Celebrating the good ole’ days, on Saturday, September 27, the 46th Annual Brooklyn Old Timers’ Stickball Game was held in conjunction with the Ragamuffin Parade. The game is set up to reunite old friends who used to live in the neighborhood and make new ones for a friendly yet competitive street game that isn’t played as much these days as it once was.
“Everyone is excited. They look forward to coming every year,” said co-founder and coordinator Peter Syrdahl. “As kids, we played every day until we were teenagers. But then we went away to college. Things happened. So then we started to make it an annual tradition and we came once a year.”
The game is divided into two teams: the older guys versus the younger guys. “This year, it’s older against oldest,” he noted.
People from around the country return to their old stomping grounds for the annual game. “I get guys from all over the place to participate. My brother came from Norway to play,” Syrdahl added. “One family came from Connecticut. Her husband was one of their co-founders of this event. He’s since deceased. We get 40 guys to show up. It is us old guys who are in our late 60s, our kids in their 30s and 40s and we even get grandkids.” And, it’s not just a guy thing. Syrdahl’s daughter also played.
Youngster Jake Laughinghouse was one of the stars of the game as he showed off his sweet swing. “It’s amazing watching him play,” said his mother Denise. “He’s a little natural. Stickball must be in his blood.” She stressed the significance of returning to historic event.
“It’s great to come back,” she said. Her father co-founded the annual game with Syrdahl. “This is my first time here since my dad passed away in 2004.”
The game wasn’t exclusive to just close friends. “Everyone is invited to play. If people walked down the street and want to take a swing, they can join the game,” said Syrdahl. “A lot of people come by and have these great memories of playing street games. Very few of them play street games today.”
Syrdahl is always excited to get the community involved for camaraderie. “I’m a sentimental guy. I don’t want to let things go. It’s a way of having my friends come together each year, to be kids again,” he said. “It’s great to see old friends and then you get to meet all these new friends.”
The game took place on 80th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues.