Back in the 1930s, to encourage young school-age
children to become future baseball fans, at around the age of 11
or 12, we were invited to join the Newark Bears Knot Hole Gang.
I do not recall precisely how it worked, except that you bought
a ticket at your school and it was good for a specific number of
Newark Bears baseball games at Ruppert Stadium in the Ironbound.
The game dates were referred to as "Knot Hole Gang Days."
At Monmouth Street School
At my elementary school, Monmouth Street School, in the old Third
Ward, I recall that on Knot Hole Gang Days, a bus would pull up
in front of the school and transport us to and from the games.
I later learned from a baseball memorabilia ad, that the back of
your Newark Bears Knot Hold Gang membership card had cheers printed
I seem to recall that on the days I attended the Knot Hole Gang
games, that Ruppert Stadium was full of youngsters -- all boys
Three fellow Old Newarkers have written Old Newark Memories in
which they mention their Knot Hole Gang memberships. Besides myself,
there was Seymour Pierce, who lived in the old Third Ward just up
the street from me, and John Keegan, who grew up in the Ironbound.
We, all three, are 88, so I am thinking we must have been about
11 or 12 back then, so it could have been around 1932 or 1933, during
the Great Depression.
Another Old Newark Memory was written by Steven Eli Schanes also
mentions his membership in the Newark Bears Knot Hole Gang. His
"Memory" specifies 1935-1938, so he was at least several
years younger than Pierce, Keegan and myself.
Being younger, his memory is likely to be more reliable. His recollection
of the Newark Bears Knot Hole Gang mentions "I went to eight
games a year, for five cents a game, and saw all the future big
Knot Hole Was Opportunity
In the early 1930s, when most of us were from struggling or impoverished
families where money was short, the opportunity of visiting a baseball
stadium and watching a first-class professional baseball game presented
a window of opportunity for us that would otherwise have been impossible.
I know that, in that era, Seymour Pierce shined shoes near the
Lincoln Statue after school on upper Market Street. I hawked Star-Eagle
newspapers, late edition, after school just three blocks down Market
Street opposite Bamberger's.
Steven Schanes augmented his two-cents school-day allowance by
soliciting customers for the Saturday Evening Post in his Clinton
Hill neighborhood for which he earned credits toward premium awards,
usually toys or sports equipment.
His father had a piano-teaching practice and money was tight in
his family. He recalled "One day I won a $2 raffle. That was
more money than I had ever seen."
Elliot and Ira
Elliot Sudler and Ira Symkowitz, who were neighbors at 131 Bragaw
Avenue, were both "Knot Holers" in the 1937-1938 era.
The two would leave on the bus two hours early so they could enjoy
the crowds and excitement of being in a stadium with uniformed professional
Sudler recalled "I had no money, but Ira delivered newspapers
and he treated me to a ticket. It opened up a whole new world to
me, whose only world before that time was the Bragaw Avenue Playground"
Sudler is now a retired pharmacist. Symkowitz was a Newark bank
Knot-Holers Into Fans
Those Knot Hole Game days turned many of us into avid baseball
fans. A decade after attending those games, I was a sports writer
for the Newark Star-Ledger, and a Newark 'stringer' for a number
of out-of-state papers, and a news wire service.