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Good as Gold - 2006 Memorial Day Tournament
- Special to Streetplay by Greg West

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The Gold take another major tournament
It was perfect weather for a great weekend of stickball at the 2006 NY Emperors Memorial Day tournament in the Bronx. Fifteen teams entered the competition including seven from outside of New York City. There were three teams from Florida, two from San Diego, the defending champs from Puerto Rico and a team comprised of old-time legends with members from every locale.

Saturday morning kicked off with an exhibition game for the little ones. The kids had a great time and the adults saw that stickball will be in good hands for years to come. Kevin Santana, the student who received a scholarship from the NYESL for his outstanding work in the classroom, followed the game by reading an award-winning essay about the great game of stickball. There was a moment of silence for a few stickball players who are in everyone’s hearts. Jim Strickland of the San Diego Whompers then said a nice prayer and after that it was game time.

Each team played six games over Saturday and Sunday to determine who would move on to play in the eight-team single elimination playoffs on Monday. After Sunday's round-robin, the tournament directors tallied up the records and announced the top eight seeds who qualified for Monday's finals. They included:

  1. Gold
  2. GH Bombers
  3. Puerto Rico
  4. Royals
  5. Emperors
  6. FL Vikings
  7. SD Whompers
  8. Bklyn Knights
The teams that didn’t advance were SD Youngstars, BX Bandits, BX Knights, Orlando Sunshine, Miami Heat, Leland Legends and the Titans.

Monday morning came and that meant lose and go home, win and move on to the next round. In the 10am games the Emperors defeated the Royals 4-1 and avenged the Round Robin loss that they suffered to the Royals over the weekend. The other 10am game matched the defending champs Puerto Rico vs. FL Vikings and the Vikings came up with the upset 3-2. In the 11am games the Gold crushed the Bklyn Knights 7-0. The other 11am game saw the 2nd seeded GH Bombers lose to the SD Whompers in a controversial ending. The game ended 4-1, but a call was argued for about 15 minutes and the SD Whompers had to come back onto the field to get the last out. Tito Rivera provided a quick scare with an RBI double but that would be all they got and the game ended 4-2.

Only one of the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals, and that was the Gold who would play the Whompers in a rematch of the 2005 Labor Day championship game in San Diego. The Gold beat the Whompers 4-2 behind some clutch hitting by tournament MVP Alex Torres. The Emperors took care of the Vikings 4-2, which meant another big matchup between two perennial stickball powerhouses, the Gold and Emperors. This game would mean a rematch of the 2005 NYESL championship game, which the Gold took to win the league championship.

After announcing the starting lineups, it was game time. The Emperors were the lower seed and batted first. They got on the board quick but only got one run, after it looked like they would get more. Vido was thrown out at the plate and ended the rally. It would stay 1-0 for a while, until the Gold put the pressure on and scored three runs in the fourth inning. The Gold would go onto win the game 4-2 and win another championship. The tournament was, as always, a huge success. Many thanks go out to Big Rich, Wayne, David, Vido and anyone else who had a hand in making this tournament what it is, the biggest stickball tournament around. The Gold gets the bragging rights for 365 days until next year when we do it all over again.

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