South End stickball may soon be at an end

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The end of an era may soon be at hand for aging boyhood buddies who grew up in Springfield’s South End neighborhood.

It was back in 1950 when they started playing stickball at the Zanetti School playground on Howard Street.

They were children then, now they’re grandfathers devoted to keeping alive a tradition linking them with times gone by.

I’ve been playing here since 1950, so figure that out yourself. I was eight or nine years old. We used to play every day of the wee, we all grew up here and we still do it,” Rick Pajer said

South end businessman Rico Daniele has been a force behind keeping this tradition alive year after year and making certain these boys of summer reunite from different parts of the country for their one big game every year.

“It’s a joy here when you see some granddads come here and they play with their grandchildren, one’s about eighty and the other one is sixteen, that’s what life is all about,” Rico Danielle said.

But Springfield’s future may be catching up to these boyhood buddies. The land where they’ve played their game for so many summers is part of where MGM expects to build its casino complex. They knew that one day their more than sixty year old tradition would come to an end. They’re sad it’s happening so soon.

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