"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

SHADOW GAMES: Fear’s Playground

Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx doesn’t have a baseball field, but that didn’t stop the kids. They got a game going with four pieces of cardboard, a plastic jug, an old aluminum bat and a rubber ball.

Maria came out to enjoy the afternoon with her children – a seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy – and they jumped right in the game.

Maria watched from a bench and waved when her daughter bounced a hit into centerfield.

“It’s a nice day for the kids,” she said. “They love to play out here.”

Maria kept talking about the baseball game and her daughter’s art project at school and her son’s basketball team. She even asked if CC Sabathia was really coming to the Yankees. It was easier than talking about what’s really on her mind these days.

“I’m scared,” she finally admitted. “People are losing their jobs everywhere and I’m afraid I’ll be next.”

She is most concerned about her full-time job as an office manager, but she’s also worried about her summer job at Yankee Stadium.

“I use the baseball money to payoff winter bills from Con Ed and Christmas for the kids and a lot of other stuff,” Maria explained. “The Yankees are doing something new with the concessions and I haven’t heard anything about my job. I’m behind the Union because they make sure we’re treated right, but I really need that job.”

Maria needs both of her jobs. She needs fair pay and health insurance. Her kids need all that, too.

“I don’t want any of this to hurt them,” Maria said. “They should just go to school and play ball and have fun.”

Maria is stuck worrying.

“I keep thinking about what I’ll do if I lose one of my jobs,” Maria said. “There’s no good answer so I try to put it out of my mind, but it won’t go away and that’s the worst part.”

Fear even ruins the good days.

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One comment

1 michael o. allen   ~  Nov 3, 2008 12:48 pm


As usual, you went to the heart of the story.

Thanks for finding Maria. We need to hear more from people like her because we need to figure out how to repair our nation. It's by people like Maria telling us their stories that we know how much work we need to do.

You're the best, Todd.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver