The Bronx Emperors head into this weekend’s NYESL Championship Series vs. NYESLs 2009 regular season champion Leland Legends. Leland swept Gold 2-0 to advance into the 2009 Finals while the Emperors are coming off a grueling 3 game series versus the Bronx Royals.
Leland Legends has had a share of the #1 spot from day 1 and carried thru the rough summer of 3 games a days. They scored the most runs in the league this year 145, second only to the Gun Hill Bombers all time record 150 runs in 2006. Leland also gave up the fewest runs 54. The best Offense and the best defense in the same season only the Gold has ever managed that feat. The 2009 NYESL HR champion 17 yr old “Prodigy” Edwin Rodriguez leads this offensive juggernaut with a supporting cast of longball hitters such as outfielders Dave Meerow, Mick Oliveras and their newest addition longtime Bx Knight Jason Alvarez who will break one of the longest tenure of not getting to an NYESL championship. 1st Baseman Ferdi German 2nd baseman Tim Dawgs and Co Capt. John “Boobie” Ayala 2009 All Star MVP Ayala are consistent contact hitters. Their line drive hitters include Golden Hands “Bam Bam Dark” Darnell Byrd outfielder Lenny Scissor Hands and SS “El Capitan” Eddie F who also anchors this defense. Together Ed & Edwin in 2009 put notice they are the best father son duo in the game. With Eddie F manning the IF and Jr. the outfield Leland cruised thru the highly competitive 2009 NYESL season. Outside a small blip in the NYESL Memorial Tournament Playoffs in which they were eliminated prematurely they have risen to the challenge since.
Now comes their biggest test to date. One team stands in the way of the franchises 1st championship since its inaugural season 4 years ago, the Bronx Emperors. The Emperors are the longest running Stickball organization in the Bronx. They were established in 1985 coinciding with the New York Emperors Stickball League and have been supported by their veteran leadership in Choo Herrera and Arnie Brown. In the 25 years they have won 16 Stickball Championships throughout the U.S. 2nd only to Gold’s 26. The Emperors have been the hottest team for nearly 2 years now. They have either won or been involved in numerous championships, (“07” Columbus Tourny) (“08” NYESL Championship) (Columbus Tourny “08”) (Manhattan Fall Championship Nov “08”) and in the 2009 NYESL 25th Memorial Stickball Classic they went 9-0 for only the 2nd time (Arawak) in 25 years this feat had been accomplished. They have beaten the best team in Stickball for the past 10 years the Gold in 9 out of 11 games. The Emperors are led by their team defense. Their infield is considered by many as the best infield in Stickball both offensively and defensively. The short outfielder Vido Creales (Captain) is the cornerstone to this infield as he has played up the middle short outfield better than anyone this year. Shortstop is played by Eric Rivera who made the routine plays anything but. He also made some of the better plays ever seen at short. At 2nd base we have “Cha-Ching” aka Ant Live, the best clutch performer in the game. At 1st base Tyrone handles it all. Don’t let the quietness fool you, the man did win league MVP and batted .600 for the Angels/Bad Boys in 2000. The best 3rd baseman in the game Caban we all know the name period. The OF could be laterally & vertically challenged at times but are anchored by Deep outfielder Chungo who gets better and better but they get the job done and offensively there isn’t a better hitter in Jay Roble and no one and I mean no one hits it harder than AL Jr. The Bronx Emperors are also supported by their brothers Gill and Joey Ceda.
Leland Legends play for Leland Ave their old stomping grounds and have always played in memory for their brother and friend Georgie whose life was taken by the streets. We on the Emperors play on Stickball Blvd and in memory of those that played our game- legends such as Frankie Sanchez Sr, Frank Calderon, Chicky, Chino, Bouncer, Yoko, Lenny, Nunz, Jose, Chooie, Mr. Roble, Toti, Joey and Petey just to name a few, but the biggest one we play for is my Hero Steve Mercado and I play on Steve Mercado Way. I love this game! May both teams play with that fire, desire and pride that runs thru our Latino hearts.
Thank You. Tito Rivera