Below is a write up that was published in the Wellesly Townsman.
To view their online illustrated article
Former neighbor's death inspires his old gang to reunite
By Shara Zaval/ Townsman Correspondent
Thursday, August 12, 2004
The small baseball field nestled in the corner of Springdale Avenue and Hillside Road in Wellesley looks worn and peaceful, showing no evidence of the lively get-together on its turf on Saturday, June 19. Once the hub of baseball games played by neighbors from the surrounding five streets, the field was alive once again when 21 of them and their spouses reunited in their favorite hang-out spot.
Dubbed Yotz's field in honor of the family who owned it 50 years ago, a group of neighbors purchased the field and protected it as a town park so that it will be forever preserved, said Annie Parker Schmalz, 63, who lived on nearby Indian Springs Way for 30 years. Schmalz and previous neighbor Larry Daloz organized the reunion in honor of Jim Yotz, who died during the previous year.
"We realized we should have done this before he passed, but we didn't," said Schmalz. "It inspired us to put this together."
After searching on the Internet to gather up the old neighborhood gang, who now live everywhere from Louisiana to Washington state, Schmalz and Daloz sent out fliers and made phone calls to bring everyone together. "Almost everybody said 'I can't wait, this is terrific, what can I do?' I couldn't have done it without their encouragement," Schmalz said.
Although they had planned to play baseball that day, the old neighbors never actually got around to the game. "We got so involved in telling stories, We could have stayed and talked until midnight," Schmalz said. Many stories centered around Jim Yotz, including one of Schmalz's personal favorites: Yotz was very accident prone, and after needing a full body cast from getting caught in a baling machine, Schmalz hit a foul ball that landed on his head, the one uninjured part of his body.
The reunion also included a walking tour of the entire neighborhood, where each person pointed out old hiding spots or places where they would ski, skate and catch frogs. "It was especially strange to see our old houses again. Everything looked so different," Schmalz exclaimed.
Current Springdale Street resident of 40 years, Paul J. Kloss, who brought balloons to the reunion and visited with old friends, claimed the same thing. "The neighborhood has completely changed," Kloss said. "The houses are 1 million, 2 million dollars, and the feel is very different."
Schmalz said that the unworn base paths on the field attested to the change in atmosphere. She explained that the current community rarely uses the field and instead stays in their own backyards, although this is probably a pattern of the time.
"Kids don't have that kind of adventuresome, spontaneous lifestyle anymore. Everything is scheduled," said Schmalz, who was especially saddened because she believes that it was the casual and free lifestyle that led everyone back to the field in the first place. "Hillary Clinton said, 'it takes a neighborhood to raise a child.' In our case, it was absolutely true."