Author Topic: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck  (Read 1887 times)

Offline BLeafe

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The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« on: June 23, 2016, 04:20:00 PM »
I don't post every Name-Dropper article that comes from The Record because some are too town-specific and known only to a relatively small amount of County residents, but I'm posting this one because it's from the town I was born in and grew up in and I had an encounter with this man at a young age that left a good impression that fits in exactly with the article's content.


http://www.northjersey.com/news/the-name-dropper-richard-rodda-community-center-in-teaneck-1.1619942


From the mid-1950s to the early-1960s, I and all my friends participated in a town-wide summer parks program. My street - Cumberland Avenue - was the only street in town with a park at either end of it. When I was too young to cross Garrison Avenue by myself, I had to go to Phelps Park, which was still kind of swampy (and smelled like it) with WAY too many dragonflies and other bugs.

As soon as I was old enough, I switched to Sagamore Park at the other end of my four-block street.

Sagamore had a fountain for cooling off under and lots of games, including my favorite, zell ball.............anybody remember that?.  Every park had a softball team and every team got to play a game in every other park in town. My team played on the same Sagamore field where I would later play Little League ball.

Sagamore had one structure - an odd building that was half two-ended, open-air shelter and half storage for all the baseball bats/balls, horseshoes, paddles and whatever other recreational equipment the program provided every summer. The storage room had an opening at a second-story level that kids used to try to throw things through after park hours.

Someone threw a ball I owned through it and I was not happy. I called the recreation department and they said they'd send someone over to unlock the room right away.

I expected some grouchy laborer, but it was the boss - Dick Rodda. He didn't ask why we were there after park hours. He simply unlocked the door and I retrieved my ball.

He could not have been nicer. He made a kid very happy that day and I've never forgotten that simple kindness from over a half-century ago.

As I grew up, I just kept reading/hearing about the nice things he did for the people of Teaneck.

"How can I help?" truly was his mantra.



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Offline Wayne

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 12:30:25 PM »
Wow!
I LOVED Zell ball and played at Sagamore Park as a kid.
I too started out at Phelps park, but liked the pond and swamps there. We skated on it every day we could and picked " punks" ( cat tails ) in the summertime.
Like you, as I got older, Sagamore was the place to be.
I played zell ball all day long until I was crowned champion! Lol.
I recall walking home with burned and bloodied forearms from " whipping".
They were a Badge of Honor and I wore them proudly. ( Good Lord)
I think I know you. I lived in Sagamore ave, next to your block.
My brother is Russell. Other names recalled are Mulligan, Hajergian, Atkins, York and Panitiari, who owned the shoe store on Cedar Lane.
Those days were Gold!

So how did I get here?
I googled Zell Ball and found this site. It's the only mention if Zell ball on the entire web!

Offline BLeafe

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2016, 02:15:35 PM »
If your last name is 4 letters long and begins with an "R", I knew Russell quite well. We met in kindergarten at Lowell School (Miss Baum!) and were on the same Little League team - F&S (see attached - he's standing right above me).

The Mulligans were my relatives (2 doors east of you?) and I knew Dickie Hazerjian, Stevie Atkins and Frank Panettieri, who I think was a year older than me.

How's Russell? He was the nicest guy. Tell him I said hello.



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Offline Editor

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2016, 09:42:06 AM »
Ok, so how do you play Zell Ball?


Offline Wayne

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2016, 11:19:13 AM »
Awesome that you have that pic!!!
Yes, that is him. He was an amazing pitcher back in the day!
He is is doing well!

How do you play Zell Ball?

Find an 8' long pole.
Get a tennis ball attached to a rope About 7 ' long. . Two paddles. The object is to hit the ball winding the rope around the pole above a mark about halfway up.

Offline BLeafe

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2016, 11:51:48 AM »
The first image shows a basic explanation that sounds fairly docile, but as I remember it, you really had to blast the ball by your opponent, who was trying to do the same in your direction. Once it got it past that person, you had to continue to hit it hard as it came back around the pole toward you, trying to change your contact angle so your opponent couldn't adjust in time - and do that while you're adjusting to the shorter and higher line as it wrapped around the pole. It took some skill to continuously hit the ball every time it came around.

The second image shows pages 24 and 25 of Teaneck's 1962 Municipal Budget where they added a hard surface for players to stand on to many of the zell ball courts in the township's parks. I remember playing on dirt, which got a little messy after it rained.

The next two images are rather sad.

So..........are you looking to revive zell ball in Hackensack?


CLICKit!



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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2016, 11:54:35 AM »

Offline BLeafe

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2016, 12:48:37 PM »
Oh yeah - tennis trainers. I don't think zell ball would help much with that.

I found this that claims to be similar to zell ball. I think it's zimm zamm, which looks a lot more civilized.



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Offline Wayne

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2016, 01:45:31 PM »
Not Margaret!!! nooooo!
Zim zam? Looks like a watered down version of the Real Game!
Boy Oh boy... the burns my arms had playing!
It was very strategic too.... I would try to get my opponent facing the sun. Hitting the Ball downward would cause the ball to go over the apponents head. Another tactic was to reverse the rotation of the ball when you saw your opponent set up to hit it.
Who wants to meet at Sagamore Park!!!
Lol

Offline Skipx219

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Re: The Name-Dropper: Richard Rodda of Teaneck
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2016, 01:59:40 PM »
Teaneck named a recreation center after Richard Rodda, located at the south end of Votee park...north of Route 4 between Queen Anne Rd & Palisade Ave.

 

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