Archive for the ‘Park Rats’ Category

PlayBall! – Alameda’s Sandlot Blog extends a big hug to all the current and former Alameda mothers out there! You were the well-oiled machine that enabled thousands of us park rats to flock to our respective parks each day.


Mrs. Joan Henderson cheers on her lil' park rat Charlie on a summer day, some 40 years ago.

Mrs. Joan Henderson (right) cheers on her lil’ park rat Charlie on a summer day, some 40 years ago.


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Jackie Robinson needs no introduction to the readers of PlayBall! Alameda’s Sandlot Blog. Number 42 will always have a place of honor in the hallowed Park Rat Hall of Fame.

Young Jackie Robinson as an 18 year old shortstop for Pasadena Junior College

Young Jackie Robinson as an 18 year old shortstop for Pasadena Junior College

Thank you, Jack. Alameda Park Rats everywhere salute you!


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Recently added to the hallowed halls of all-time park ratdom:

Steve Glynn (Edison Indians)

Ray Hearne (McKinley Bears)

Kevin Pilloff (Rittler Wildcats)

Harold Silva (Lincoln Lions)

Jim Stucky (Lincoln Lions)

Dan Tyler (Lincoln Lions)

Ray Valerio (McKinley Bears)

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PlayBall! is sad to learn of the passing of one of our own. Curtell Motton, former park rat and outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, headed for home one last time on Thursday, January 21, following a yearlong battle with cancer.

Curt played on the Alameda sandlots with other legendary Encinal High School heroes, Willie Stargell and Tommy Harper. Motton would go on to play for the University of California at Berkeley and was signed by the Chicago Cubs in the 1961 amateur draft. The next year he was drafted by the O’s in whose organization Motton would spend the next nine years.

Called up to the Show in 1967, Curt would compete for playing time in the Birds all-star outfield consisting of Paul Blair, Don Buford, and future Hall Of Famer, Frank Robinson. He would also play for the Milwaukee Brewers and California Angels during his eight years in the majors (1967-74).

Motton’s best season was 1969 when he hit .303 during the regular schedule, and .500 in his first American League Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins. He would also appear in the World Series that same year against eventual World Champions… the Amazin’ Mets. Curt saw post season action again with Baltimore in 1971 and 1974, returning home in both to play against the Oakland A’s.

So long, Curt! Thanks for the memories.

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This photo, from a Midget League game in 1972, prominently features three individuals who’s names should be familiar to many who participated in the ARPD programs during the decade.

Photo: Bordanaro and Zarcone)

We had a number of contestants all trying to correctly identify our mystery mugs. No one person was able to come up with all three names, however, Tony Reid (Franklin), Gary Silverman (Godfrey) and John Canalin (Longfellow) have teamed up to put a name to each physique.

Charging down the first base line is Morris Bonadona of the Godfrey Gophers. Leaning for the throw is Jamie Hayame of the McKinley Bears. And preparing to make the call is stalwart ARPD umpire, Mike Benesh, who would go on to star as a backstop for the Encinal Jets. Few know that “Ben” was also an ice hockey player in the local rec leagues.

The two questions that remain are: 1) Did Mo beat the throw? (Hmm. Doubtful, unless jamie muffed the play.); 2) How will Tony, Gary and John share this week’s prize of one pair of athletic tube socks? (Suggestion: Tony gets them on Sunday/Monday. Jamie on Tuesday/Wednesday. John on Thursday/Friday. They get washed by Doris Sullivan down at Woodstock on Saturday.) Thanks to everyone who posted an entry.

This week’s Who Are We? Quiz was brought to you by Alameda’s emporium for unparalleled value and savings, the Super 88 Store.

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Bob prepares to drive one over the rose covered fence in left

While growing up, Bob and Tom Wondolleck could see the playground at Franklin Park from their Gold Coast home located one block away at the corner of Grand St. and San Antonio Avenue (see below). Their sister, Julie, worked for the ARPD in the mid-1970’s as a leader in the camp program.


The view of Franklin from the Wondolleck's front yard

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Brian Cary was not just a Franklin Eagle player, he was also a dedicated park rat who, like many other kids that grew up in the ARPD program, also gave back to the community as he grew older.

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

Photo credit: Bordanaro and Zarcone

Brian, shown here while umpiring a Bantam League game in 1970, grew up on San Jose Ave. just a Stargell home run away from Franklin Park. Most summer days he climbed aboard his red Murray bicycle with the high handlebars to make the short trip to the park. He played for the Eagles throughout his park career and was a graduate of the Sam Spear School of Umpiring enabling him to earn money calling park league games.

Later during high school, Brian applied his diamond skills playing varsity baseball for St. Joseph’s High School. During that time he was also a leader in the ARPD camp program (Hidden Cove, Trails End, Primitive Pack Trips). While attending College of Alameda, Cary once again went to work for the ARPD as a park director (Buena Vista and Godfrey) before ultimately joining the Alameda Police Department where he retired as sergeant a few years ago after a long career.

Today, Brian is in charge of security operations for Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. Like some other park rats, he traded in his Louisville Slugger for a fishing pole, and now lives in the Sierras with his wife Paula (another native Alamedan).

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