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Sandlot Baseball – The Wall in Left Field

March 14, 2010

To get to the sandlot you had to descend a grassy hill behind the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Braintree, Massachusetts. The sandlot, which we called The Bank’n, was our answer to Fenway Park – without the manicure. Unlike Fenway’s trimmed, lush grounds, ours was sprinkled with tall weeds and egg-sized stones to make every ground ball a potentially perilous matter. Our “Green Monster” was a waist high cement wall in deep left field aptly dubbed, The Wall.

Euphoria was launching a baseball beyond The Wall into the towering trees for a homerun. When that happened, it was a spellbound moment. All eyes were on the lofting ball as it disappeared into the woods. We’d hear it whack an elm or birch tree followed by the sound of ripped bark falling, along with the ill-fated ball into the dense thickets of vegetation below.

The magic of the moment was short-lived, however. Ensuing searches for the ball in the rough underbrush took anywhere from one minute to one hour. And when spotted, it was usually wedged inside the thorniest briar patch imaginable.

That was the drawback of hitting homeruns in the early 1960s. If you hit it, you had to fetch it. It was a bittersweet trade-off: a minute of glory for more than a few of puncture wound agony.

No one complained, though. Truth is, we used to look up to those kids with all the cuts and scrape marks on their arms and legs. Deep down, every hitter in the neighborhood looked forward to the day they’d proudly retrieve a baseball from the nastiest briar patch in Braintree, well beyond The Wall in left field.

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One Comment
  1. Pat Tunney permalink

    Unfortunately, I did not have much experience tracking down home run balls.

    However, I did have an interesting experience playing softball in Manhattan with some coworkers from NYC. The “field” was entirely asphalt on the corner of a block.
    It was surrounded by chain link fencing that was about 15-20′ high. The ground rules were that if you hit the ball over the fence, it was an OUT and the hitter had to find the ball somewhere down the street (if you were lucky). For everyone else in the game, this was the signal for a beer break. Fortunately, I was never chasing the lost ball.

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