The Bronx Royals. 10 years in and the Bronx Royals have been able to hold it together through some tough times throughout the years. It’s very difficult to keep a team together for a decade but we are proud to do so. A lot of people don’t actually know how The Royals actually got its start. It all started out with a friendly conversation in my small room in my parent’s house where everyone seemed to always hang out. At the time every single one of us played on different teams. Eric and Darnell had been playing stickball for a few years now and did not play together on the same team although they spent all their free time together. Ruben had just started playing and was playing with my dad (Chino) on the Latin Dukes. I myself had just finished playing my first year at the young age of 14 with The Bandits. We were watching the Yankees play the Royals (of course) when one of us goes; “Why are we playing on different teams, let’s play together”. That’s the moment that changed everything. It wasn’t easy at first. Eric was playing with the Emperors and was coming off a successful season where they had just won the Memorial Day Championship (which happened to be aired on News 12) so one can imagine it wasn’t an easy decision to leave that situation but we definitely persuaded him. We decided to call the team “The Royals” because of the irony of the Yankees playing them at that moment and of course because we really like their colors. We then started to fill the team in. My cousin Big Ralph (Free3) and Frank Nitti (Family Friend) had also been playing stickball as members of the Latin Dukes therefore they help start this foundation. We then looked to a close friend in Jose Marte (Dominicano) who lived on the same street as us. My father then mentions Eddie Espada who was with the Gold but did not play regularly to play with us as well. And there you have it; The Royals were created.
Fast forward 10 years and The Royals have consistently been in the top half of the league. Powered by fiery personalities combined with a will to win; The Royals have always found a way to come to the BLVD and field a very competitive team. Every team has had their bumps and bruises and the Royals are no different. It has certainly been a roller coaster ride and we have fielded some great teams over the years. We have seen the emergence of some young players grow into their own as well as the adoption of some young players creating their own legacy. We have had great players go on their own way that we still hold a great relationship with. However we always find a way to put it together and field a competitive team. 2014 had it’s share of ups and downs but the biggest moment came when we learned that we were losing some good friends and some quality ball players in Adam, Frankie, Petey and Eddie for 2015. This forced us to understand our roots and where we came from. Eric, Ruben, Darnell and myself decided we were not going to let this team fade away. We decided we were going to come back stronger than ever, this time with a new focus.
“We are really young and fast now with the guys we have. I truly feel our young guys are ready to take on the challenge “ says Ruben Rodriguez, the oldest player on the team at 32. In 2014 we saw the growth of Dave Hernandez at 2nd Base to where he has truly come into his own. We also added a young gun in Coree Lippold, who comes from a true bloodline of stickball players with BOTH his parents actually playing the game we all love. We were excited to learn that we will have one of our original members returning, Jose Marte. At one point Jose was one of the most feared hitters on the Royals, so being excited to have him back is an understatement. We are also welcoming back Rade Inoa who played with us before and for those who remember him, you know not to hit it his way. We also acquired young Skylar Mercado who is sure to add some pop to an already potent lineup. We are excited to have him join the team when his Baseball season finishes. Returning as well is the now veteran Christian Lozano who when he is on, has proven he can rake and field with the best in the league. Darnell returns with his sweet lefty swing coming off of a great season. Ruben and Kevin also return coming off of arguably their best seasons at the plate. It also doesn’t hurt to have Eric returning at Short Stop who was the best hitter in the NYESL for the 2014 season. “We are as excited as ever for 2015 entering the league with the youngest team on the BLVD” says Eric Santana. The Royals would like to thank Burkes Sports Bar and Nike for their contributions to the 2015 season!
The Stickball Tribune Part 5