There were precious few opportunities to play baseball when I was growing up in Astoria. There wasn’t a blade of grass within walking distance of the apartment house I lived in, and everywhere you looked there was a window. Windows and hard balls do not mix well, and even a Spaldeen ball could do serious damage. That made stickball tricky too, because we had plenty of folks on 41st Street who could swing a mean broom handle. For these reasons, Wiffle Ball was huge in our neighborhood, and at any time on a summer day more than one game was often going on at the same time on our block. So when I found out that Nesquik was organizing a Wiffle Ball Tournament at Citi Field with the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club for early this morning, I set my alarm.
The event was held in Parking Lot E, with Edgardo Alfonzo and Bud Harrelson playing and coaching teams of volunteers and staff representing Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, ASPIRA New York, Hispanics in Philanthropy, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Urban Health Plan, Children’s Aid Society, Mets Superfans, FDNY Foundation, NYPD, and many of my fellow Mets bloggers. That’s right, it was a sea of bloggers taking their hacks today, all better men and women than me. I know how long ago those days were on the old block, so I got out of the way and enjoyed myself.
While sipping some coffee I had a few minutes to speak to Daniel Koch, Marketing Manager at Nesquik, who explained the goal of their involvement with Madison Boys and Girls Club:
“Nesquik is a brand that is all about kids, and one of our main objectives that we have as a brand is to encourage kids’ activities and it doesn’t have to be athletic stuff, but we want kids to have fun and be out playing. So we are working with the Boys and Girls Club not just here in New York, but nationally, on this, on getting kids outside.”
That sounds good to me, but more importantly, it’s what it means to the kids in the program. One 10-year-old, Sirrenity, who was there today with her 7-year-old sister, Harmonie, definitely was enjoying the day and had no shyness about posing for a photo op with some of the other participants for my wife, Terri, and chatting about what she thought of both Nesquik and Boys & Girls Club, Columbus Clubhouse, Bronx, where she gets to enjoy “lots of different activities.” This is what Sirrenity had to say:
“Before today, I didn’t even know what Wiffle Ball was. But now I know it’s like baseball and that I like it. I’m happy the Club gives me a chance to experience new things.”
That was the best thing for me today, all the smiles I saw from the kids. So kudos to Nesquik and everyone associated with the event today. It was a lot of fun.