Little League Parades
Back in the early and mid 60’s, Sports was a big part of many kids lives growing up in Southwest Baltimore. The Catholic kids that went to St. Benedict’s had C.Y.O. leagues in baseball and football, while many others participated in little league baseball down at Gwynns Falls Park. I participated with the little league during that time, playing with the little guys for two years, and the not quite as little guys for another two years. Each year would start off with a parade that gathered up at what was then school 294 up at Hollins Street, would then meander down I believe Payson Street to Wilkens Avenue, down to Gwynns Falls Park. They would stop the traffic on Wilkens Avenue as all of us kids would make the slow walk down to the Park. It was quite the show back then. Girls with batons and some music.
The parade was just the beginning of what turned out to be an all day event, as all the teams played a couple innings of baseball and there were vendors selling hot dogs, sodas and such. One thing that really sticks out in my mind is that usually there was a ballplayer from the Baltimore Orioles baseball team that would ride along in a car and on least a couple of occasions it was Brooks Robinson. I don’t remember how he managed it but I recall that Brooks would stick around through the course of the day and I remember going down to Ash Sales at Westside Shopping Center and getting an autograph in the evening. Another story that was told to me by my brother is that his sister in law was over at a Goodwill store on York Road looking at some books when she glanced over and there was Brooks Robinson stacking books! I’m sure she was someone shocked but managed to ask for his autograph, which he obliged with a “sure hon”. Brooks Robinson is the favorite of many baseball and Baltimore Oriole fans, and with good reason, he was a genuinely nice person, willingly giving of his time. I know the memory of Brooks taking time to be a part of our humble parade was a thrill for all of us involved.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been little league baseball down at the park for many years as the diamonds have given way to grass and pick up football games, but there was a time when the park was full of activity of little kids… with dreams of becoming big leaguers.
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