In a previous post, I talked about being in San Francisco a few weeks back and being able to see Norwell’s Jarrod Parker almost throw a no-hitter.

While in “the City by the bay,” I had the opportunity to see the game of baseball from a different perspective, and what it meant to a certain group of people in our not so long ago past.

One of my personal “bucket list” items was the chance to visit the old Alcatraz Prison that sits on an island in the middle of San Francisco bay. We made the arrangement for tickets a few weeks ahead of time, because if you don’t, there’s a good chance you will get shut out of going out to the island on a certain day.

Once you get out to “The Rock,” if you enjoy history, you will be immediately mesmerized by the whole atmosphere of what went on in the past, as well as its current state.

It is a self guided tour, and you can take as much time on the island as you like. When you get to the cell block, where the prisoners were kept, you are given headphones to listen to someone guide you through what went on in every nook and cranny of the prisoner’s quarters.

When the “guide” led you out into the “recreation area” of the yard, I was particularly enthralled. Even though it is now dirt, dusty, weedy, and most of all lonely, you can picture how it was from 1934 until it closed in 1963 for the prisoners when trying to pass their time.

Ethan Standing on Home Plate

The favorite way to pass time, and get a little bit of exercise as well, was to play the great game of baseball. You can still see how the “diamond” was lined up, and where the hitters and pitchers did their thing. There were a number of prison teams back then, and from the way it was described, some pretty good players to boot.

As you can see from the picture, due to space constrictions, it wasn’t that long of a shot to hit one over the center field fence. I’d guess about 250 feet. We were told that if you hit it over the fence, that it was an automatic out.

Only on weekends were you allowed to play baseball in the recreation area. Two and a half hours on Saturday, and two and a half hours on Sunday, and may I say, the time had to be earned.

It was truly a learning experience, and something that I will not soon forget.

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