Lost art of pick-up games

A smile comes across my face each time I drive by the Clark family’s home in our neighborhood and a game of some sort is going on in their wide front yard.

What was an almost daily routine in my youth is a rarity now — pick-up games.

Richard Collison had the best yard for football — though we would play in a cow pasture, on a gravel road and even in a cemetery if needed.

Baseball rules were adjusted according to the number of players and the less than diamond-shaped “fields” available to us.

Catching a pop fly is easy. Getting your glove on it coming through the limbs of a post oak tree is more challenging.

In our front yard a hit past the oak tree that bounced into the ditch was a double. To the ditch on the fly was a homer. We had no triples.

Pick-up games required nothing more than minimal equipment, virtually any space available to us and an eagerness to compete.

We didn’t need coaches, uniforms, umpires, organized practices, schedules, team moms, a specified number of players, permission forms, rulebooks or cheering crowds. And our mommies didn’t even have our names applied to the rear windows of their station wagons.

We just loved to play.

In his 1997 autobiography, Field of Hope, former major leaguer Brett Butler remembered such days from his youth.

“Playing in uniform with our [Little League] teams every few days was just the icing on the cake,” he wrote. “…You could come to the plate as many times in one day as you did in a whole Little League season.”

The spring-like weather we are having in Central Georgia this week compels me to say: “Come on kids. Get off the computer and get outside. We’ll call you in just before dark.”


  1. That is a great post John. Brought back lots of memories from my childhood. The Trexlers lived next to us and they had a huge yard that all the neighborhood kids played baseball and football in. When Mr. Trexler died, his will left a certain amount of money to build the neighborhood sandlot baseball players a field complete with a backstop and everything else. It was still a converted cow pasture. But we thought it was Yankee Stadium! Those were great times and wonderful memories from my childhood. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Glenn-
    What a wonderful gift. Others should consider such in their estate planning. That is, if you can find enough kids to enjoy it with all the hoopla.

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