“SUNDAY NIGHT PICKUP BASEBALL.” 

If you’ve walked around McCarren Park in the past two months, you’ve passed by the poster. It’s the one with a seven-pointed star and the catcher in pinstripes.

“HOSTED BY THE BROOKLYN BAD STARS BASEBALL CLUB… 7PM-10PM… ALL ARE WELCOME.”

Jared Menane started the Bad Stars team in 2023. He’s an art director by trade and lives in the neighborhood. Last spring, he used the same tactic to find other players: 

Make a poster that catches people’s eyes. Then post them up on every block. At game time, go to the field with no expectations. It doesn’t hurt to be handy in graphic design. 

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Since that first spring, they’ve had enough people to play. Menane kept hosting pick-up and made a chat with the people who were into it. The group liked to compete, so he started to organize games against other teams in Brooklyn. Eventually, they spent the summer playing all the way from the tri-state to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Texas. 

Last Sunday, twenty people showed up. A few players in the dugout told me they saw the posters and wanted to check it out. While some wore cleats and official Bad Stars players shirts, others ran in jeans. The majority fell somewhere in between and paid no mind to it. There were gloves to share and a pile of bats. 

“I think the spectrum of sandlot is that there are ‘good’ players,” Menane said, “but there are also players that haven’t played in twenty-five years.” 

The nationwide surge of this kind of low-stakes baseball has been called the Sandlot Revolution. There’s a website and podcast dedicated to the movement, to “re-vitalize sandlot baseball by creating community through baseball that is accessible, inclusive, and most importantly, fun for anyone and everyone.” At writing, The Sandlot Revolution team page lists 207 clubs throughout the world, Ireland, Canada, and France included. 

Jack Sanders started the movement in 2006 when he built a team of friends, friends of friends. They called themselves the Austin Playboys. In the eighteen years since, Austin has become the epicenter of the new league.

Menane used to play on a team in West Texas and has a couple friends on the Playboys roster. To him, they provide a blueprint for what the Bad Stars could be — fully sponsored uniforms, a field of their own, hot dogs for sale. 

Baseball becomes something bigger with the spectators, gimmicks. Traditions. There’s fun in the theatrics and Menane is building it to Greenpoint.  

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” he said. To him, the first step is color commentary over a loudspeaker. “That’s what makes it this whole occasion… authenticates the whole experience.” 

Elsewhere in NYC, there’s the Brooklyn Books, NYC FUMBL (Formerly Unemployed Musicians Baseball League), and The New York Groove. 

But the Bad Stars are the ones who call McCarren Park home. 

Before the sun set behind the Park House, players picked up foul balls between picnic blankets. The outfielders were told to scream “heads” — louder next time — to avoid pedestrian injury by fly-ball. Some folks hung close to watch a couple batters.  

By the time the lights kicked, the park was empty. It was just the Bad Stars left to groan about an early end to the game. They got in seven innings (two short). Final score 11-7. By then, you couldn’t tell who came in knowing each other. 

As the weather gets warmer, there will be more opportunities to watch and play with the team. This Saturday, The Bad Stars face off against the Asbury Park Benny’s in Ocean, New Jersey. On Monday, the Brooklyn Books will take on NYC FUMBL in Prospect Park.

Francesca Barr is a writer based in Greenpoint.

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