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Sandlot Baseball – A Lifelong Thirst

April 9, 2010

Playing ball on the sandlot during those hot, muggy days in July could really make you thirsty. No one carried water bottles in the early 60s. Sometimes, you’d see a kid on a bike with a Boy Scout canteen willing to give us each a swig or two. The only thing cool about the canteen was its green cloth covering which made me think of some wounded guy on the TV show, Combat, drinking from one, gulping frantically after having taken bullets for Sergeant Saunders and the rest of the squad. Other than that, I didn’t care for the experience. The water was always warm with traces of sand or bug parts.

The W brothers usually had plenty of water – in their balloons – to share. So many times when I was in the outfield, I’d watch one of the W’s sneak up behind a batter and splatter him with a bright orange water balloon. It was always funny until it happened to you.

Parched throats meant it was time for a trip to Mutzenard’s, the corner variety store at the bottom of Hobart Street. It was a 4-minute walk from the ball field; those with bikes could make it in one. Mutzenard’s was an effervescent oasis of tonic with everything from 12-cent, bottled Cokes and Orange Crush to sarsaparilla and Moxie. (We never referred to those drinks as soda pop – the term in Braintree was “tonic.”)

Mutzenard’s was a sweet-tooth haven. In addition to tonic, Mrs. Mutzenard carried drumsticks and double-wide Popsicles, Drake’s Cakes and Table Talk mini pies (13-cents), and Sky Bars and Malted Milk Balls. She had everything, really. The most popular item, though, for most of us, was a package of baseball cards with gum. For a nickel, you could get 5 or 6 cards with a thin, pink slice of bubble gum wedged inside a wax pack.

We lived for those cards. We slid them up into the rims of our hats or clothespinned them to the spokes of our bicycles. We traded a Billy Muffet for a Vic Wertz or an Earl Wilson for a Rip Repulski.

We were in the early stages of amassing the greatest collections of all-time. If only we held onto them…

Fortunately, we’ve held onto our sandlot memories. From canteens to water balloons to Red Sox baseball cards, we remember that early thirst for ballgames that time, somehow, never quenches.

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3 Comments
  1. Steve (BEANO) permalink

    On some extremely hot days upon arriving home from an all-day game at Lincoln School, sometimes we would fill balloons with water from the outside spigot. What a cool way to beat the heat. In the backyard, being pitched those water-filled balloons and hitting them as if you were going to hit a homerun, only to have that balloon explode off the bat and drench the batter with cool water. Pure FUN!

  2. Theodore Bernard “Big Klu” Ted Kluszewski!

  3. Combat! I loved that show. And Rat Patrol.

    Our ball field was about a 10 minute walk. There was a bubblah (really just a spigot). The water was, at best, lukewarm, and I don’t even want to think about the taste. But it was water and we were hot.

    I lived on Dexter St., three houses up from Primrose. The Wason-MacDonald’s Ice Cream stand was on the corner of Dexter and Primrose. And they had Black Raspberry. How cool was that!

    Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories.

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