Last Wednesday, Todd Frazier took a flight to Tokyo, where he will represent the US baseball team at the Olympics. But during his trip, he was committed to another game thousands of miles away near Trenton, New Jersey.
His nephew, Carson, 12, was on the hill and finalized Toms River East Little League’s 5-1 triumph over Sunnybrae Little League.
“It was a 15-hour flight, and he was watching the game and texting us,” Charlie Fraser Jr., Todd’s older brother and Carson’s father, told The Post.
In fact, Todd, 35, said his first thing when he arrived in Tokyo was to make sure he had internet so he could succeed the team’s phenomenal trajectory, with the World Junior League championship impressively approaching.
“That’s big. I said like five people, ‘Just send me 20 texts per role.’ I’m really excited about these guys,” Todd told The Post. He’ll also be based on the Fraziers’ group texting thread, which his wife Jackie jokingly calls “the royals.”
She lights up a lot these days.
On Friday, Carson, who also plays center field, shortstop and first base, faced Sunbury again. This time he threw the shutdown, allowing just one stroke, to advance to the state championship, which kicks off Thursday at Cherry Hill. The winner will go to the Mid-Atlantic region in Bristol, Connecticut. One-quit Paradise Boy: Little League World Series Championships in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“We were all just partying and jumping up and down,” Carson, a rising sixth-grader, told The Post following the triumph. “We’re just trying to like and triumph as many matches as conceivable and get to Williamsport.”
To quote the distinguished Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again” for the Frasier family – and Toms River East Little League.
If they go the distance, Carson will walk an intergenerational path already walked by his blindness.
In 1995, Jeff Fraser represented Toms River East at the World Classic, leaving the team with a 1-2 record. Then, in 1998, Todd and his team—known as “The Beasts of the East”—defeated their rivals from Kashima, Japan, for the championship, with Todd writing himself into lesser league tradition by making a home run.
In 1999, the organization sent another team – this team No Frasier – to the semi-finals of the World Championships and failed to repeat. But the middle-class town of Toms River entered the unused century as a hypothetical shorthand for the bravery of the little league.
“I was in Florida in an elevator and I was wearing a Toms River hat. The guy there told me his story of watching Todd Frazier at the World Championships,” said team coach Paul Mica, who is also Toms River East Little League president.
“It gives me distinguished pride.”
Even following a decade in the majors, Todd has posted many stories from fans recounting his glory days.
“I would love for people to tell you where they were watching our matches at the time, and I think that’s the most amazing part of that,” he said. They’ll say, ‘I was at this bar or that. Someone told me, “I was in the hospital and I broke my leg, but I made sure the TV was on.”
It’s been 22 years since Toms River East hit the big stage. But he is happy with Fraser leading the offensive.
“I want to do the alike thing that my uncle does,” said Carson, who watches Todd’s highlights on YouTube.
Although he also plays hoops and soccer, it was only natural that Carson would succeed the family business of baseball. His uncle Jeff was drafted by Tigers in 2004, and appeared briefly in 2010 in Big Business. His father, Charlie Jr., played for a few years in the Marlins organization. Then there’s Uncle Todd, who is nearing the end of his career which has led him to Cincinnati, Chicago and both New York clubs, where he was a fan favorite for his intensity on diamonds and hilarious club tricks.
Carson’s father runs Frazier Baseball, a training center in Toms River, where he helped shape the ups and downs of other local dignitaries such as basketball player Christopher Kartnick, whose Holbrooke team arrived at Williamsport in 2017.
Now that it’s his son’s turn, Charlie admits that he “chokes” sometimes.
Charlie Jr.: “It was average, like walking.” He said about his son’s ingenuity. “He saw the older kids in the cage and he saw Uncle Todd hitting in the cage. He started developing his swing.”
Two weeks ago, Carson, who collided with two of his teammates final season, represented the Northeast at the National Derby Home Run, heading to Kansas City, where he lost by only one.
He no longer holds the surname but has brought home a souvenir that has been turned into a group spell. Dubbed “Ice Chain” – a blue chain necklace resembling the “Swag Chain” of San Diego Padres – the player is given a claw or tournaments on the field.
Carson was awarded the Ice Series by his teammates following his powerful shooting performance in the Division 3 Finals.
But the 5-foot-6 ball player is far from the team’s only star. The squad’s roster consists of big bats, solid defense and impressive size and depth. Five players hit the county field and coach Mica described the short athlete Joey De Meow as “the best 12-year-old baseball player in the country.”
Their dominance has continued to draw comparisons to the champions of ’98 – with some distinctions.
“This team here has a lot of strength [than ’98]Charlie Frazier Sr., Todd’s father and Carson’s grandfather said. “I would say their bats are incredible right now. It’s a batting team.”
Todd, who has followed the team since its formation, agreed. “When I was that age, I was 5ft 2 1/2. These guys are big and powerful, and they have a really pleasing show.”
But they have one thing in common with the historic team. “They are sound defensively and fundamentally,” he said.
Their other strengths: friendship. Often the boys are together, regularly ride bikes around the neighborhood, swim, go out with silly dances and hit the beach.
“They are very tight. They are moving around but when they go into the field it is all about business,” said Charlie Jr. “I am so elated of these kids.”
Perhaps no one enjoys this touching cross of generations more than Charlie Sr., the patriarch of this baseball clan.
“It’s surreal to me. I have a son who is in Japan now. I got Carson going through [All Star tournaments]. …another generation is coming. I’m back at the old Little League stadium again.”
The Toms River East Little League facility now bears his final name – an honor bestowed on the “Royals” in 2012.
Before every game, said Charlie Sr. He invites his grandson to donate him a spirited talk and elicit some grandfather’s knowledge.
‘It’s not grave. I say, we’re really elated of you. Make sure you’re having a pleasing time. Play firm.’ Charlie Sr. said.
This time, the six-year-old grandfather is much older and wiser and is watching the games through a distinct lens.
“I can just sit back and relax a bit and watch the other dads go by. That’s part of being a grandfather. My wife Joanne and I look at each other like, ‘Oh, boy. Looking at [Carson’s mother] Mindy jumps up and down. And my wife, we’ve been married for 45 years, looked at me and said, “You’ve been doing the alike damn thing.” Okay. But I am 70 years old now. Yes, I calmed down. I just love enjoying watching from the background now.”
The family has a ritual of sitting outside, far from the stands – and it works.
The boys have hot bats and get a little tighter with each outing, but this tournament is lengthy and luck can turn on a dime.
“I think they have the magic of going. But they know they don’t have a free pass,” Todd said. “I think the hardest part is getting out of Jersey. You can’t take that lightly.”
If they blow up State Park and get a mooring to Bristol, the group of Fraziers on the field will grow by at fewest one.
“I’m looking forward to coming home, hoping to triumph a gold, and go to Bristol,” said Todd, who will confront Japan at the Olympics, as he did during his magical summer in 1998.
“I have a chance [beat Japan] Again, I think it will be the icing on the cake. “It will be a distinguished end to my career,” he said.
Regardless of the outcome for Todd or Carson, the Fraziers feel all the emotions watching the bats move to the next branch in the family tree.
“Cry, my wife is crying. This morning, they showed me a wish [in Tokyo] Charlie Sr. said. “What could be better for Grandpa?”