Imagine the street, in a Norwood neighborhood in the early forties. Boys are playing stickball , three, maybe four boys to a squad, with the use of ghostmen and "called" fields. The Reds are recent two time champs and the imagined World Series between the Reds and Indians isn't a stretch at all. Baseball is the king of sports, unchallenged in its primacy - nearly every boy with any athleticism at all imagines himself a baseball player - and the boys who aren't that gifted just imagine all the harder. It was these streets and these games, played until the sun went down and mom's were hollering for the boys to come in, that Charlie and Russ and Jackie Elledge honed their skills in. All of them remembered those games vividly all of their lives, and Charlie wrote this years later:
Our Stadium was thronged with folks:
Maples, poplars, elms and oaks,
All waving limbs and whistling boughs.
What we saw were cheering crowds!
Where homeplate was a paper plate
I'd take my hero's stance and wait
For taped up ball to hurtle in
Mighty Feller was the pitcher then!
Where Nicky waited with firstbase mitt
To try and rob me of my hit
A rock marked first, and every base -
Crosley Field we named this place!
Where the world series of the streets
Was played each day til time to eat,
And here I waited with broomstick bat -
This game to win with mighty whack!
My team was 'skins' and we were down
And dinner bells were soon to sound,
The sacks were jammed from first to third -
The cheering crowd was all I heard!
Billy Dell was on the mound,
The fastest Feller in our town!
He kicked his leg and spun and threw -
One more strike and I was through!
It seems a dream but I recall
I swung my stick and cracked that ball -
Around the bases the runners flew,
2 ghostmen and Stevie, too!
I stood to watch and savor glory,
The receding ball, a game of story
When around the corner came disaster
The game stayed tied forever after!
Returning home came Tommy's father,
He drove without a care or bother,
turning right in 'centerfield'
He caught my drive on his windshield!
The rules were clear and all agreed -
The ball was dead for Iron Steeds.
To think a Chevy caused our trouble -
My homer ruled a ground rule double!