The first time I saw the Oaklandish baseball jersey I felt so nostalgic. It reminded me of my time playing in the East Oakland's Babe Ruth league at Greenman Field.
Every April we'd parade from Concordia Park on 62nd to Greenman Field on 66th for opening day. The streets were blocked off, and the previous year's champions rode in the back of trucks, making everybody envious and wanting to win the upcoming season. There was always a huge BBQ, team pictures, and day filled with fun family events. It was the best!
The league was a staple of Oakland culture and it provided so much more than just the opportunity to play baseball. The community ties that the league created were irreplaceable. My family dedicated every Saturday during the season to spending time at the park with other families and friends. We forged lifelong bonds with people we may not have otherwise met.
The league also provided employment and job training by hiring and training local young Black and Latino folks to be umpires.
I am sad to see accessible baseball disappearing from urban American cities, especially Oakland. Today the league has fewer teams and participants due to the city's changing landscape, but hopefully there will be a resurgence.
The true social fabric of the city that I was born and raised in exists in these kinds of organizations, and I will forever be reminded of Oakland Babe Ruth Baseball whenever I see an Old English O.
Tunde Ahmad is an Oakland Tech grad with an undergraduate degree from Yale and a Masters in Journalism from Columbia. He’s currently working as a journalist, writing a book, and pursuing inspiring entrepreneurial ventures.
Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. 'We Are Oaklandish' is a storytelling project created to highlight just that.
These are stories that shed light on the different experiences, memories, and opinions of the people in the city we all love. They are people who give our city its oddball spirit, its passion for justice, and its creative vigor. They lift us up with laughter, peace, nourishment, and authentic hard work.
They make us proud to call this town our home. They are Oaklandish.
Read more: We Are Oaklandish