This past weekend teams and players representing New Jersey, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Florida, Sand Diego, and of course the Bronx, got together to play in the 29th Annual New York Emperors Stickball League’s Memorial Day Tournament. If you want to witness the best stickball players in the world do what they do best, this was the place to be. This years tournament was dedicated to a couple of stickball legends who passed away this past year, “Coach” Manny Padilla and Henry “Papi” Caban. The league took the time to honor both men and celebrate and retire their numbers on Stickball Blvd.
This years participants included Manhattans own Sugar Hill, Barrio All Stars, and Blackhawks, Sunset Park Brooklyn, Florida Chargers, as well as the NYESL’s own Bronx Emperors, The Gold, Leland Legends, Bronx Royals, Bronx Ravens, Diamond Backs, and Jersey Saints.
Saturdays action looked to be in jeopardy with the clouds looming, but “Coach” Manny and “Papi” Caban made sure to talk the stickball gods into making sure we got our games in. The action was fast and furious on Saturday and Sunday and after two days of non-stop action, the top eight teams had been determined and were as follows:
1. Emperors (6-0)
2. The Gold (5-1)
3. Chargers (5-1)
4. Leland (4-2)
5. Ravens (4-2)
6. Royals (3-2-1)
7. Saints (2-2-2)
8. Sunset Park (2-4)
On Monday the top eight teams took to Stickball Blvd to determine who would be crowned the 2014 Memorial Day Champs in a single elimination playoff. The first round match-ups included the Emperors vs Sunset Park, The Gold vs Saints, Royals vs Chargers, and Ravens vs Leland. The Gold and Leland cruised past the Saints and Ravens, while the Emperors and Chargers edged out Sunset Park and the Royals in 1-run thrillers.
The final four teams were now set. The Emperors took on Leland, and The Gold took on the Chargers. Leland handled the Emperors easily and the curse of 6-0 struck for the second straight year. “Papi” Caban would have been proud of the way his Emperors played. The Gold meanwhile ended the Chargers quest to win for the second time in 3 years. And the final was set. The Leland Legends took on The Gold who were looking to win it all for “Coach” Manny and Eddie Betances, who is recovering from 2 knee surgeries, and add to their already loaded trophy case. Fans were treated to an excellent defensive game and in the end it was The Gold who was the last team standing with a 2-1 victory. For The Gold it was their 42nd overall Championship
Eddie Betances was named tournament MVP as his team set out to win it for him and “Coach” Manny and followed through on that promise.
I want to thank the Board for putting on an excellent tournament and keeping the tradition alive. Vido Creales, Eddie Espada, Jay Bueno, Ty Davis, Robert Rodriguez, Darnell Byrd…Just want to let you guys know your efforts don’t go unnoticed. Putting this tournament is a big task, and you guys did not dissappoint. On behalf of the all teams participating in this weekends tournament, we thank you.