I always smile broadly when I catch a newspaper
article relating a skirmish between parents over their offspring
not getting enough playing time in their little league game.
Depending on the season, we would get home from school, change
into "other" clothes and sneakers, always. We would pick up our
glove, bat and ball (if you had one) and head for a buddy's house,
collect him, repeat this until "your team" arrived at Pacific Oval.
This was located on the corner of South and Pacific Sts. An early
low cost housing project stands there now.
No parents were there to tell us how to "hit to right" or "lay
down a bunt' or "wait for a fat one". WE KNEW ALL THOSE THINGS!
The rocks and glass on the ground did not keep us from sliding into
a base. In the fall it was the guy with the football that started
the trek to the field. Same field. Same rocks and glass. But that
didn't stop us from playing tackle football.
We would advertise (free of charge) in the Ledger or the Newark
News or the Star Eagle for teams of like age to play us on a weekend.
If necessary, we would play on our "home" field, Pacific Oval or
go to their field, if they had one. Or would arrange for a neutral
field, like Weequahic Park.
In the winter we would "practice" in South St. playground so that
we could advertise to play basketball at their court. We didn't
have one! And then we were back to our favorite game again, baseball.
And today, if you watch a little league game, the participants
look they are from outer space, with all the equipment they MUST
wear, in order to play. We had sneakers, for all seasons! We played
every day, from after school 'til dark.
Those were great days!