Nostalgia was once again celebrated in the form of a classic sport.
For the 48th year, a group of pals that grew up together in Bay Ridge got back together during the Ragamuffin Parade to celebrate the 48th Annual Brooklyn Old Timers’ Stickball Game on 80th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues on Saturday, October 1.
Each year, the tradition brings back old friends that travel from near and far to play two seven-inning games of stickball. The young timers took on the old timers.
“It’s always a great time. It started out as a family and friends thing,” said manager of the young timer’s team Michael Mallett. “My father and his friends started it. It’s still the same. Families have gotten larger and groups have come and gone, but we always try to expand and invite new friends.. It’s less about wins and losses and more about getting together.”
For Mallett, it’s more than just a game. “I’m from Brooklyn, but I live in Seattle. I come back every year,” he said. “A bunch of people from the tri-state area come, but also people from Norway and Luxembourg come. If you only have one time in the year to get together, this is a great excuse to get back to the neighborhood and play in this game. People know when I take off around September, it must be the stickball game.”
This year, the young timers took bragging rights during the double header, taking the first game in blowout fashion and the second game in a nail-biter.
“The young timers showed the old timers who was boss in the first game,” he said. “We got lots of hits and were extremely fast. They kicked the ball around and we won 20-5 in the first game. During the second game, they got warmed up and gave us a run for our money. They scored six runs in the sixth inning. We won the game, 10-9.”
But for everyone that participates, the scoreboard is the last aspect of the day that matters. “It’s important to keep these games going, not only because the sport is close to being lost, but it’s a community-based game,” Mallett said. “People come to celebrate each other. It’s something we don’t want to stop, no matter how busy we get.”
Mallett’s father Lenny was one of the organizers and originals of the game who taught his son how to appreciate a sport that is less popular. “It’s great to bring attention to one of most historic street games in New York,” he said, adding that those who went to the Ragamuffin Parade stop by to watch and participate. “When they stumble upon us, they’re always surprised that happy people are doing things together that don’t involve technology. We don’t need it to hang out. People still get out play and keep tradition alive.”