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Sandlot Baseball – Road Trips (Part 1)

April 20, 2010

Every now and then, we took road trips to Adams Park, about a 20-minute walk from The Bank’n, our home-field sandlot behind Lincoln School. There were several reasons we’d journey out from our familiar confines, the main one being that Adams Park had a real baseball field with cut grass in the outfield and a resin bag on the pitcher’s mound.

Sometimes, left-over chalk outlined the batter’s box. Traces of white stripes bordered the baselines if there had been a Legion game the night before. There were even times when we found the bases still anchored in place.

The field also featured a very tall chain link backstop about twenty feet behind the catcher. This was quite a luxury compared to the hill of weeds and rocks that served as our backstop down The Bank’n.

Though I was 10-years-old, I felt like a Major Leaguer whenever I stepped into the batter’s box at Adams. Getting to tap my bat onto a genuine home plate was new territory for me. Kicking up clouds of chalk dust on my run to first base after lining a shot over the short-stop was magical. And then, to stand on a bona-fide, canvas-covered base – that was big time.

Tracking fly balls on a level, grassy field was even better. You could follow a ball without having to take your eyes off it to scan for the occasional protruding boulder in the outfield we had come to expect at The Bank’n.

No one in our crowd had the power to crank one out of the ballpark at Adams. The best you could hope for was to smack one over the head of a kid playing too shallow for an inside-the-park homerun. I had heard that Legion guys occasionally poked them over the fence in right and that a few had even reached the high grass in left. You could forget about center field, though – the trees out there seemed miles away.

There was something eerie about those trees in deep center. Just beyond them sat an old, abandoned house. Everyone who had ever chased down a ball that rolled that far had their stories. Mikey M said he once saw a snake disappear through an open basement window. Gerry D swore he saw someone peering out from an upstairs window. Bugsie P claimed he heard a piano playing from inside the run-down dump.

The yard was littered with broken glass and moldy bed mattresses. It was a graveyard for rusty tools and bundles of yellowed newspapers. When the wind blew during the day, you could hear the loose floorboards creak. And at night, the ancient walls groaned – so they said.

It was the kind of place that gave you goose bumps, the kind of place that gave you nightmares.

It was the kind of place 10-year-old kids wanted to see…

(Part 2: Thursday)

One Comment
  1. Rich, I look forward to every one of your posts. Always a joy to read, Bill

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