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Sandlot Baseball – The Good Old Days

February 27, 2010

Whatever happened to the days when kids played baseball on pebble-strewn, weed-filled lots with  crushed milk cartons held in place by heavy rocks for bases? My brother and I would leave the house at 7 or 8 AM on a Saturday and come back to the house for grilled cheese sandwiches at noon. By 1PM, we’d be back to the field till supper (beans and franks). We didn’t have cell phones. We usually had one or two baseballs that were held together with black electrical tape. If we were lucky, there would be one bat that wasn’t cracked. We chose teams by “chucking up” the bat and the kid with long fingers almost always got first pick. It was common to play games that ended with scores like 64-50. It was also common for some wise guy to throw a firecracker from behind you just as you were about to swing the bat.

The good old days… Anybody remember them?

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  1. Those 60-54 games were my favorites. You always had a chance to win until it got dark.

  2. Brad, I seem to remember a few softball games as an adult with similar scores. Remember that team in Prescott that knocked off our mighty ONCE MOORE team, 20-1? Thanks to the “slaughter rule,” it might have been 60-1. And it wasn’t even near being dark… (insert Woody Woodpecker laugh here)

  3. My cousin Al and I would play catch along the side of his house. I would be Sparky Lyle and he would be Thurmon Munson. Then, after he would catch my pitch, I would be his favorite pitcher at the time. We would switch back and forth.

    • John
      Sparky Lyle was a beloved Red Sox player who jumped to the Yankees. Shame on him. As for Thurmon, always respected him – a great catcher. Wished he played for the Bosox.

  4. So true. It could have easily been 60-1. Our main problem was that we didn’t have full uniforms and matching athletic bags.

    • I know – but didn’t they also have a pre-game team chant? That was the clincher. What was ours? Yee-haw? That’s never worked for anyone…

  5. Pat Tunney permalink

    My brothers and I played alot of wiffleball in the backyard. We used one of those extra fat orange plastic bats. Instead of the softball with holes, we used a solid plastic baseball. A home run was if you could hit the ball over the telephone lines which were about 80 feet from home plate.

    I also remember the balls held together with tape. The best thing about Little League was that at the end of the season each player got one of the used game balls so that you could retire the one that was all taped up. Those taped balls were hard to throw!!!

  6. Pat,
    Loved playing whiffle ball with those oversized bats. We used to whack the ball over the roofs of houses. Sometimes, though, the balls ended up in the chimneys – it would take a few weeks of saving allowance money to buy more whiffle balls.

    You’re right about throwing the taped balls, especially when they would come undone. They’d look like spheroid kites with tails.

  7. Kathy Zach permalink

    I, too, remember playing wiffle ball in our’s and our neighbor’s adjoining (no fences) backyards. Our parents figured it was safer to use the plastic ball than a regular softball (since most of us were girls!). However, that quickly changed when we broke out their bedroom window with a foul ball.

    By the way, we girls also spelled wiffle without the “h”.

    • Kathy,
      That wiffle ball must have had some zing to it!
      As for my adding the “h” to wiffle, it must be a subconscious thing – I used to whiff a lot at the plate…

  8. Julie Bader permalink

    One of my brother-in-law’s prenuptual activities included a re-enactment of one of the sandlot games you speak of with a group of original players (also known as wedding guests). Many of these men, now 45+, brought their grown sons along to play. In case you were wondering, the Baders dominated 🙂

    • Julie,
      We did the same thing before my wedding. Seven or eight of us (55+) hit a few out in the pouring rain for my bachelor’s party. Don’t know if the Baders could have kept up with us, though…

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