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Streetplay covers the Stickball Hall of Fame

From High Commissioner to President

President G.W. Bush was the self-appointed 'High Commissioner of Stickball' while a senior at Phillips Academy in Andover,  MA
President G.W. Bush was the self-appointed "High Commissioner of Stickball," seen here in a picture from the Phillips Academy Yearbook
Few would associate President George W. Bush with stickball, the essence of urban street play, but in fact, stickball did have a major influence on our new leader and will now be forever linked to the American political landscape.

In the September 2000 issue of Topics magazine, a journal for students in grade six through nine, Mr. Bush was asked "Were you involved in school politics when you were a teenager? If so, what did you learn from that experience?" Bush replied, "I wasn't involved in school politics when I was a teenager. My political talents first blossomed when I organized a stickball league and appointed myself high commissioner during my senior year at high school. Along with my friends we organized a full stickball tournament."

The New York Times reported that this stickball tournament was one of the more popular events to occur in the Phillips Academy during Dubya's stay. "The stickball league was popular among the students in part because it was seen as subversive, spoofing Andover's somber athletic traditions. Instead of the earnest sports matches that were rigidly controlled by adult coaches, the stickball league was entirely run by the students and was dedicated to fun rather than excellence, just like the high commissioner himself." And in fact it was here that the President elect first distinguished himself as a leader. (Read the full story on the NY Times site; subscription required.)

Furthermore, it was on the stickball field that the President had an opportunity to develop his compassionate conservatism. New Hampshire's Concord Monitor reports, "Stickball had always been played at Andover as a casual after-dinner pickup game, but Bush institutionalized it, his title duly noted in the school yearbook: 'High Commissioner of Stickball.' He organized campus teams into a league that included every last uncoordinated soul who wanted to play. One day, Alan Wofsey, a classmate who described himself as more bookish than athletic, unexpectedly caught a fly ball. Bush stopped the game and insisted everyone applaud Wofsey. 'He was kind to the athletically challenged,' said Wofsey, now a Pennsylvania psychiatrist."

With this recently revealed connection between stickball and politics, Streetplay is going to petition Curtis Sliwa, NYC Commissioner of Stickball, to run for mayor in the upcoming election!

Request to readers: If you were involved in the Andover Stickball League and have a memory, story or photo to share, please contact us.

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