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From the Vault of Art Shay: Baseball

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 13, 2011 4:00PM

Baseball came to the flowering Bronx of my boyhood via stickball played with broom handles. Yankee Stadium was only a one hour's walk away from our three sewer long stickball street and we often sneaked in to worship the Babe, Lou Gehrig and the rest of the gods, and get their autographs on our brown sandwich wrappings.

Our playing field was 173rd Street, which adjoined the world's then-most populous high school — James Monroe (pop. 15,000). Sometimes a real baseball would fly out of the adjacent high school athletic stadium, bounce on 173rd Street, and roll into our tiny backyard, where our Rumanian landlord would make wine in big barrels. Likely as not in the summer I best remember one 500 feet (plus bounces) fly ball was hit by the 17-year-old Hank Greenberg, who in a very few years would be giving some of Babe Ruth's records a run for their money.

We were the boom babies of The Great War that killed so many of our fathers by the time its madness ended in 1919. The babies who would grow up to eventually topple Hitler and Hirohito, and rebuild their messy economies. Just in time to help them build our Mercedes, Lexi and Nikons.

If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Nelson Algren's Chicago, is also available at Amazon.