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Stickball in Afghanistan

American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan
Click for bigger picture
American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan

Streetplay is happy to report what we believe is the first game of stickball in Afghanistan. It was played this summer by some American soldiers who are stationed at a firebase in Gardez. If you think you've had to play on tough fields, check out the pix from these guys!

How it Happened

In July 2004, Streetplay received a request from Lieutenant Jim Avrams which stated:

My name is Jim Avrams, I am a Lieutenant in the Army serving in Afghanistan. I grew up on Long Island and loved playing stickball. I have a platoon of Infantrymen here at a Firebase in Gardez, Afghanistan and we would love to get some stickball bats and balls (a lot of balls, cuz if we hit it outside the FireBase, we may not be able to retrieve them due to mines). If you could help us out in anyway we would appreciate it and fly an American flag over Afghanistan and send it to you. Also, there are some MPs from Boston here and we want to kick their asses in stickball.

Jim Avrams
LogCell South
PRT Gardez
APO/AE 09354

Streetplay quickly responded, letting Lt. Avrams know we'd take care of this, hopefully by getting a donation of materials, but paying for it ourselves if not. We also said that in addition to the stickball supplies, we'd send some materials that kids over there could play with as well. Not only would we like to help our troops' morale, but we'd also like the kids growing up to think of Americans as generous people who cared about them. Who knows, perhaps an Afghani adult unsure about America's intentions who sees this might not participate in an anti-American act.



Lt. Avrams wrote back appreciating the reply and offered to play a game on Sept 11, fly an American Flag over the compound and to send us a shot. He also let us know some more about the issues they faced:

A little info about us. Not only is the Military here trying to defeat the Taliban, AQ, and HIG forces, we are also trying to rebuild the country and establish a central government. We do this by establishing voter registration sites with the UN, digging wells and building schools. Most of the guys here are from the 34th Infantry Division of the Iowa National Guard, Other smaller groups are MP's from the 101st Airborne, Special Forces out of Fort Bragg, and members of the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion out of Rochester, NY. The Civil Affairs team does most of the Humanitarian Aid distribution and decides where schools etc. will go. I can't tell you a whole lot more than that since this is not a secure network, but that is the basics.

We get some baseball games on TV on the armed forces network, but have to be up at 0430-0500 to catch them. For instance, a few of us will be up to watch Yankees-Redsox on ESPN Sunday night Baseball tonite which won't come on for us until early Monday morning.

Anything you could do to help us would be great and would increase the Morale of the troops.



Thanks to the generosity of Skybounce (who donated a box of balls and some bats), Tutto Calcio Soccer and Sports Equipment who donated a dozen soccer balls and the home made touch of Streetplay's own Hugh McNally, who added a bunch of stickball bats to the mix, we were able to ship off a good package of materials.

Lt. Avrams received the materials and sent us these notes:

Received all the items and had our first "exhibition" game yesterday. Never had a game called on account of AK47 shots fired, but there is a first time for everything. Luckily the shots were not at us, it was a wedding party celebration not far from our compound.

Here are some pix. It's hard as hell to catch a ground ball on gravel, bad hops all day long.

American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan
Supplies coming in
American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan
The field of play
American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan
What a swing!
American troops playing stickball in Afghanistan
Admiring a good shot

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