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Player: Mario Rufo   Team: The Rufo Brothers

Mario Rufo Click for bigger picture
Mario Rufo
Legend was that the Rufo's were a great west side team made up of 7 brothers, each one better than the next. In truth the team was composed of 5 brothers, a cousin and some of their friends, but that's close enough. The Rufo's made Stickball a family affair.

The Rufo brothers were based on West 66th St. According to Mario, the youngest (and some say the best player) of the group, "We had a fantastic field. It was long, clear and had a dead end on one side. Also, you couldn't knock it out because the buildings on each side were tall. Traffic was very light particularly on Sunday mornings when we'd play. The only vehicles were the trucks from the Knickerbocker ice company that bordered the block. Remember back then no one had air conditioning and most people didn't even have refrigerators, so Knickerbocker had a good business delivering blocks of ice to homes and stores all over town."

Mario's cousin Primo, another Hall of Famer added more about the team's use of the street "Before we started the game, we'd get the parked cars off the field. Sometimes a bunch of us would lift the car and move it to the side. Usually we'd just pop the lock, slip it into neutral and glide it downhill into a little underpass by 12th (West End) Ave. The cops knew about it and when people went down to the precinct to report that their cars were stolen from that block, the cops would just tell them to check our little parking area."

The Rufos were known throughout the city. Mario recalls "We traveled all over Manhattan and the Bronx playing other teams. Each team had a different type of field and rules to go along with it. There were other obstacles too. I remember one time when Primo got bit by a dog up in the Bronx as he was running to first base."

Its hard to say who was the best team around says Mario, but we definitely won more than we lost and that meant we got more money from playing than we put in. Eddie Ack, a former competitor who played for the White Horse bar on 53rd street remembers losing to the Rufos one week and getting ready for the re-match. My buddy came up to me and asked me if I'd take his ring into the pawnshop to get money for the game. It was a really nice one, gold with a stone in it. I went in and sure enough the shop owner paid me a hundred bucks, which we used for the bet. The only problem was we lost! I don't know if my pal every got that ring back."

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