Once again, Bay Ridge hosted some old school, competitive fun.
The 49th annual Brooklyn Old Timers’ Stickball Game took place once again the same day as the Ragamuffin Parade on Saturday, October 14.
The beloved tradition, held on 80th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, brought back not only good, old-fashioned fun, and more than a dose of nostalgia, it also was the occasion for fond reunions, which meant a lot to the nearly 50 people that either participated or watched the highly competitive games.
“It was terrific,” said coordinator for the games and long-time Bay Ridgeite Peter Syrdahl, also know as Stickball Pete. “We had an excellent turnout. I’d say we had 35 or so active players, young men in their 30s and 40s mostly. There were just a few of us old timers that played. But the weather was great and so were the games.”
There were also plenty of onlookers rooting for each team. “There were 15 to 20 ‘stoop sitters’ as I call them, who are supporters and cheer us on and compete for the Stoop Sitter Award and who the best sideline support,” Syrdahl said, noting that people now living in several different states came back for the event. “It’s friends and families, sons with their friends and people that came from far away. A young man who never been here before but was a son of one of the guys came from Dallas. He won the Home Plate Award for the guy that came the furthest to play the game.”
Syrdahl, who is 71 and is the only one from the original group that still lives in Bay Ridge, is happy to see the younger players participate.
“The other guys in their 30s and 40s love it,” he said. “Some have never played stickball before. Others knew and loved it and want to come back each year.”
As for the games, the ‘Old Old Timers’ shocked the ‘Younger Old Timers’ and won 11-10 in seven innings. The Younger Old Timers got their revenge in the next two games, winning 10-5, then 7-6 in three innings. “There was a lot of activity, good play and good arguments,” Syrdahl said. “They call me the commissioner. I try to resolve disputes the best I can. I don’t play anymore.”
Councilmember Vincent Gentile showed up as well as former Councilmember Sal Albanese, now a mayoral candidate, to take a few swings and show their support.
The tradition means a lot for everyone involved. “When we started 49 years ago, four of us lived on the block and the rest of us hung out on the block. That’s why we are there,” Syrdahl said. “The night before, we go to Skinflints. That’s where we always used to go. It’s great to get that camaraderie back. My friends have gotten together for almost 49 years and lots don’t even live anywhere near here. They come here to see the old crowd and it’s wonderful when we come together. The young crowd loves seeing that we are friends for life, and they make new friends and become friends with us too.”