The Stickball Tribune Part 6: Leland Legends

Family and Friends; this is the first thing that comes to mind when I was thinking about how I was going to write about the Leland Legends.  Most of us know how Leland got its start.  A few players from the Emperors decided it was time to split and create their own team (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?).  After playing with the Emperors for some time and actually finding success as well (winning 9 championships is a success in my book) Eddie F. and John Ayala (Boobie) decided it was time to branch off to start their own tradition with their family and lifelong friends.  Their name says it all.  “It was important to have the name of the place we grew up and to represent our lost brother George who passed away in 1992” Says Boobie.  George was a lifelong friend to this group and they continue to honor him in every way they can by saying a tribute to him or simply adding “George Lives” to their actual logo on their uniforms.  Leland got started with 3 everyday players in Eddie F., Boobie and his brother Lenny who no longer plays stickball.  They decided they were truly going to do this and started building their team with family and friends that they considered close.  Dave also joined them coming from The Emperors and Eddie F. was excited to get his son, Edwin, started and have him learn the game.  Before Leland was created, another close friend, Warren (AKA Black), didn’t play too much and they wanted to give him a shot at this game as well.  And there you have it; the Leland Legends were created. 

Just like all other teams, Leland has had its share of players come and go but their core players are what truly hold this team together.  Eddie F. is truly a veteran and continues to be one of the top Short Stops in the league.  In fact it was because of players like him and Steve Gold that I decided to learn how to hit the opposite way (I was tired of being robbed of hits lol).  Dave has been consistent his entire career and is a big threat at the plate year in and year out.  Edwin has emerged over the years as one of the best outfielders in the league and has told me “This year things will be different.  I’m not hitting in the wrong spot in the line up and I just feel like things will be a lot better at the plate for me this year”.  Boobie returns to Leland full time and looks to have a great season to continue to contribute as much as he can.  Ferdi is very under rated in my book and continues to be one of the leaders on this team.  Izzy (former Royal) has had resurgence in the past few years and continues to be an anchor in the lineup.  Outside of their core group the Legends are excited to bring back big Lou this season.  He is definitely someone they are relying on to have a big year and be the big stick in the lineup.  

Leland also lost a big piece this year in Jason.  Jason has been with Leland for years now and has not only gotten better each year but provides veteran skills and seems to always come through in the clutch whether its on the field or at the plate.  Jason left Leland to join long time friend Russell (former Leland player) on the newly formed Brew Crew. 

“Since 2006 we are only second to The Gold in wins.  They have 158; we have 150”.  One thing that separates The Gold from Leland of course is championships.  Leland has made it all the way to an NYESL championship game (including season and MDT) 5 or 6 times but cannot seam to get over the hump and actually win one.  “We look to change that outcome this year and come out on top” says Eddie F.  Only time will tell.  Leland had its first taste of a championship in Puerto Rico for a Labor Day Tournament.  Under unfortunate cir*****stances, Eddie F. and his son Edwin had to return home to be with their family due to the death of Jeremiah, Eddie F.’s grandson (May he RIP).  The rest of the team, led by Vido Creales of the Emperors, including members of the D-Backs (Lionel), Royals (Christian and Kevin) and Brooklyn, worked hard and played with a purpose to finish the fight in Puerto Rico for the first championship under the Leland Banner.  However Leland wants to finally put it together and win won in the NYESL. 

“We are on a mission and the bloodline continues with the addition of my son Jayden who is 14 and was the youngest player to ever play in the MDT at 10 years old” says Boobie.  He’s excited to continue to carry this tradition for Leland who truly holds family important to the team.  Edwin has two sons that I’m sure he can’t wait until they older to play with them like he plays with his dad.  Boobies daughter Icis is looking to be the next female player in the NYESL following in Jen Lippolds footsteps.  Not to mention Lil Warren and Jaysean right behind them.  Family is important to this team and their farm system is definitely something to be jealous of!

Leland is excited to bring in 2015 and work at being on top of the standings once again.  “With Wayne coming back and the team we have there is no reason why we cannot compete for a championship once again” says Eddie F.  Good luck to Leland and only time will tell for this team and their goals!

The Stickball Tribune Part 6

Kevin