Schoolboy Memories

by Philip Peck


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!


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