The Stickball Hall of Fame's 2004 Inductees
This year seven players were inducted to the Stickball Hall of Fame. They include:
Special Note - In previous years, Streetplay.com wrote the descriptions of the inductees stickball experience. This year's bios were supplied by the Stickball Hall of Fame and were written directly by the players themselves. A special thanks to Pedro Herrera for his work with the Stickball HOF and his assistance to the players in this process.
John “Hector” Arroyo
Stickball was a game played in all the Boroughs of New York City. I will write about it as it was played in El Barrio, as I recalled it. I remember at the age of eight, I happened to be walking on 114th street toward La Marqueta. I saw some tennagerss batting a rubber ball and catching with some funny gloves. The bats were parts of an old broom stick. The bases were drawn on the street with chunks of plaster from old tenements’ walls. I was impressed how far they hit the ball from one corner of the block to the other. Soon after, I got interested in learning to play stickball.
At the time, the streets didn’t have many cars parked on both sides as there is today. There was plenty of room between them to play. Most of the time, if a car was in the way, the guys would open the door, release the parking brakes and push it somewhere else. Once in a while a horse drawn cart would come down the street and hold up the game. No one wanted to hit a horse with a rubber ball because it might strampede the horse.
The first of many ‘Money Games’ that I saw, were played on 114th street. It was played on Sundays, and the blocks would get crowded with people coming to be on ‘The Italians’ or ‘The Home Reliefs’. The pot would reach $100.00 per team, that was a lot of money back then. The pot was always held by a neutral party, because if there were arguments, the teams that were losing would run away without paying. Sometimes the police would come down the street and break up the games by breaking the sticks. I remember the nicknames given by the neighborhood to 2 cops, they were, ‘Cara de Palo’ (Wood face) and ‘Veneno’ (Poison).
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In 1943 my family moved to the Bronx, I started playing stickball on Tinton and 158th Street with a team called the Royals. One day we played a game with the Jackson Knights, I had one of my greatest days I hit a couple of home runs made some spectacular catches with a first baseman’s glove even though I was playing the outfield. A few days later the Jackson Knights asked me to play for them. I played with some of the best players in the Bronx, Robert “Tito” Santana, Harry Lopez, Hernry Garcia and Joe Pagola. We played against some of the great teams of the time, The Devils, Mott Street, P.R. Dukles from Wales, the Lucky Sevens and the Tiffany Street Boas who were the first stickball team that I saw that played without gloves.
I joined the service in 1947 and returned in 1950 and resumed playing with the Jackson Knights until 1954. In 1960 I used to play with the old timers. Manny Cepeda, Charlie Ballard, Bi Tex , Tony Lopez and Joito.
In 1989, I moved to Tampa, Florida where I helped a stickball team named the Tampa Lightning to get started. In 1995 we started talking about an old-timers Tournament, we formed a committee that consists of two Hall of Fame Members, Big Cherokee and Little Cherokee. In 1996 we had our first Old Timers Tournament which has been getting bigger and better each year. The April 2004 Old Timers Tournament was our 9th.
I started playing stickball when I moved to Dawson and Longwood in 1945. By 1947 my friend, Raul Pimentel and I organized a team on Beck Street and Longwood called the Sparrows. This team soon became the Jr Hurricanes who played on Dawson Street. We later moved to Kelly and Longwood. We had to play the team on the block for the field and won. We then changed our name to the Archers, by this time I was 15 years old. We played such teams as the Jackson Knights, The Rockets, The Lightings and the Lucky 7s to name a few these also included the black team at P.S. 60. By this time I had gotten involved with the Timbales and my local friends and I organized a band.
I was thrown out of the Archers, which I had organized because I went to a musical rehearsal and had missed a team meeting. They never asked me back so I decided to play with anyone who wanted me. It was a great opportunity for me because I played with every team in the Bronx including most of the ones that I had previously named. I was the first white stickball player to play on the black team as P.S. 60.
Eventually I was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Korea from 1958-1960. I was the leader and organizer of the team called “Los Musicos.”
I was one of the founders of the Emperors League. I played for some years after winning the championship. I performed with my band for many of the celebrations, and had many wonderful friends. I also hustled all of those guys between games on the handball court (For Money !!!) I continue to play now in Florida.
Special Note - See Stickball Mambo, an article about Orlando Marin and his musical roots written for Streetplay by Elena Martinez and posted in 2002.
Paul J. Ortiz
Although most of my stickball experience has been in hitting-by-yourself style of play, I learned to appreciate the pitching-in side of the game during my last year of living in New York. I had begun to regularly show up during the fall and winter of 1999 and early spring of 2000 near Roosevelt High School to learn and play pitching-in games with the Bronx Old Timer's group which included some of the games most well known contributors including men such as Charlie Ballard, John Stevens, Charlie Diaz and others like Vito, Speedy, and Lolin. Not only did I learn the pitching-in game from the Oldtimers, but I came to appreciate their love and passion for the sport and saw first-hand the camaraderie that they shared. I still feel indebted to these men for their patience in teaching him how the game of stickball was originally played, and believes he became a better player because of this experience.
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Ha estado con migo mi hijo alexis, que juega y se desliza como su padre en sus tiempoos. En el tiempo libre tenemos unos muchachos que le damos clinica y un equipo del proyecto. cuando no pueda, estara mi hijo alexis jugando en nueva york, donde esta la crema del “stickball.”
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Playing Career Played for the Yankees, the last Yankee team to appear in the World Series prior to 1996…along with Ron Guidry, Randolph was named Yankee Co-Captain on 3/4/86…played more games at 2B (2,688) than any other Yankee in history…ranks among the all-time Yankee lkeaders in games (1,694), at-bats (6,303), runs (1,027), hits (1,731), doubles (259), triples (58) and stolen bases (251)…played 18 years at second base in the Major Leagues, including 13 years with the Yankees…was a career .276 hitter with 54 HR, 687 RBI and 1,239 R in his career with the Pirates, Yankees, Dodger’s, A’s, Brewers, and Mets…in 1989, he was named the Dodgers Most Valuable Player by the Anaheim/Los Angeles chapter of the BBWAA…had his best year in 1987, when he hit .305 with 67 RBI and 96 R for the Yankees…hit a career high .327 in 1991 with Milwaukee, finishing third in the American League batting race…hit .222 in 47 post-season games…in 1976, he became the first rookie to be placed on the All-Star ballot hit .286 in five All-Star appearances…finished his career with the Mets in 1992, hitting .252 with 15 RBI in 90 games.
Yankee Coaching Enters in his 10th season as the Third-Base coach for the Yankees…made his sixth appearance as an All-Star coach in 7/9/02 at Milwaukee (also ’95, ’97, ’99, ’00 and 2001)…named Third-Base Coach on 10/14/93 after spending the 1993 season in the Yankee front office as an Assistant General Manager.
A note from Streetplay staff. In addition to being honored for his great baseball career and the general respect from NY fans, Willie Randolph has helped promote the sport of stickball by appearing at Stickball Classic kickoff events.
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Vicente “Vinny” Vasquez
My High School years were spent in Queens Vocational High School. I started playing stickball in 1955 with the Acclets on 117th street between Lexington and Park Ave. From 1959-1964 I played stickball with the American Boys on 118th street between Lexington and Park Ave. I played with Candito, Flaco, Negrito, Chato, Eddie Goldie, Kickie, Speedy and Mambo Henry.
In 1964 I got married and lived in the Bronx, I played softball with the Red Legs. I worked as a civilian with the Police Department at the 110th Precinct in Queens.
From 1969-1971 I was drafted during the Vietnam War and was blessed to serve one of the two years overseas in Germany.
In 1971 I went back to work for the police department and in May 1971 I was employed in the New York City Transit Department where I worked for 22 1/2 years and then retired in 1993. While in the Transit I played softball with the Hawks, where I won two MVP and two Batting Titles.
In 1985 I went back to stickball where I played on the Minotaurs with Papo, Viceroy, Lickie, Charlie Horse and Dynamite. While with the Minotaurs the team became two teams and I played on the Minotaurs 2 where I won MVP trophies in 1986 and 1987. In 1988, I was the runner up for the batting title.
In 1989 I had a heart attack but fortunately I was able to participate in the playoffs in 1989 and played from 1989-1994. In 1994, I was awarded outstanding player and sportsmanship by Moe from the Barrio Boys.
In November of 1994 my wife’s job transferred her to West Palm Beach, Florida where we moved leaving my 21 year old son behind at home and dragging a very unhappy 16 year old daughter with us.
From 1994-2001 I played stickball with the Sharks in Miami. In 2001 I got a part time job in a golf pro shop and picked up the game. I made four holes in one and came in second seed on a presidential cup. Every year I look forward to the Old Timer’s game in New York to see all my friends.
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