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Sandlot Baseball – A Kid from the 30s

June 1, 2010

Tom Saunders of Ellenton, Florida, a good friend of my mother’s, was kind enough to share his early baseball memories. He grew up on the sandlots in Quincy, Massachusetts, and later played ball for Sacred Heart High School in Weymouth, as you can see in the 1947 photo on the left.    

“I can remember my days with a taped ball and bat, and oiled first baseman’s glove with twine wrapped around it to keep a good pocket during the winter. I think we all had taped balls, cracked and taped bats, and shared gloves and mitts with each other. We were not too organized but had CYO and church youth teams after our real younger days and before high school ball.”   

“One thing for sure, we played from almost dawn to dusk with time out for newspaper routes. Of special note, we always seemed to know who could play certain positions the best. We all got along AND WE DID NOT NEED COACHES or so we thought!”   

 “My first team play was at first base (1B) in the second grade at St. John’s School in 1937.   

Tom Saunders - 1937 (check out his glove)

 

The teacher, Sister Carmine, organized the team and printed our name and number on the round hard cover of a small milk bottle and attached it to our shirts. I was number 3, maybe because of 1B. Later, I thought Jimmie Foxx (number 3 of the Boston Red Sox), my favorite. His picture was always on the Wheaties cereal box. I guess I ate that cereal to be like him but I fell very short of that dream. Nevertheless, loved the game, still do, and follow all the teams. ”  

“We were a baseball family – my dad, a short stop, played high school/college ball at Holy Cross and Tufts, was a two-time All- American and managed several semi-pro teams on the South Shore and in the New England League.  In 1917, he received a contract from the Philadelphia Athletics signed by Cornelius McGillicuddy (Connie Mack) but also a draft notice to serve in World War I overseas. His grandson, my son, excelled as a pitcher in Little League, high school, American Legion and college ball. He was scouted by and had tryouts with the MLB Scouting Bureau. I grew up surrounded with baseball stories about the great Hall of Famers, my dad’s double off Babe Ruth in an exhibition game, and barnstorming as a short stop with Major Leaguers in the off-season.”  

“Baseball is a great sport where individual performance and team spirit compliment each other. Just witness the enthusiasm around home plate after a walk-off homerun.”
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5 Comments
  1. Wow, I love this story! The photos, especially the one at first base, is great. I only wish I had a single photo of either myself or my brother playing ball as a child. I took some of my own son playing ball recently. He tells everyone that baseball is his favorite sport.
    I always look forward to your blog-posts ’cause they always bring happy memories to the surface. Thank you, Bill

  2. Mike Thomas permalink

    Rich,

    I don’t know who you are – meaning whether or not you’re a famous, published writer or not. If not, you should be!!! The memories and emotions your stories have evoked in me are fabulous! I’m also a 52 year old former sandlot baseball kid. Almost everything you wrote about in all your stories (well, all that I’ve been able to read so far) I can relate to or have a connection with. It’s almost like I’m reading Earl Hamner’s, “The Walton’s” TV show scripts / stories. Or perhaps listening to Kevin Costner narrate the opening sequence to, “FIeld Of Dreams,” one of my top five favorite movies f all times!!! YOu have an ability to paint a picture in the minds’ eye – a rare skill set indeed.

    I could go on and on but I think you get the gist. Keep writing. I’ve subscribed to your blog via RSS.

    Mike Thomas

  3. Mike,
    Thanks for the kind words. No, I’m not famous – just an old sandlotter remembering a fine time in my life. If you have time, send me some of your sandlot memories. Maybe I could post them on this blog.
    Rich

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