Longtime friends and classmates who grew up playing slow-pitch softball will reunite at a grand slam homecoming next weekend.
Memories of childhood in Mardela Springs are already flying around like fastballs, and are posted on the Facebook page, “I Remember Mardela Springs, Md.”
When former softball player Stephanie Moses started reading posts, “I kind of felt like everybody was in my living room just sitting around talking,” she said.
She and Charlie Echard joined to co-chair the two-day reunion, Friday, July 24, and Saturday, July 25.
There will be softball games, of course, as well as an opening ceremony, moment of silence for deceased friends, 50-50 raffle and Almeda Hopkins’ locally famous barbecue.
Miss Almeda has died, but Moses’ mother, Shirley Bailey, has the recipe and will make the popular dish. She and her husband, Moses’ father Ray, coached softball in the ’70s when the friends, now in their 40s and 50s, were growing up.
“This ‘I Remember Mardela Springs’ Facebook page just started a couple weeks ago,” Moses said.
“A fellow who used to live in Mardela, but who lives in California now, started it … and it was like, ‘Do you remember this?’ and ‘Do you remember that?’” she said.
When the subject turned to the Raymond E. Robinson Ballpark on Station Street and Railroad Avenue, the centerpiece of tiny Mardela Springs, men posted pictures of their boyhood trophies and declared their teams “ruled” and “rocked.”
Those who played on the boys’ teams – Chargers, Hawks, Eagles and Jets – and girls’ teams – Pussycats, Powder Puffs and Panthers — got an idea.
“We said, ‘Hey, let’s have a reunion’ and everybody said, ‘That’s a great idea,’” Moses said.
They’ll pitch in a nominal fee to play and proceeds will go to maintaining the park.
On Friday night, a men’s and a women’s softball game will be played, with more games Saturday.
“We have one kid who now lives in North Carolina. We have a guy who is stationed in Germany. He comes home once a year and is trying to come here for this. It’s just going to be a fun time,” Moses said.
In the golden 1970s when they played, each team had 12 to 15 players, prompting Moses to estimate there was a group of about 90.
She starting to play in 1974 and continued three years, she said, laughing about the days before cell phones. Children rode their bikes for 20 minutes to get home and ask if they could stay at the ball field another hour, then rode another 20 minutes to get back.
“You hung out, you met people … you knew everybody. It’s an enjoyable childhood when you grow up in a small town. We didn’t think about going to the mall and hanging out. We were limited to Mardela so the ball park was where we went,” Moses said.
“That night when we were first chatting on Facebook it went on for hours. People said, ‘Hey do you remember this?’ and ‘What school bus did you ride?’ We remembered kids that got killed in car accidents or whatever the case might be,” Moses said.
“Nobody has forgotten about it. And everybody is excited to get back together and see each other.”
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