Archive for July, 2009

ARPD Park Director


Bill is another fine example of a kid who grew up in the Alameda park system and went on to give back to his community. Bill was an outstanding athlete in the park programs. He also captained a St. Joseph’s High School basketball squad that won the C.A.L. title and went on to play in the prestigious C.I.F. Tournament of Champions at the Oakland Coliseum.

While attending college, Leitz took the natural path of a dedicated park rat by joining the ranks of the ARPD park directors. In his time with the ARPD, Bill excelled at mentoring kids. He used his intelligence, razor sharp wit and commanding presence to connect with his park charges. For some he was a cool big brother with the big sideburns. For others he acted as a surrogate parent. For all he was the chief arbitrator, judge and jury. Woe to anyone who trangressed the written and unwritten laws of the park. Bill took kids to the movies and paid their way if they had no money. He introduced Bill’s Tales of Action and Adventure, an informal program during which he read the works of J.R.R. Tolkien to groups of kids who’s only interest in books up to that point was a scorebook. Bill and a fellow PD, Jim Curran, also created the Alameda TGWAR League. (If you want to know what that is buy the PlayBall! DVD)

Not surprisingly, after college Bill entered the police academy and began a successful career with the Alameda Police Department where he eventually retired as a captain. Bill married another former park rat, Maureen Johnson (Rittler), and raised a family on the Island.

Tours of Duty: Godfrey Park (1973), Krusi Park (1974)

Captain Bill in 1973

Captain Bill in 1973


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Gopher Big Bat

The July 27, 1970 edition of the Alameda Times Star’s weekly baseball supplement, Play Ball, declared Mark Regan the ARPD’s Midget League Player of the Week.

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

The one-paragraph article describing Regan’s heroics went on to read as follows: “Mark was the deciding factor in the Godfrey Gophers’ successful staving off of an upset-minded Woodstock Seal team and preserving their undefeated season mark. Going 2 for 4 at the plate, Mark produced a double and a grand slam homer while personally scoring seven times. With the Gophers leading in the sixth inning by a lone run 10-9, Mark totaled a pitch with the bases loaded and put Woodstock in a five-run hole with only one at bat left. Mark is currently batting at a .444 clip in Midget competition and is credited by Godfrey playground director Mel Arnerich as being one of the main reasons why his Midgets are leading the league. Mark is a fifth-grader at St. Philip Neri and both bats and throws left-handedly.”

Let’s did deeper into those numbers. Mark scored SEVEN RUNS?! We must conclude that Regan actually got to the plate seven times. In addition to his two hits in four official plate appearances, we can assume he also drew three base on balls and took advantage of two fielder’s choice plays or errors.

Nice work, Mr. Regan.

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McKinley coach Bobby Ratto has his game face on as do some of his Midget League Bears. Appearing in this photo from left to right are: umpire Gil Navarro, Ratto, Pat Hanecak (with catcher gear on), George Hashimoto, Sean Williams (Franklin Eagles), and Mike Adkins. In the background is Mike Pola (Franklin).

Photo credit: Acamar

Photo credit: Acamar

On this July afternoon in 1975, the Bears were victorious and remained unbeaten by handing the Eagles a lopsided 16-1 defeat. The winning pitcher was Earl Johnson. Taking the “L” was Williams. Franklin’s lone run came off a second inning home run by catcher Steve Huey.

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Growing up in Alameda’s park system was far more than just baseball and athletics. There were many Alameda Recreation and Park Department programs throughout the summer that fostered a strong sense of community. One such activity was Family Night at your neighborhood park.

On the afternoon of the event, a white City of Alameda truck would drive into the park delivering folding tables and chairs. By 6:00 pm, the smell of BBQs at work would start to start to permeate the neighborhood.  Moms would spread blankets and table cloths to display bowls and containers filled with all kinds of delectable goodies. Tubs of iced Shasta and Cragmont sodas would appear. No one ever went hungry at these affairs.

The sound of static crackled over of the portable PA system as various announcements would begin the official portion of the evening. Sometimes there was music and other entertainment. Always there was the sound of kids and families having fun.

Family Night at Longfellow Park - 1972 (Photo courtesy of the Canalin family)

Family Night at Longfellow Park - 1972 (Photo courtesy of the Canalin family)

Mrs. Canalin shares the goodies at Longfellow Park Family Night 1974

Mrs. Canalin shares the goodies at Family Night - 1974

“I distinctly remember that Longfellow Park Family Night in 1972. My dad brought with him a friend who was part of the night’s entertainment. He proclaimed to be the actual voice of Donald Duck, and proceeded to chat with the kids in “character.” Me, Phil, and John were a bit skeptical. Maybe it was just us, but we never heard Donald Duck with a Filipino accent….”

Ed Canalin

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Bobcat pitcher Paul Goode strides towards the plate in this battle for Rittler Park bragging rights.

Photo by Acamar

Photo by Acamar

Heading into this game between crosspark rivals, the Rittler Bobcats were 1-2, while their Little Coast League opponents, the Rittler Wildcats, sported a 2-1 record.

On the next pitch, first base coach Dennis DiFabio will send Wildcat runner Jack Russi (both shown here) in an attempted steal. Not only will Russi be successful taking second base, he’ll also nab third base and home! It seems fitting on the weekend when all-time stolen base king Rickey Henderson is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, that PlayBall! – Alameda’s Sandlot Blog should commemorate Jack’s 1975 accomplishment on the base paths.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Russi’s feat was the lone bright spot as the Bobcats prevailed in the game by a score of 7-3. Goode would notch the win and seven strikeouts. Also shown in this photo is Bobcat first baseman Sofronio Dulay who had a huge day at the plate. Dulay went 4-for-4, smashing a double and two triples with five RBIs.

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Pay no attention to the batter in this photo from 1979, or the fact that he’s stepping on home plate during his bunt attempt. Focus on the pitcher. Who Am I?

That’s Edison Indian pitcher Erik Schullstrom displaying form that would eventually land him in a major league uniform. PlayBall! will feature more on Erik in an upcoming Park Rat Pros posting. By the way, we still haven’t identified his battery mate  and I don’t think it’s Butch Metzger.

Unfortunately, or fortunately for this week’s Who Am I? Challenge sponsor Morris Landy Ford, only one entry was submitted. Ms. Angela Guidi of Chico, CA, sent along her incorrect guess of Dontrelle Willis. Our Grand Prize of a Ford Pinto Station Wagon from Who Am I? sponsor Morris Landy Ford on Park Street will just have to wait for another day. Sorry, Angie, but thanks for playing.

Game at Krusi

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You’re getting sleepy. You’re eye lids are heavy. Let your mind drift off into a deeeeeep sleeeeeeeeep.

When I snap my fingers you’re a pack rat again.


You woke up before anyone else in the house. You’ve eaten your CoCo Puffs and put on your park t-shirt. Now get on your Schwinn StingRay and ride down to the park.

Peddle faster to dodge that stream of water coming from the sprinkler hitting the walkway entrance to the park.

You can’t see a park director around so you keep riding your bike through the park toward the office.

Hey, wait a minute! There’s no other bikes in the rack. There’s still puddles of dew on the metal ping pong table.

What’s going on? The office door isn’t open yet.

But it’s a Thursday in July! Where’s everyone at?

Oops… it’s only 7:00 a.m.

The office at Krusi Park

An early morning at Krusi Park

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