Carlos Diaz is a player/manager for the Bronx Old Timers. While Carlos prides himself for his game, he is playing an increasingly important role in helping to spread awareness of the sport. "I really think this is a game that should be taught to kids in the schools in New York and other cities," he said. "It's easy to learn, but if taught right it can help strengthen kids sense of community and accomplishment."
Born in 1950, Carlos began playing stickball as a kid on his block at 111th street between Park and Lex. "We'd play stickball in the street or boxball in the schoolyards," he recalls. For competitive games, I'd usually play with the Young Legends from 110th street. In High School we started competing with guys from the other blocks and then got into playing softball."
Softball remained Carlos' main game throughout the late 60s. In fact the thing that got him back into stickball was his job.
"Back in the '70s I was working in the public relations area of the Metropolitan Public Hospital," he said. "The hospital was one of the supporters for the 111th Street Old Timers Weekend, where people from all over the country returned to the neighborhood to see their friends and play some ball. I helped with the publicity and enjoyed the activities as well. I realized that I was having so much fun playing ball that I started coming down to play at other scheduled games. That's when Charlie Ballard recruited me into the Bronx Old-Timers team and I became the youngest Old Timer around."
During the '80's there were some major events, such as the World Series of Stickball organized by William Pizzaro, Pete Velez and Charlie Rivera. A couple of NY stickball leagues also formed and the Bronx Old-Timers entered the International Stickball League in Manhattan. I played with them and also with the Minatours, who were from my neighborhood. I later took over the role as coach for the Old Timers as well."
"The different leagues and events helped bring stickball more public recognition. Then in the '90s several of us approached the Museum of the City of NY to see if they would establish the Stickball Hall of Fame. They created an exhibit of photos and stories about the game, which was very well attended. We've been working with them now to make it a permanent part of their collection. It will be launched this summer over the July 4th weekend as part of the festivities surrounding the World Series of Stickball."
Carlos has a somewhat philosophical view about his current efforts in the stickball arena. "I take pride in my playing even through I've put on a few pounds and lost a few steps. But I think my main role is helping the game grow, and for that, my best years are still ahead of me."
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