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The Stickball Hall of Fame's 2000 Inductees
This year 14 names were added to the Stickball Hall of Fame roster. Most of the inductees were players of the game. Some were not inducted for their playing, but for their long-term support of the sport. Below are bios of most of the inductees (we will post the other bios shortly).
Sonny "Scutch" Ferrara   Jose "Papo" Rodriguez
Billy Friend   Ralph Rodriguez
Harold Ghettis   Nelson Roldan
Sonny Johnson   Willie Rosario
Peter "Slick" Juras   Lou Russo
Jose Mandes   Albie Santiago, Jr.
Herman Noble   Willie Spooner

Billy Friend

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Hall of Fame inductee Billy Friend
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Billy began playing when he was 8 years old
There are not many 77 year olds who can still go out and play the game. Billy Friend can, he is one of, if not the oldest active stickball players. Billy Friend started playing stickball when he was eight years old. Now almost 70 years later, he is one of stickball's most senior active players.

As a teenager and young man, Billy played with the Swanees and Home Relief. Billy was serious about stickball, but was inactive for many years, being interrupted by World War II and later raising a family with 10 kids.

He started playing stickball regularly again during the 70s and 80s, in the Bronx with the Flat Tires in the Emperors Stickball League. Billy joined the Knights after the flat tires broke up.

Billy describes himself as a singles hitter, and a good fielder. He said "I love this game and wouldn't give it up for anything."

Harold Ghettis

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Harold was one of the great ballplayers on the West side's LaSalle Street Boys. He was a tremendous left handed hitter. When he was up and you were playing 1st base you put your hands in front of your face, not on your knees because you knew the ball was coming in a hurry.

Harold was one of the top stickball players of the '30s and '40s. A good fielder, tremendous hitter, all around good ball player and a gentleman. We should also recall that Harold was a veteran of WWII who served in both the European and Pacific theatre.

Harold passed away several years but the Hall of Fame would not have been complete without him.

Peter "Slick" Juras

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Hall of Fame inductee Slick Juras
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Peter "Slick" Juras
Slick has played for a number of years with the Ionas. First and foremost, Slick was and still is a great fielder; when he touches the ball it's out. He usually plays short outfield and really covers the ground out there. In addition he is a good hitter and had tremendous speed. He tended to hit line drives and would often use his speed to stretch a single into a double. You wouldn't throw behind Slick.

Slick isn't flamboyant. He is a quiet fellow, who doesn't say much. Quiet, but noticed on the ball field, Slick lets his playing do the talking.

Jose Mandes

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Hall of Fame inductee Jose Mandes
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Jose now manages the Tainos
Jose grew up in Brooklyn, in the south side of Williamsburg. He played with the Hatillo Tigers when he was about 14 and recalls going over to play by McCallen Park. He said "We'd also go down into Manhattan to play the Italian guys on Mott St. Games were usually a couple of dollars a man. Whoever won would buy the beers."

Jose was also a member of the Brooklyn Knights. He explained "I always played first cause I didn't like to run. I was good at catching and hitting line drives." Now living in Puerto Rico, he manages the Tainos (the original Indians from Puerto Rico). "We have perfect weather for playing," he said. "It's a long stickball season."

Herman Noble

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Herman and his wife Aurorea
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Herman and his wife Aurea
It was back in 1985 when Herman Noble was introduced to Stickball. A devoted softball player and member of the San Juan's Police Department Team, Herman had been invited to a game by Charlie Rivera (a.k.a. Superman). That was all it took, Herman was hooked and has been playing every Sunday since.

As a player, Herman is good is known for his good hands on the field and his skill at the plate, but his biggest contribution is his role in promoting the sport. Herman was in charge of the San Juan Police Department's sports division. In this role he organized stickball clinics, taking kids from the projects and introducing them to the game. His warmth and community commitment have helped bring the game to the next generation.

Jose "Papo" Rodriguez

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Papo and his son
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Papo and his son Louie
Jose Rodriguez, also known as "Papo" was born in Puerto Rico came to El Barrio when he was 6 and started playing stickball by the age of 8.

Papo was one of the originators of the Minotaurs in the early 50s and was actually the one responsible for coming up with the name. "We were up on the roof on a building at 114th street, thinking of a name for our new team," he said. "I brought up a dictionary and looked up the word Minotaurs. I thought it was a great symbol, half man, half bull so I convinced the other guys that this would be it."

Since 1985, he has been the manager. The Minotaurs won the 1995 east Harlem stickball league championship and played a key role in reviving stickball in East Harlem.

Nelson Roldan

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Nelson grew up playing stickball in the South Bronx. As a teenager he was on the Social Aces. Later he came over to the 60 Boys, one of the best teams of the '70s and early '80s.

Nelson was a mid-outfielder, with good hands. He was a fearsome hitter with a lot of power. Fellow teammates remember that "when he got a hold of a ball it was gone." His work at the Department of Sanitation (also known as New York's Strongest) probably helped him develop that power.

Nelson's oldest son, Nelson Jr. is a ball player for the Young Bloods, one of the finalist teams in the Stickball World Series and seems to have power just like Dad. Congratulations to this Hall of Fame inductee for not only being a great player, but for helping pass the tradition on to the next generation.

Willie Rosario

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Hall of Fame inductee Willie Rosario
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Willie at the Memorial Day Tournament
Willie grew up in Manhattan on 105th street. He started playing at about 12 and joined the Saints at the ripe age of 13. He recalls "I was still a kid, but my brother was on the team and they felt I could hold my own. In the late 50s Willie joined the Mambo Boys. He recalls "The Mambo Boys were a very good team, but they were destroyed by drugs, which had started moving into the neighborhood at that time."

"It was terrible to see what happened to these guys. It was terrible to see the ignorance and how people's lives got wasted. It also hurt the game of stickball and the sense of community."

Willie got back into stickball in the late '60's with the 105th street boys when Pete Velez began the Young Devils. Willie still likes to play and admits that while he might not hit as well as he used to, his fielding is still good.

Lou Russo

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Lou was a first baseman for Pleasant Ave, in the '40s through the '60s. A left hander, Lou was a hitter who really lifted that ball, connecting for tremendous high flies. The outfielders needed the infielder to point out where the ball went or send smoke signals so they could find it.

Lou was also an excellent fielder. Just as memorable was that he is a well liked even tempered guy. His even temperament was very appreciated because several of his fellow teammates tended to get a little overly emotional (particularly on some of the bigger games). Lou kept things in perspective. He played hard, but always enjoyed the game.

Albert Santiago Jr.

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Hall of Fame inductee Albert Santiago Jr.
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Albert is the youngest member of the Stickball Hall of Fame
Albert is the youngest member to be inducted into the Stickball Hall of Fame. At the ripe old age of 27, he is actually at the peak of his game. Albert has played on a number of great teams including the Young Devils of 115th street, La Familia and the Dynamiters. When he served in the army during the Devil Storm Operation, Albert's stickball career was put on hold. However, when he returned he played on several teams and is now one of the key players for The Gold.

Albert's mother recently passed away and so this honor is bittersweet. "This is a game that brought me and my family together. My mom was my best fan, the best Stickball mom ever, my dad is my idol. I always wanted to be as good as him. When he was in his prime I feel he was the best ever - and I hope to one day to be as good as he is"

Willie Spooner

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Willie Spooner has been around the game of stickball. We say around the game, because Willie has not been a player. He has been an all-star fan.

Willie was a good athlete and is remembered for his speed playing one-handed touch in the street, But he is being honored for being a friend of the players, someone cheering them on. Willie was one of originators of the Old Timer held for years at 118th and St. Nicholas.

Ralph Rodriguez

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Ralph's bio will be added shortly

Sonny "Scutch" Ferrara

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Sonny's bio will be added shortly

Sonny Johnson

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Sonny's bio will be added shortly

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