The "Stickball Originals" Series – Part 5

                      Legacy of the South Bronx Stickball Players

In this story I hope to give a brief history of  South Bronx stickball up to the start of the NYESL founding in 1985. Also, I will introduce some of the players who had a major role in making stickball what it is today.

In the early 1950’s there were a number of good stickball teams in the South Bronx. When the Korean War broke out, many of the teams broke up since the players went into the military. When they returned, some played for other teams, but most of the old teams were gone. In 1956 there were two good teams in the South Bronx that played all over the Bronx and Manhattan. They were the Jackson Knights and the Tigers. In 1957, the Knights couldn’t field a team and were gone. This left the Tigers and a young  upcoming team, The Lucky Sevens. In 1958, the Tigers lost their fourth, fifth and sixth hitters and broke up early in the season. This left the Lucky Sevens as the only good team. They did not do well against a combined team of Pleasant Avenue and Mott Street and never recovered. They broke up in early 1959. In two seasons, three good teams from the South Bronx were gone and now there were none. However, there were still good stickball players from these teams around.

In the summer of 1959, Saint(Julius Santos) who had managed the Tigers put a team together of ex Knights, Tigers and Lucky Sevens to go play Mott Street. This was the start of the South Bronx team that played into the 1970’s. Managers and Players changed over time, but this was the only good team still playing.

From this team came players who had a major roll in keeping stickball alive in the South Bronx and bringing it to other Cities. Guys like Meme(Meme Bautista) started and managed the 60 boys in the South Bronx, Bouncer brought stickball to Orlando, Wally Rivera and Jr. Rosario played major rolls in Miami and Bobby Ortiz brought it to San Diego. Most of this took place in the 1970’s when good stickball had just died in the South Bronx.

In 1984, Bobby Medina, who needs no introduction, brought his Miami team to Manhattan for a tournament and when they got there he was told they couldn’t play. They called Meme and for the next two days played the 60 Boys  in the street by PS60. This brought life back to stickball in the South Bronx and it took off from there. The next year the NYESL was started. I’m going to leave the early years of the NYESL to Bobby since he was part of it. A lot of the players today know Bobby as a Miami guy, but he came from the Bronx.

The leagues that play today what you call  “Bronx Style Stickball” have their roots back in the great South Bronx Teams of the 1950’s. I don’t know where the time went. It would be nice, if in about fifty years, a kid looking at some old stickball pictures could say: Hay! That’s my great grandfather playing stickball way back in 2010. Stickball is a great game. Enjoy it. -Kenny Lowman

Bouncer from the South Bronx (Hey, we dont always make contact!)