Letter to the Editor: T-shirt league is back

Letter to the Editor: T-shirt league is back

Letters to the Editor
Vida Blue

Vida Blue with a young T-shirt league player Mark Jordan, in 1975. Photo courtesy of Kin Robles.

Dear Editor,

Ask any Baby Boomer about their fondest memories of growing up in Alameda, and the conversation will inevitably turn to playing baseball in the old "T-shirt" league. For many Alamedans the experiences and life lessons they gained playing in the Recreation and Parks Department program helped shape the person they are today. In fact, 40 years later many former players still consider themselves Franklin Eagles or Krusi Colts - it's an integral part of who they are. The league was chronicled in Kin Robles' excellent documentary "Play Ball," and on his website.

We're pleased to announce the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department's Summer Baseball Program (the T-shirt league) is back! Play will begin in late June, just three short months from now. Five parks (Tillman, Bayport, Franklin, Lincoln and Washington) will field teams in three age groups (kindergarten to first grade, second to third, and fourth to fifth). The league will be open to boys and girls, and there will be no cost to participate. Equipment (and team T-shirts!) will also be provided free of charge.

Over the past nine months, a dedicated group of Alamedans (Lil Arnerich, Kin Robles, Eric Cross, Adrienne Alexander, Cindi LaCroix, John Costello, Kyle Conner, Kevin Kearney, Bill Sonneman, and myself) have worked with Rec & Parks director Amy Wooldridge and program director Patrick Russi to recreate the program. The Alameda Elks Lodge #1015 has generously stepped up to sponsor the program, just as they did for the original T-shirt league. The Alameda Friends of the Parks Foundation has partnered with us to handle all donations.

The Elks sponsorship will cover a portion of the cost of running the Summer Baseball Program; the rest of the funding will be raised at the First Pitch Benefit Party event this Thursday, March 20 at the historic Alameda Theatre. The theater has graciously donated use of the facility, and all proceeds from the event will go to the league.

Tickets for the event can be purchased via the theater website. Among the VIP guests will be Cy Young award-winning pitcher Vida Blue, former major league pitcher and Alameda resident Erik Schullstrom, sports TV/radio personality "Alameda Sam" Spear, and KCBS sports anchor Steve Bitker.

General admission tickets ($10, 7 p.m. start) include access to the First Pitch event, with a screening of select parts of the "Play Ball" documentary, comments from Vida Blue and Sam Spear, and fantastic raffle prizes. VIP tickets ($50, 6 p.m. start) include pre-event food and drinks in the theater mezzanine, and a chance to mingle with VIP guests.

Please join us for an incredible night as we relive the memories of the original T-shirt league and support the launch of the new league!

If you are unable to attend, you can support the program by directing contributions to Friends of the Parks, 2226 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda, Calif. 94501. Write "T-shirt league" on the memo line of your check.

Kevin Kennedy

Editor's note: Our 2013 story about plans to resurrect the T-shirt league is here.