Stickball is back. This past Sunday the NYESL made its glorious return to the blacktop to kick off the 2014 season. After braving one of the most brutal winters in recent memory, the weather couldn’t have gotten any better in welcoming back your stickball heroes. But before the games got started, the NYESL took a moment to honor the Stickball players who are no longer with us today. The league honored Henry “Papi” Caban and Coach Manny with a moment a silence, and also took the time to remember Ralph “Daddy” Pena, who is still recovering from an accident suffered during the winter. The league also got together to wish James Saylor, son of Artie from the Ravens, good luck on joining the Marines. Each team presented him with signed shirts to remember them by.
The league also took the time to celebrate and honor the teams and players who excelled during the 2013 season. The Gold was presented with their 2013 Championship trophy after another successful title defense. Leland, who battled injuries and played with short-handed lineups all year, was presented with the runner up trophy. The Ravens struggled a bit throughout the 2013 season, but made a run towards the end of the year and took 3rd place overall.
The league then awarded the most coveted individual award for the 2013 season. Angel “Dusty” Quinones was presented with the 2013 Most Valuable Player Award. On top of his always stellar defense, Dusty dominated at the plate hitting over .500 and recording 8 homeruns and 30 RBI’s.
Next the league took the time to honor the best defensive players from the 2013 season with the prestigious Golden Hands awards. We all know defense wins championships, and these players all excelled in making even the toughest plays look routine. The 2013 recipients were as follows : Ferdi German (1B Leland Legends), Anthony Rosado (2B Emperors), Eddie F. Rodriguez (SS Leland Legends), Anthony Caban (3B Emperors), Angel Quinones (OF The Gold), Christian Lozano (OF Royals), Vido Creales (OF Emperors), Edwin Rodriguez (OF Leland Legends).
Ralph Martinez of the Gold was presented with the brotherhood award for his contributions and accomplishments in what has been a tremendous stickball career. The league also presented a Most Improved player award to an individual from each team who took their game to another level this past season. Josh Infante (The Gold), Warren “Black” Wilkerson (Leland Legends), Ricky Torres (Emperors), Kevin Santana (Royals), Mark Candelaria (D’Backs), Juan “Lefty” Mills (Jersey Saints) and Nelson Roldan (Ravens) were all present with trophies.
And now on to the action…
Royals 5 vs D’Backs 4– The Royals and D’Backs always manage to play exciting games. The season opener was no different. The new looks D’Backs showed off their new acquisitions, Naz, Anthony, and Brandon from the now disbanded Stem, while the Jonathan Marrero formerly of the Bandits and Davey Hernandez, formerly of Stem, made their Royals debuts. This game was scoreless after 5 as both teams had to shake off some rust. But the Royals struck for 5 runs in the top of the 6th after the D’Backs failed to capitalize on a 5th inning rally, leaving runners on second and third with no outs. Kevin Santana started the fireworks with 2-run single, followed by Rubens 2-run triple, and Petey’s RBI double. But the D’Backs did not go quietly. They mounted a bottom of the seventh inning comeback. Down to their last out, Lionel hit an RBI double to keep the D’Backs alive. Naz kept the momentum going with a 2-run single, and Martin made the Royals sweat with an RBI single. But the rally fell short and the Royals hung on for the W.
Leland 4 Vs Emperors 3– The Emperors looked to be in control of this one from the start. Coming off their Columbus day Victory, the Emperors are looking to add more trophies to their trophy case this year. Eric got the offense going with an RBI double in the 3rd, followed by Cabans 2-run single. Jay put Leland on the board with an RBI single in the 5th, but Leland trailed 3-1 going into the final inning and things weren’t looking good. But Lelands bats came to life just in the nick of time. After consecutive hits to start the inning, Izzy closed the gap with a sac fly, and Jay added to his big day with a clutch 2 RBI hit. Leland took the lead and then the defense shut the door on the Emperors.
Royals 8 vs Saints 4– The Saint come into the 2014 season looking to prove that their 17 wins from a season ago wasn’t an aberration, but they ran into hot Royals bats, who were looking to keep the offense rolling after getting hot late in their first game. Kevin and Petey each had RBI singles in the first, then Darnell, Eric, and Kevin added RBI’s in the second. Things got worse for the Saints in the 4th inning as Darnell, Eric, and Ruben extended the lead to 8-0 with an RBI a piece in the inning. By the time the Saints offense woke up, it was too little too late. Pete Jr. did his best to try and bring the Saints closer in the 6th with a 3-run HR. Mick added another RBI in the seventh, but that would be all for the Saints as they dropped their season opener.
Emperors 4 vs Ravens 0– The Emperors dropped a heart breaker in their first game looked to get back on track in their second game against the Ravens. Chungo got the Emperors on the board in the second with a 2-run hit, and the Emperors extended the lead to 4-0 with Vido’s RBI triple, and Mikes RBI double. That was more than enough for the Emperors as the Ravens had a game to forget. Newly acquired Austin Mercado led off the game with a hit, and that was all the offense the Ravens could muster for the game. He was quickly doubled up, and the Ravens sent the minimum 21 hitters to plate for the game. This wasn’t the start the Ravens were looking for.
Jersey City Devils 12 vs D’Backs 5– The league welcomed a new team on the Blvd this weekend, and the Jersey City Devils, led by Will Pena and Lenny Satturia, were out to prove they belonged in their very first game and did not disappoint. The Devils scored early and often against a D’Back defense that looked lost at times. Bambino hit a HR in the first to score the first run in Devils history and the Devils never looked back. The D’Backs were out to prove there would be no upset on this day and answered back with 2 runs in the bottom half of the first to take the lead. Martin and Anthony each had RBI’s in the inning. But the Devils were not impressed and hit 5 extra base hits in the second leading to 5-runs, and the route was on. The Devils tacked on six more runs and won easily by a score of 12-5. Bambino led the Devils charge with 4 hits and 3 RBI’s. 7 Devils players accounts for runs driven in. Naz had 3 hits and 3 RBI for the D’Backs in the loss.
Gold 5 vs Ravens 2– The Gold opens the 2014 season looking to add to their already loaded trophy case. The Ravens were looking to right the ship after an embarrassing 1 hit shutout to start the season. Watts got the offense going in the 3rd with an RBI single. Carlos then made it 2-0 with an RBI single of his own. Chuchi capped off the scoring in the inning with a 3-Run HR. The Ravens offense was being shut again until the 6th inning when they finally ended the scoring drought. Brunson got the Ravens on the board with an RBI double and Dax added an RBI in the seventh. But that would be it for the Ravens as they dropped their second game of the day. The Gold started their title defense with a convincing win.
Jersey City Devils 1 vs Jersey Saints 1– After a successful inaugural game, the Devils set their eyes on the Saints, who wanted to redeem themselves after their loss to open the season. The two teams from Jersey are very familiar as most played with Pete from the Saints growing up. The Saints took the early 1-0 lead on Pete Jr’s RBI double in the first inning. The Saints held the 1-0 lead until the 5th, when Jay hit a solo HR for the Devils. Those were the only runs we would see in this one as they finished in a 1-1 tie. Lenny added 2 hits, and Mark had 3 hits of his own for the Devils. Jason and Gil each had 2 hits to lead the Saints.
Gold 1 vs Leland 0 – After successfully opening their title defense with a win, the Gold were looking to keep it going in a rematch of last year’s finals matchup against Leland. Leland was still riding high after their comeback win earlier in the day. Defense reigned supreme in this one. The Gold scored first, and last for that matter, with Carlitos RBI double in the bottom half of the first. He drove in Watts who hit a double earlier in the inning. The Gold defense took it from there as they held the usually potent Leland offense scoreless. Leland played stellar defense as well, holding the Gold to only 3 hits. But the Gold made those 3 hits count. Dave had 2 hits for Leland, who only totaled 3 hits for the game as well.
That does it for week 1. Stayed tuned later in the week the Week 2 preview.
See you gentlemen on the concrete next week…