Located on Hartman Ln. in O'Fallon, IL, The Ball Park Sports Center (Formerly Mike Moore's Ball Park) decided in the late 80's to get in on the area's hockey craze and offer indoor hockey leagues which would be played on their astroturf indoor soccer field.
It was high class street hockey with boards on a large astroturf playing surface. The socer goals were covered with painted plywood and metal goals were placed out on the turf, and boom...we had a nice indoor street hockey venue. At the time, it was pretty cool. We were used to playing out in the street or on tennis courts, but this was something better.
Yeah, it was dusty and dirty and seemed to have a light haze in the air like the old St. Louis Arena back in the day...probably from smoke, dust and asbestos...but it was a lot more fun than playing in the street.
For years I played on numerous teams at The Ball Park. Some of these teams were: TBA (because we couldn't come up with a good team name our first season), The Cahokia Commanches, The Sharks, The Handicapables and The Mighty Ducks (named after the movie...this was before the NHL team existed).
In my first season playing for TBA, my brother Keith and my cousin Jeff split time in goal. And unfortunately, we were terrible. We lost our first game 16-0 to the Ball Park Blues, whom we later found out were easily the best team up there. This was my first organized hockey game of my life..and it was a massacre. We couldn't get the...ball...out of our zone and spent the whole time playing poor defense. Not pretty. The only game we won during our first season was a forfeit win, which allowed us to get into the playoffs...and then we won our first playoff game, 4-2 against the Cheap Shots. That game was stopped by the refs with a few minutes to go because of a fight and rough play (sign of things to come from our group?)...and we were declared the winner. Yup, we shocked the Ball Park. We ended up losing in the next round, but it didn't matter...we were hooked.
The next season I was asked if I wanted to play for a Cahokia team at the Ball Park. My cousin Jeff played ice hockey with some of the guys putting the team together, so played with them next season...and we dominated the league and easily won the championship. After that season (it may have been a couple seasons...I dunno), I started a team back up with a lot of the guys from the TBA team, but we came up with a name this time...The Smithton Sharks. And I have to say we did quite well. We won a few championships (beating the Cahokia team in the process) and we had a good time.
A friend of mine, John Nelson, had a team that played on a different night and I played on his team for a while and we eventually merged the Sharks and his Handicapables team to form The Mighty Ducks. And again, we did quite well...as we won a couple championships.
Proably the best story that our team was involved in was when Keith was in net and Jeff was playing defense. Keith and Jeff usually alternated starts, but they decided to switch during the game...while play was going on...on the fly. Keith took off his equipment while play was going on...he then ran to the bench where Jeff hopped on. Jeff ran into the crease and started putting the equipment on...all while play was going on. Our team was really good and we were a bit cocky I guess. The other team did bring the play down the rink once and a piece of equipment still laying in the crease that had yet to be put on by Jeff, ended up making the save. No goals were scored against us during the infamous "Sharks Change Goalies On the Fly" moment.
But then the year came where we all got rollerblades for Christmas. We got into roller hockey, playing on the tennis courts in Smithton, so playing hockey on foot wasn't as interesting anymore.