Sandlot ballgames

Spectre’s post near the current end of this Halloween thread immediately made me wonder: do kids still play sandlot football and baseball?

It’s struck me often how structured the lives of my friends’ kids have become. One aspect of that structuring is the degree to which sports have become organized into jillions of leagues involving many parents. It wasn’t that way when I was a kid.

Probably from about age eight or nine up until most of us got our hands on cars, I probably participated in some kind of sandlot (not really - usually a vacant lot or a park) ballgame organized solely by us munchkins once or twice a week. Several of us played on school teams in 7th grade or later, and, while Little League existed, most did not participate.

This is not meant to be a debate about whether the way it was or the way it is is better. I find it easy to believe adult coaching that a kid gets in today’s leagues can be of long term benefit. Whether or not all those parents’ involvement is an improvement could be a debate. Not here.

But in light of the present existence of near year round scheduled practices and league games for all kinds of sports, I have to wonder if the kids still self organize for a game.

Do they? If so, I never see them.

If 16 or so unsupervised 10-14 year olds got a game going in a park, would a cop show up and shut it down?

We used to do it quite a bit when I was of that general age maybe 12 years ago or so, if this is recent enough. Usually five of us to a side.

We didn’t use a sandlot, however, in the case of baseball—no, we did it right in my friend’s front yard, and the playing area extended across the street into a similar bare yard about the same size. There was a wood fence about 150 feet away—this was the centerfield wall.

Parked in the street was his dad’s old pickup; it’s a miracle we didn’t hit it—and we used real balls. We would lose a ball every other game or so, but it was no real worry as there was a suitable supply in the garage (my friend also did Little League).

Football received a similar treatment, except we extended the playing field across the neighbors’ yards on one side of the street. Since uprights weren’t available, a touchdown simply counted as seven points. When play in both sports shifted to my backyard, we made use of a restuffed baseball cover and the swingset as uprights. We did the same thing with hockey in my driveway.

The only other time I witnessed such play was when I was passing through a local park and saw a few kids playing cricket—wickets, bat, ball and all (those Dopers who breathe cricket might imagine the local kids playing American football or something :wink: ). I guess “sandlot”-type games are declining with the exception of these two examples.

We still do! When I was in middle and high school, we’d regularly play two-hand touch in my best friend’s side yard. Our parents forbade tackle football, though the two hand touch did get a little rough sometimes. :wink: Now that we’re all in college, it’s hard to get so many people together at once unless it’s summer, and the people that show up only want to play softball, so that’s what we do. For winter sports, we play two-on-two floor hockey in the barn loft. We use a tennis ball for a puck and straw bales on the edge so that people don’t go over and balls go over less often. The floors are uneven, so rollerblades aren’t practical. Half of us can’t skate anyway, otherwise we’d be playing ice hockey, wouldn’t we? :stuck_out_tongue: This is by far my favorite “backyard” sport.