Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where Did the Term Sandlot Ball Come From?

From the book “The Golden Game, The Story of California Baseball” the term “sand lot ball” came about in the 1860’s. San Francisco ball players in this era liked to practice and play games in what is now the Civic Center area. Once hilly and rolling, it was a cemetery during the Gold Rush until the city flattened the land and removed the gravestones. Baseballers quickly gravitated to this empty sandy lot and the area become identified with the game that city residents began referring to ballplayers as “sandlotters ”guys who played “sandlot ball”. The term grew into widespread use and has since become an indelible part of the language of the game. Thus the term Sand Lot Ball was born and used ever since when referring to baseball played in San Francisco. What was the first fenced ball park in the West? That too happened in San Francisco as Recreation Grounds was built in 1968 in the Mission District at that time was the Irish section of the City. It was the first ball park in the state with a fence around it. The park opened on Thanksgiving Day for a game between the SF Eagles and the Wide Awakes of Oakland. The term Wide Awakes referred to men who got up early to play ball before going to their jobs. The Eagles won the game played before 3,000 spectators and the rivalry was started between Oakland and the City. Not much is known about the fence and how it was constructed but legend has it that it had knot holes and spaces between the boards wide enough for children to peer through to see the games. Thus they became members of the first California knothole gang.


roberteryan said...

Q. Do you have a list of all the old timers. My father, Harold
T Ryan was a member and played for the Canilia Seals prior to the team became the S.F., Seals.
R. Ryan

matteoball said...