The Gold Shine Brightly in the 2002 Stickball Classic
To begin with, in addition to the game on the street, there was a lot of sidewalk action. Tourists visiting midtown who chanced upon the event realized they were witnessing a New York tradition and stayed to enjoy the full experience. Native New Yorkers who passed by and were not too rushed were also pleasantly surprised at their good fortune and spent some time as well.
The Vanderbilt Avenue field also has some interesting characteristics. On the left field side, large buildings with detailed window columns framed the field causing any balls that hit them to richochet sharply and at unexpected angles off the wall.
Cement slabs, placed in protection of Grand Central which marked the right field side made it critical for the runner to be careful in overrunning first base, lest he crash into these thigh high barriers. Beyond the barriers are openings into the terminal. Any fair ball that finds its way into these oval openings becomes an automatic double. Above the openings is the deck which carries southbound Park Ave traffic past the old Pan Am building. Balls knocked up there can be lost (therefore foul and out) or bounce down into the street below where they remain fair and playable. In summary, when the Stickball Classic is in play, this usually busy thoroughfare displays a hidden charm as an excellent pin-ball like, bumper action, stickball field.
Still as enjoyable as location was, it still comes down to the game itself and spectators got a real treat to some great play (see photos of the day).
The first game was a match-up between the Brooklyn Knights and the Gold, a Bronx based team that won the 2001 San Diego Labor Day tournament and this year's Memorial Day tournament up at Stickball Blvd. Pete Santiago connected for a massive two run blast in the second inning, to enable The Gold to pull ahead. Although the Knights cut the deficit to one run, they left a number of runners on base and were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. The result was that the Gold defeated the Knights 3-1.
In the final game, between the Gold and the Bronx Emperors, the Gold's
Carlos Santiago (no relation to Pete), opened the game with a deep lead-off
home run. The Emperors were unable to get any offense going at all and
the additional run that the Gold added in the fourth, was more than enough
to clench their 2-0 victory. Add another notch to the Gold's belt of recent
tournament victories and their claim to being the top Stickball team in
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A special thanks to the Daily News
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