February 28, 2011

Baseball in Levittown: an email from Joe Zinn, husband of Kathy Stahlman Zinn, class of 1963

click on photo to enlarge

By Joe Zinn

Can't tell you how much true joy I found in reading your February 9 blog post on baseball in Levittown. Wish I could've participated in that field of dreams. Although we had a pretty good little patch of wonderment ourselves on a dirt road outside Gainesville, FL in the late 1940s. (I'm seven years older than Kath - but that doesn't make too much difference now that I am 72 and she's 65 and we've been hitched for 43 years).

Your story brings back great memories of a very happy time. And February is the perfect time to be telling it. Spring is right around the corner and I'm hunting around trying to find where I left my baseball glove. Not that my left knee would allow me do very much in using it after I find it.

But, when I was nine through about 12 years old we'd have all the neighbor kids and ourselves (I am one of nine kids) out on the road playing a game of something almost every day, usually softball. Never got to play Little League baseball. Not sure they had it to tell you the truth. But, by the time we were raising our own kids in rural Virginia we had Little League and I soon became the parent who wound up having to coordinate all the elements of youth baseball: signing up players, assembling teams, finding coaches, updating equipment, devising schedules, preparing the fields, being sure we had umpires and enjoying watching our kids play ball.

I've become a great fan of major league baseball. Been following the Detroit Tigers since 1957 (even though living in Florida). All through the 1950s the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the World Series almost every year (except in '55 when the Dodgers finally prevailed). I wasn't avid in following MLB then (even though my granddad was a professional ball player -a catcher - and actually briefly made it to the Philadelphia Athletics) but everyone knew of this Yankee/Dodger rivalry.

In '57 when I really became interested in baseball I heard of this team out in Michigan which couldn't particularly beat any other team, but could beat the Yankees. I've been following them ever since. Couldn't resist paying attention to a team that had a shortstop who could get a base hit off a pitch-out, and a left fielder who hit a home run every Sunday and would hit two on Sunday if they were playing the Yankees. They had a kid in right who came directly off the sandlots of Baltimore as a teenager and never played a day in the minors and he wound up in the Hall of Fame.

I think you can see what excites me and why I enjoyed reading about your playing days in Levittown. Thanks for taking the time to tell us that story.


1954 Levittown Little League photo courtesy of Steve Mohr, class of 1960


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