It’s Spring in Richmond: azaleas blooming, gardens vivid, and the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” echoing down the decades. Richmond loves ball, softball, baseball, professional, amateur. Our beloved Richmond Braves are gone, replaced by the Flying Squirrels, but other teams have held our hearts and loyalty over the years.

Teams like the Richmond Lawmakers and the Richmond Paramounts. Baseball’s Hall of Fame member, Ray Dandridge, played ball in Church Hill, for the Richmond Paramounts and was one of the first African American players nationally recognized.

Mayo Island’s ball park is still recalled by very old Richmonders. My friend, Morris Goldberg, remembers games there and sneaking in without paying. One of my great-grandfather’s pictures was probably taken looking up into the stands. I have his picture of a streetcar advertising “Ball Game Today” circa 1919. No specifics were given so wherever the game, Richmonders knew the location and time.  Later, teams played at Mooer’s Field, on Broad between Allen and Lombardy. Mention Mooer’s Field and the reaction is immediate. Talking about those days, Lorna Clark identified the park location by its streetcar stop because she rode from her Northside home to games as a girl.

Byrd Park had teams from the early 1900’s and my aunt, Kathleen (Kit) Lynch was scorekeeper for the women’s team, the Pearl-ettes, in the 1950’s. I found her scorebooks, pictures, even the receipt from the hotel in Baltimore where the team stayed during a tournament. A poster advertising a charity game in Tappahannock raising funds for MS is evidence that Richmond ball teams have always been firmly “grounded” in local concerns.

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Equipment has evolved over the years, as seen in this undated photo. I’m not sure where this picture was taken but I am guessing it was around 1900. Notice the bats. NOT like those of today but, wooden bat or not, uniforms or not, the excitement is “uniform”.  There’s just nothing like a ball game.  My daughter, Molly, played as a young girl in the Clover Hill Association and my brothers, cousins and I played in the front field of our homeplace with bare dirt for bases and often no gloves. Professionals or neighborhood kids, the thrill is the same.

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It’s so ingrained in me that I named my real estate company Home Team Realtors with the logo “Have the Home Team Advantage.” It never occurred to me that anyone wouldn’t understand my logo…when you play on the field you know best, you have a distinct advantage over the visiting team. In Richmond, we’re the home team.

Love of the game runs deep in our family. One cousin played ball all his life…church teams, community teams, any kind of team, any time. He loved the game so much that, at his funeral, they carried his coffin out to the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I can’t think of a better way to go. Play ball.

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