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Class of 2004
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2004 Stickball Hall of Fame Inductions

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Paul Ortiz, Vinnie Vasquez, John 'Hector' Arroyo, Carlos Diaz, Charlie Ballard, Orlando Marin, Bennie Brugman 
This year marked the fifth occassion in which the Stickball Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony at the Museum of the City of New York. While all the events have their special moments, this year's induction was probably the most emotional, largely due to the passing of John Stephens, one of the true legends and gentlemen of the game as well as of Noco Aromi another highly liked player/fan.

As has been the Hall of Fame's tradition, the day's actvities began with a stickball clinic for neighborhood kids and was followed with a game between a squad of regular players against the Con Ed. team. Con Edison showed a marked improvement over their previous play and in fact won the game.

The formal presentations began with declarations from local political representatives congratulating the players and the Hall of Fame board. Once the induction ceremonies commenced, the weight of the recent loss to the Stickball community could be clearly felt. John and Noco's large and loving families were in attendance listening to and contributing heartfelt speeches. After the special awards were given to the families, the ceremonies proceeded honoring this year's talented crop of inductees (see class of 2004)

The inductees speeches were short and to the point. Paul Ortiz spoke both of his experiences on the field and as an educator, focusing on the importance for youth to obtain a strong education in order to succeed in the world. Orlando Marin, the most well known of this year's inductees (except for Willie Randolph, whose award was more ceremonial) brought some humor into the event, harking back to his experiences as a young man combining the lifestyle of both a stickball player and up and coming musician.

As the final award of the evening, Charlie Ballard was was honored for his lifetime of devotion to the game. Charlie had been overcome with feeling earlier in the ceremony when he spoke about John and their shared history. When Charlie received his award, many of us in the audience felt a similar depth of emotion, in touch with our recent loss and in appreciation for the man standing there in front of us.

When the players reminesce about this game, they speak of the sense of community they share and how deeply they cherish the sport of their youth. The depth of that feeling was evident in this occassion and it will be remembered by anyone who had the opportunity to be present.

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John Stephens' family.
John Stephens' family
Noco Aromi's family
Noco Aromi's family
Con Edison Team
Con Edison Team

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