by Jesse Marrero
I'd wake up early on a Saturday morning to my friends calling my name 10 floors below on 1270 Webster Avenue on 169th street to play baseball in the parking lot behind the building. After jumping out of my sofa bed in the living room, I would get dressed, wash up and run out the door before moms would yell "YOU GOTTA EAT SONTING!"
We chose teams by tossing the bat in the air and then you know the rest: fist, finger, pinky, fist, fist, finger, no sky rockets, I win. Kawan and I were the best players so we were automatic captains. My first pick? Jermaine. Kawan picked white Marquel (light-skinned) and I'd pick black Marquel. There were seven to eight kids per team, brothers David and Jason, Dwayne, Edward, Kevin, Jamal, brothers Sharif and Mike and little Troy, Annibal, Corey, Sammy, Ronnie and sometimes we let Tina from the back building play to even out the squad...oh yea and we all had a crush on her.
The game would be scored by memory of course. Sometimes it led to arguments. I could remember being the only kid to have a father who lived home and hung out with me. My dad would buy me a glove every week from that guy who would show up at his job in the door factory on Tremont Avenue and Third Avenue just for a couple of pesitos papi, and you always knew for what (remember Lou?). So we would play with six gloves, one sponge ball bought at Mommies Candy Store for 50 cents and the famous yellow Emigrant Bank Bat that I got at Yankee Stadium Bat Day. Play ball!
We would play until about noon. After the game all you'd hear was "I'm hungry." or "I'm thirsty."
"I'm not going all the way upstairs!"
"Yo! C.E.S. 132 got free lunch."
"We should've came earlier."
"As long as they got juice, whatever."
"Miss, what's the sandwich today?"
"Peanut Butter and Jelly. There's plenty."
"Any watermelon left?"
After lunch we would head back to the parking lot, pick new teams and start a new game. We'd play until six-seven o'clock or until we'd hear "COREEEEEEEEY!" from the 13th floor.
"Alright, we'll finish tomorrow."
"We up 6-3."
"NBO (new batting order)."
We'd all run in, to eat, watch TV, sleep, dream, and get up tomorrow to do it all over again.