A few weeks ago a friend told me about PlayBall! Alameda’s Sandlot Blog, which chronicles the glorious tenures of kids who played Rec & Park league ball at local parks in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
My friend, a onetime “park rat” himself, told me the kids used to show up, sign themselves in and play – without the cadre of parents that is more commonplace at kids’ sporting events these days. The uniform was a T-shirt, he said.
The site’s owner, Kin Robles – an Alameda native and a Franklin Eagle himself – wrote that he learned of the lasting impacts the program had when he produced a documentary on the program back in 2003. Per Robles’ site:
I’ve coached my own kids in various sports for a lot of years, and as great as many of these programs are, none come close to offering the same type of complete experience that ARPD fostered. You can’t turn back the clock, but I wish our children had the opportunity to enjoy playing in what many recreation professionals still consider a model program. It’s a big part of why growing up in Alameda, California was so much fun.
I checked in with Robles, who said that he only told a few friends about the site but that he now hears from former Island residents who are now all over the country and are reading his site.
“I believe the success of this blog is a true testament to how positive the experience of park life was for kids during what I call the golden age of the Alameda Recreation & Park Department,” he said. “It’s still a great program but times and priorities change. I also think that during these troubled economic times many of us are looking back on happier days when there was a lot less to worry about.”
The site’s got a pretty exhaustive list of the coaches and parks, and the names of nearly 1,200 folks who played for the teams. If you were one of them, drop ’em a line (and pictures!).