Diamonds Are Forever
“Baseball is what we were, and football is what we have become.” — Mary McGrory
WRITTEN BY EMILY TECKLENBURG, AKA “GELATO MAMA”
There is a place where this notion is false. There is a place where baseball is alive and well and more eagerly anticipated than Christmas morning. There is a place where generation after generation of young boys and girls have been cheered and jeered on a red dirt field that is rich with tears and triumphs.
This place is very near to you. You might have passed it a thousand times, cruising down Valley Drive, just south of Pier Avenue in our treasured Hermosa Beach. This place is Clark Field, home of Little Leaguers big and small since 1951.
As a resident of Hermosa Beach, I can tell you that our town’s love for this unique patch of grass holding three ball fields borders on obsessive. As a mom with a love for baseball and two kids who may love it more, I can tell you that there is no place we would rather be during the months of March, April, May and June.
And if they could, my kids would visit Clark every weekend, every month—all year long. And I would happily accompany them.
Because Clark Field is not just a baseball field. It’s not just home of the world-famous snack shack, where Carlos serves up the greatest breakfast burrito of all time. It’s not just where the game is at.
It’s where our community lives. It’s where we come together. Where we have butted heads, heckled umpires, laughed and even mourned together. It’s a holding place for memories and a learner of lessons.
On any given baseball day, there could be one or three games happening simultaneously, T-ballers playing beside the Majors with everyone in between circling the fields, searching for buddies, finding a way to pass the time, happily digital-free and kicking it old-school style with their friends, finding a pick-up game to play in the vacant grass.
Veteran parents come prepared for a long day at the field, having no problem with their multiple children playing multiple games and being perfectly content with four solid hours of baseball at Clark. We roll our eyes and tell one another, “Oh, I’m here all day … how about you?” But inside we are all not-so-secretly happy to be residents of Clark for the entire day.
Newbie parents linger, slowly figuring out that nobody ever really wants to leave. For as soon as you start to go, you find yourself bumping into someone here and then someone else over there … and what’s the rush, really? The children with their dirt-smudged cheeks and the promise of a few dollars for the snack shack and the parents with their coolers and their cups and their company … sure. We can stay. We’ll stay a little longer.
And off they go, these children of ours, free to roam within the gates for just a little bit longer. Because what makes this place so insanely special is that it’s not just baseball that comes alive on those three diamonds. It’s witnessing childhood come alive in all the land that surrounds those three diamonds. It’s childhood how I think it’s meant to be: dirty and free.
When our neighboring cities get to come and play on our fields, I watch them walk in and I wonder if they can feel it too. I wonder if they know they’re stepping on magic. I wonder if they can tell how here, at Clark Field in Hermosa Beach, we are still … baseball.
May we always be baseball.
More than a pipe dream.