On a beautiful Saturday afternoon May 14, I was at Riverside’s Big Ball Park watching a Little League girls softball game — seems I have done this before, only time has passed. This time I was watching another generation of our family, with granddaughter McKenna playing for Brookfield against Riverside. Normally, I would root for Riverside, but family is family.
Sitting there, it dawned on me how the fields had changed over the years and actually have become ball fields. When I was growing up, we didn’t have girls softball, which my granddaughter finds hard to believe.
Husband Joe (Poppy) remembers in the 1950s when he started playing Little League in North Riverside. The field, yes field, was located in a forest preserve meadow on 26th Street and 5th Avenue. It was an area that had been cleared out for the games.
Since the program was just growing in the town and there was no softball, the small field sufficed. Fast forward to today and North Riverside has a great facility located on 26th Street near the mall.
There are a number of fields so more than one game can be played at a time. It is a great venue for those attending, with plenty of bleachers where fans can cheer on their teams.
A concession stand is a plus with parents working the stand. Come for dinner, watch a game, have a hot dog. As my father used to say, “You have to have a red hot if you go to a baseball game.” I think that counts for Little League, too. A real plus, at North Riverside, they have real bathrooms, not port-a-potties.
Brookfield always had the best fields with both Ehlert and Kiwanis parks. Kids always wanted to play at Kiwanis; it had it all. Now both fields have all the amenities so it is a good time at the old ball park at either field. All the fields at the two parks are busy with action on many levels and all the enthusiasm.
So I sit watching the game and know that Riverside also has fields at Indian Gardens. The fields in Riverside may not be as sophisticated, but it’s the game that is the thing. As for the port-a-potties located in the bushes? Atmosphere!