When I first saw the Oaklandish baseball jersey, I began feeling nostalgic. It reminded me of my time playing baseball in the Babe Ruth league in East Oakland at Greenman Field/Havenscourt. I remember marching from Concordia Park on 62nd to Greenman Field on 66th for opening day each April. The streets would be blocked off, and the champions from the previous year would get to ride in the back of trucks, making everybody want to be in their position next year. There would be a huge BBQ, team pictures, and events going on all day.
The league was a staple of Oakland culture, providing much more than just the opportunity to play baseball. The community that the league provided is irreplaceable. My family would dedicate Saturdays to spending time at the park amongst other families and friends, forging lifelong bonds with people we may not have otherwise come across. From an economic standpoint, the league also provided employment and job training, as the umpires were young Black and Latino folks from the community who were hired and trained by the league.
It's sad to see accessible baseball disappearing from urban American cities, with Oakland being a prime example. These days the league has much fewer teams and lower overall 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 (Class of 2014) and has gone on to graduate undergrad from Yale. He just received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and will spend this next year as a journalism fellow, plus working on a book and other entrepreneurial ventures.
Oakland is diverse and Oakland is proud. We are Oaklandish is a photography project created to highlight just that. This body of portraits and stories sheds light on the different experiences, memories and opinions from the people in the city we love. Stay tuned to hear the voices of our staff, local artists, makers and anyone and everyone from The Town.