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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Leitz’

Every year a big box would arrive at the local park office. The contents contained a closely guarded secret that would only be revealed at the appointed hour. Anyone caught peeking inside was sentenced to a day’s banishment from the park. (Or if it was Bill Leitz, you got sandwich duty for a week – that meant the offender was sentenced to ride his bike to the P&G Delicatessen on Park Street to pick up Bill’s lunch order.) Inside the box were dozens of that season’s baseball t-shirts.

Kim Buffy and Mike Jacobs "Come on, let's peek inside the box."

Although the individual park logos had a long shelf life, every few years the park color combinations would change. I imagine Lil got a good price by ordering thousands of shirts at a time. Perhaps the decision for a color change was signaled when the supply ran out! “Shirley, the t-shirts for Woodstock and Lincoln are getting low. Time to swap their colors.” But I digress…

PlayBall! needs your continued help in trying to identify t-shirt colors associated with the parks during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Here’s what we recall:

Franklin  – Midnight blue shirt, white logo (pre-1966)

Franklin – Burgundy shirt; white logo (1966 – ?)

Krusi – Black shirt, white logo

Krusi – Navy blue shirt, white logo

McKinley – Black shirt, white logo

Rittler – Yellow shirt, black logo

Washington – Yellow shirt, black logo

Washington – Yellow shirt, blue logo

Edison – Forest green shirt, white logo

Edison – Black t-shirt, white logo

Lincoln – ?

Longfellow – ?

Godfrey – ?

Woodstock – Blue shirt, yellow logo (1968)

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR RECOLLECTIONS IN THE COMMENTS BOX! We need to know.

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ARPD Park Director

Player

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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In 1970, four Franklin Eagles moved across the island to join a band of baseball mercenaries playing in the ARPD Police League.

The combined McKinley-Godfrey entry saw Bill Leitz, Ray Ratto, Jr., Mike McCollum and Steve Chavez break away from their traditional sandlot to join a heavy hitting lineup. 

During the week of August 20, they faced off against their former Eagle teammates, and pummelled the Franklin Nine by a score of 11-2. Leading the way were the Gang of Four who each contributed two hits including a two-sacker per man. 

What were the circumstances behind this Gold Coast treason? Was this an isolated incident or was recruiting widespread in the high school circuit? Perhaps this defection was the result of being 86’d from their native park or the B&M Market. 

Stay tuned while our team of crack PlayBall! reporters comb the archives and gather witnesses for waterboard interrogation.

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