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Location: Greenpoint USA

Saturday, October 09, 2004

TD Marlo remembers The Greenpoint Little League

My pop gave me the bunt sign even though the bases were loaded. I knew that he knew nothing about baseball, or any sports for that matter - the only reason that he took the job as manager of Mickeys Toyland was because Mister Goddard quit under the pressure of all the parents complaining about how he would only play the good kids, and put us scrubs in for the minimum 2 1/2 innings. Now my pop was at the helm giving me the bunt sign with the bases loaded - we were doomed!

So we don't see the old Mickey's Toyland, Leviton, or McCallisters Electric, teams strutting their cool high sock look anymore at the Little League. And I sure do miss the flavor of that ice cold Kirsch club soda and a knish after a tough game against the likes of Stobierski's and their Konzelman brothers. I didn't know it at the time but for a while, the coffee that was served at the Little League was donated from a worker at the old Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, where his donation was collected "after hours style" with the old slight of hand "swag" move.

And then there was the time when King & His Court, sort of the Harlem Globe Trotters of softball, came to town and graced the "majors" field with their moves. "Pop Moss" worked real hard prepping the field for that event. But even Pop Moss couldn't get rid of the "Diamond Needles" (dragon fly's) out in left field. Even the "scar brothers" and Danny the ump (now Danny the PostMan), re-consulted their umpire rules and regulations book before the big King and His court game that special season. No chance of calling the game for darkness that day.

We bought our gloves at Triangle on Grand Street, juiced them up and tied a ball inside to ready them for play. We creased our hat in the middle for the cool look, and the tighter and higher you could get your baseball socks made the look even smoother. You had to be smooth lookin' for the girls playing volleyball past the outfield fence of the "minors" field - that was years before they got to join us in the dugout.

Early rise for the big parade all the way down from Manhattan Avenue to the white lined field of the Little League on Vandervoort Avenue. It was the only time of the season when they painted the base lines and installed the public address system. We even got to sing the National Anthem on opening day.

Little League was all about fun. I suppose that's why during one game when we were losing 31 to 2 in the 3rd inning, my pop walked out onto the field, waved the team in - called time out - and informed the ump that "we quit". The umpire was totally confused, and even accused my pop of setting a bad example for the kids - teaching us to be "quitters". Pop insisted that we had already learned a good lesson about humiliation (he could probably tell by the way a few of us were crying in the outfield for the last hour) - he then bought all of us soda and knish's as if we just won the game.

Being a "big kid", I also learned the humility of being the only one in the league to have to wear a different looking uniform. I was the only kid to sport "old league" pin stripes. Like it wasn't bad enough that when I walked out to the pitchers mound and had to hear the other teams entire dug out roster sing "..I feel the earth move under my feet...." But when everyone realized that my uniform was once worn by one of the biggest home run hitters in Little League history - they called him "Legs" - and after I whacked a few long ones out into the T-shirt field, I was once again in pretty good standings with my peers. Hanging out "on the block" after the game in my very unique Greenpoint Pointers uniform made me very proud - although it was probably a foolish move to not have removed my rubber cleats while hanging out on the block.

By the way - Turns out that pop's stradegy to bunt with the bases loaded took everyone by surprise - especially that Joe Harrigan manager guy and his big time winners, Rite Beer and their big yellow patches. My bunt turned into an inside the park Grand Slam, game winner! Welcome to The Greenpoint Little League.