All Hallows Gaels
Sunday, May 17, 2009
By Stephen Nessen : Reporter, WNYC News
This year the Yankees kicked off their new seasons in a shiny new $1.3 billion ballpark. While fans have marveled at the culinary treats and the massive LED screen in the outfield, not everyone is so enthused. The All Hallows High School baseball team in the South Bronx is forced to play their home games on the road and often practice in the school’s cafeteria. That’s because in 2006 theirfield was demolished to make way for the new Yankee stadium. Without a regular field to practice on, the team improvises, but it has already been three years.
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, the sun is high, it’s over 80 degrees outside, a perfect day for baseball. But three hours before their fourth game of the season members of the All Hallows Gaels, are pitching and taking swings indoors.
"Basketball gym, slash church, slash theater, slash everything."
That’s Misaell Cabral, a 16-year-old, junior. He’s the right fielder for the Gaels and is standing about mid-court while his teammate lobs a large soft dimpled ball at him. Cabral takes half-swings, not wanting to make full-contact.
"We can’t practice with actual baseballs, cause we can’t break all the windows," says Cabral. "The team practices pitching on the basketball court and batting in the cafeteria. For pop-ups they toss balls outside in a narrow courtyard next to apartment buildings. It’s concrete, it’s not really baseball material. It’s frustrating at times."
The Gaels used to play at nearby Macombs Dam and John Mullally Park, until construction of the new Yankee stadium began three years ago. State and federal law mandates that park land be replaced an acre for an acre, but due to cost delays and the discovery of barrels of oil along the waterfront, building of new parks has been delayed.