There’s a new green monster in the sportsworld — a stand of new trees that have proven to be a kick in the kickballs to McCarren Park’s most-popular athletes.
The spindly trees, planted around the Greenpoint park within the last month, have forced the organizers of the famed kickball league to reorient playing fields in a new configuration that puts players at risk of dangerous outfield collisions, the sportsmen and women told The Brooklyn Paper, the borough’s semi-official kickball organ.
The 20-odd baby trees, which were planted as a part of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Million Trees” program, affect all three Brooklyn Kickball fields, which are used simultaneously on Sunday nights.
“You have to watch out, or else you’ll get hit in the back of the head,” said Bushwick resident B.J. Steiner of the “Divine Sisterhood of the Sacred Bleeding Heart” squad.
According to Brian Riccardi, who plays for “P. Diddy’s White Party featuring Fat Kid Hustle,” some of the players’ free-spirited nature might put them in even greater peril.
“We were basically in the other field whenever one of the big kickers came up,” said Riccardi. “Considering our steady diet of PBR [a popular ‘beer’], someone is bound to get hurt.”
The city claims it planted the saplings simply to restore the greenspace to Gilmore Clark’s 1936 design.
“This area was originally conceived as a passive-use area,” Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson wrote in an e-mail. “With many venues in McCarren Park already dedicated to active recreation such as its ballfields, turf field, running track and basketball courts, we also strive to ensure that space is available for more passive pursuits such as picnics, sunbathing, and book reading.”
But kickball sources say they can’t comprehend why their section of the park — which includes a baseball diamond and is cordoned off from the more passive areas of the park with a walking path — doesn’t qualify for active recreation.
Some kickballers want the city to transplant the newly sewn arbors across the path and off the playing field, while others claim that the game must go on.
“I don’t think it matters that much,” said Sam Doroff of the “Mathletes” team. “I’m just excited to be out here for the season.”