Mendel Letters 22: Sedgwick Little League
I need to forgive you for this one.
As a kid I really loved to play baseball and the Sedgwick Little League that was started in 1959. In three years I moved from the farm team to the minors to the majors when I was eleven where I batted .357, mostly playing third base. My friends Richie, Bobbie, Freddie, Frankie, and Georgie and most of the boys on Jesup Avenue were all part of the league. On Bronx Day we got to proudly wear our baseball uniforms to school at PS 104 in the morning and were all excused to attend a Yankee game that afternoon. In 1961 I won the lottery (team 6, uniform 5) and was one of two league representatives to visit the Yankee dugout and go out on the field for Bill Skowron Day. We each got an autographed team baseball (Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Whitey Ford, etc) that was later ruined because we played ball with it.
My dream was to be a shortstop for the Yankees and I used to practice fielding grounders by throwing a rubber ball against a rock wall so that it bounced back at odd angles. Don’t worry, it never was going to happen. I had a good eye for a fastball, but in street and schoolyard games my “friends” soon realized I couldn’t adjust to the off-speed pitch, I swung at the pitcher’s motion, and my career went down in flames.
Before the 1962 baseball season they raised the league registration fee from $5 to $25, which would have meant $50 for the two of us. My younger brother really didn’t care about being in the Little League or about baseball, but they were my favorite things. You couldn’t afford the $50. I pleaded that you could just let me play and didn’t have to register him, but you said no. I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t work because you needed me to take care of him. I was angry for a long time and he bore the brunt of my anger, so I guess I need to apologize to both of you.
PS: I’m still a big Yankee fan and can hardly wait for the season to start.
Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.