey baseball fans often recall some of the strong Camden City League
baseball teams of the 30s and 40s. Rocco “Rox” Gimello molded some
of the area’s best into a dynasty which lasted for more than a decade.
Collegians dominated the city league from 1934 through 1937 winning four
consecutive championships in a league that boasted many former and
future minor and major league players. Al
Bill Narleski, Walt Nowak, Paul
Bearint, Hank Frett, Dick Errickson, Jim
McQueston, Williard Bisbing, Billy Denof, Tom McLaughlin, Norm Selby,
Eddie Novak, Mike and Nick Curcio were names familiar to any baseball
fan in the tri-state area.
Second World War left many teams short of talent but the Collegians, who
were sharing their players with the Eastern Pennsylvania League, began
taking on some of the strongest of the Negro National League teams in
exhibition matches, beating the Homestead Grays with Cool Papa Bell,
Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige. Highlight of one match was Hank Frett
striking out Josh Gibson 3 times. The Baltimore Elite Giants, St. Louis
Stars, Newark Eagles and Georgia Crackers were among some of the clubs
passing through the Delaware Valley who also felt the sting of defeat at
the hands of Gimello’s Collegians.
was instrumental in having lights installed at the Broadway and
Street field in South Camden and opened the new era of night baseball in June
1946. Many of Gimello’s players went on to play for several years on
other Delaware Valley teams. He would be most proud of the dozen or more
players who preceded him into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.
Gimello retired from managing after the 1947 season, turning the reins
over to team captain, John Salvatore. At that time he and wife Catherine
were still living at 270 Mount Vernon
Street. He was then working as a mechanic. He stayed involved in
sports as business manager of the Zuni
Athletic Association football team in the late 1940s.
moved to 5026 Garden Avenue in Pennsauken NJ in the 1960s before passing
away on September 21, 1976. He survived
by his wife Catherine, who died in May of 1990, his daughter Margaret
L., and his son William
"Rox" Gimello was inducted into the South
Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame on November 29, 2003.