Needham native Hal Carey, head baseball coach at Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, can’t stop playing the game. Eight years after hanging up his Harvard uniform (below), Carey is the shortstop for the Stockyard Club in the Boston Park League.

For The Love Of The Game

Though he last wore a Harvard University baseball uniform in the spring of 1999, Hal Carey still holds school records for career hits and stolen bases. The Needham native is still playing the game he loves, and playing it well, in the nation’s oldest continuous amateur baseball league.

Carey, head baseball coach at his high school alma mater, Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury, recently completed his 11th season in the Boston Park League as shortstop for the Stockyard Club, the runner-up in the league championship series last week to the Boston Padres.

A league all-star who batted .308 as one of the team’s elders at age 30, Carey played for the Park League’s All Dorchester Sports League team for three seasons while attending Harvard and the past eight years for the Walsh and Stockyard clubs. Read more

Joe Driscoll Foundation

More to Driscoll’s Life Than Umpiring

It was a playoff game between Reading and Tewksbury and the schedule-maker assigned two guys named Driscoll as the umpires. The base umpire, Joe Driscoll, seemingly had been around baseball forever, a veteran arbiter whom everybody trusted.

The plate umpire was Joe’s son, Todd. He was young, inexperienced. There were fears he’d make a bad call and blow the game. Read more

Some of the 30 who attended a recent Park League game in Roslindale.

A Faded Glory, But A Glory Of Summer Nonetheless

Tall, lanky left-hander Zak Smotherman throws a sharply curving breaking ball that would fool even the most skilled of hitters. The pitch stuns the right-handed batter, as the umpire bellows out the verdict for the handful of fans.

The batter, clearly upset, wipes the sweat off of his face with the sleeve of his Mass. Envelope jersey. He eyes Smotherman, of the Irish Village team, waiting patiently on the mound.

This is not a professional baseball game, but a hard-nosed match at Roslindale’s Fallon Field in what may be one of the best-kept secrets in the City of Boston.

The Boston Park League, which has for years combined some of Boston’s most talented baseball prospects with former stars whose glory had faded, is in its 76th year. Although it seems, at times, forgotten, the league endures, despite setbacks in attendance, facility maintenance, funding, and a reduced pool of top-notch players. Read more

Manny Delcarmen, Boston Red Sox

Local Boy Does Good

It was a scene from an earlier, simpler time, before the onslaught of cell phones, pagers and wide-screen, high-definition television. The Padres, a longtime entry in the Boston Park League, and in a scramble for the BPL’s two remaining playoff spots, had just emerged with a 6-3 victory over Cannon Club at Hyde Park’s Ross Field, but now the players, instead of celebrating their victory, were milling together in the parking lot, glued to their car radios, hanging on every word that barked from various speakers.

Incredible. People, standing together, focused, alert, listening to the radio. This is how folks heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Kennedy assassinations.

But in 2005, when and why do people hunker over … a radio? For these guys, the answer was simple: Manny Delcarmen, a product of Hyde Park, whose family’s house is just a few blocks from Ross Field, was making his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox. Read more

Umpire Walter Bentson

True Blue

The rules of etiquette in amateur baseball are quite clear in the matter of players losing their cool. You throw your helmet, you’re gone. You throw your bat, you’re gone. No discussion, no debates, no appeals.

But even very good umpires do not have eyes in the back of their heads. So let’s say a game is being played at, oh, Somerville’s Trum Field, and let’s say some Yawkey League hothead tries to turn his helmet into the Delta Shuttle after popping out to short, and let’s say that, at that precise moment, the plate umpire happens to be admiring the design of the Somerville Public Works Building, which is located out beyond the left field fence.

Under these circumstances, this is what happens: Nothing. The hothead gobbles up his helmet and returns to the bench, the next hitter steps up to the dish, the game continues.

Life goes on.

And so it is that we introduce Walter Bentson, a longtime umpire on the New England amateur baseball scene who has carved out a richly-deserved reputation as a hardball arbiter with that rare blend of keen eye, solid judgment and refreshing temperament. Read more

Earl Metzler, Chathams Rowe Pitcher

Metzler Educating Boston’s Park League

Earl Metzler, principal of Sterling Middle School in Quincy, is the winningest pitcher of the Boston Park League. Pitching for Chathams Rowe, he notched his 100th victory.

Read more

Zach Soolman unleashes a pitch during his comeback start with Larkin Club after Tommy John surgery.

Zach Soolman, Tommy John Surgery, and The Love of the Game

If Zach Soolman’s true baseball ambitions had been realized, he’d have been pitching for the Red Sox last summer, perhaps working in step with Pedro Martinez in the rotation and giving New England baseball fans a dazzling 1-2 pitching punch: Zach and Pete, and pray for sleet, or some such pressbox contrivance.

But fantasy is fantasy, and real life is real life. And for Zach Soolman, in hisa 28th summer, real life meant working in the consumer marketing department for Gorton’s Seafoods, and, just for kicks, pitching for the Larkin Club in the Boston Park League.

Soolman has been pitching pretty much his whole life, from Little League bandboxes to Needham High School to Tufts University. His college career ended with his graduation from Tufts in 1995, but he never stopped pitching. Going into last season, he had been a Park League mainstay for nine years.

We bring you, then, to the night of July 30, 2001. Read more

Boston Park League

Anybody’s Game

The Boston Park League ripe with all kinds of baseball players – and stories. Read more

Zach Soolman Pitching at Fenway Park

Playing for the Love of the Game

My shoulder is held together with fishing line, says veteran righthander Dave Worthley of the Boston Park League’s Towne Club. And he’s not joking. Doctors gave me a 50-50 chance of being able to throw again, but I made it perfectly clear that for me it was 99 percent. Read more

Ballplayer Awaits Call To The Pros; Braintree Slugger, A Star At Trinity, Is Being Scouted

Mike Ranieri is in the midst of his longest waiting game ever.

This time, the slugging baseball player isn’t stepping out of the batter’s box and playing games with an opposing pitcher.

His wait is for a ring on the telephone at his Braintree home or a knock on the door. You see, Ranieri is on the outside looking in. He is waiting for a call from Major League Baseball.

Four nights a week he puts on a uniform and plays center field for the All-Dorchester Sports League baseball team in the Boston Park League. And he keeps his ears and eyes open. Read more