JOSEPH “JOE” ACQUARO grew up in Camden, New Jersey. He was the son of Biagio “Benny” Acquaro and the former Frances Petrella. His father had worked for the Stetson Hat Company in Philadelphia and at Sun Shoe Repair and Hat Cleaning, where he was in charge of cleaning and blocking felt hats. After his marriage, he opened his own hat cleaning business, calling it Federal Hat Cleaning, at 2314 Federal Street in East Camden, just across the street from Shellows, a well known malt and soda shop, and the hangout for local ballplayers and sport loving kids. The business was located next door to Harry Spuhler’s bar, which was known as Spuhler’s Grill in those days. In later times it was known as the Apollo.
In the late 1940s the Acquaro family, which included son Joseph and daughter Anna, was living at 2114 Berwick Street, home of the Berwick Bears, a great semipro football team of that era. In 1949, Benny Acquaro moved his business and family to his newly remodeled home and shop at 2713 Federal Street, which he had purchased from his wife’s aunt, Mary Loscalso and her husband Mike.
Joe Acquaro got his love for the game of baseball from his father, who was an avid sportsman who and loved to watch all Philadelphia sport teams, and especially baseball’s great Joe Dimaggio, when the Yankees came to town to play the Philadelphia Athletics.
Even before reaching high school, Joe Acquaro, was one of the top young ballplayers in Camden. In 1951 he won the Camden County Parks League second half batting title hitting .500, leading Camden Eastside to the league title. He continued playing in the parks, Gottschalk Twilight and American Legion Leagues. He started at third base for Woodrow Wilson High School in 1953 and 1954. The Wilson baseball team, Coached by Binney Pawlak and featuring Joe Acquaro‘s boyhood friend Sam Croge, won the Camden City Series, Group 3 and Sectional State Championship.
Joe’s love of baseball led to his long-time involvement with the Hot Stovers Baseball Club of South Jersey. Twice selected Hot Stover of the Year, Joe was inducted into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
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