It’s been 63 years since a group of young men who grew up in the Jewish neighborhoods around West Baltimore decided to stick together into adulthood, reflecting the team spirit they had while playing sports as kids at Baltimore’s Easterwood Park.
Located on the corner of Baker and North Bentalou streets, the park, which is still open and operating, was home to thousands of Jewish youngsters starting in the early 1900s, when the area surrounding the park was predominantly Jewish.
The young men, known as the Easterwood Park Boys, had participated in organized basketball, football, baseball and track and field. They formed the Easterwood Boy’s Club and began gathering annually in the late 1950s.
This year the club, which opened its membership to the public in an effort to swell its dwindling, aging ranks, is holding its annual luncheon Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Olive Branch restaurant, 1721 Reisterstown Road, in the Ramada by Wyndham.
“We are a group that is fading fast because of attrition, age, infirmity, etc.,” said Lenny Miller, 11-year president of the group. “We are holding on by our fingernails because the membership has depreciated so much. So, each year we make a judgement as to whether or not we want to keep the organization viable.”
Current membership is about 70, Miller said. “But in our heyday, we had 700 to 800 members.”
He hopes people will come out and support the group at this year’s luncheon, which will feature former Baltimore Colts linebacker Stan White.
Named for Irish immigrant Hamilton Easter, the park evolved from the Easter estate. During the early 1900s through the early 1960s, the streets around the park were dotted with Jewish delis, shops and shuls said Miller, who grew up blocks away near what is now Mondawmin mall.
Miller, 81, has fond memories of getting on a streetcar in 1949 to travel with his team to the citywide baseball championship held that year in Patterson Park. He was 12. The right-fielder still has his trophy pin from that game.
Tickets for the luncheon and program are $35. For tickets and information, call Miller at 410-363-3155 or 443-695-0423.