NEW YORK -- River Avenue in the Bronx is more than just a street that sells Yankees memorabilia and has Yankee Stadium in its backyard.As part of the Play Ball initiative, the New York Emperors Stickball League, along with Major League Baseball and the Yankees, put on a stickball event
NEW YORK -- River Avenue in the Bronx is more than just a street that sells Yankees memorabilia and has Yankee Stadium in its backyard.
As part of the Play Ball initiative, the New York Emperors Stickball League, along with Major League Baseball and the Yankees, put on a stickball event under the No. 4 elevated train line on Saturday. Kids from ages 10-14 were invited to come out to participate in a tournament and enjoy the game from which baseball originated.
The event featured competition between four stickball teams, with preliminaries being held Saturday. In the first game, Royal Blue defeated Sky Blue, while the Red team and Royal Blue ended in a tie.
The semifinal and championship rounds are Saturday, Sept. 22. The winners of the championship round will be recognized in a pregame ceremony prior to the Yankees' 4:05 p.m. ET game vs. the Baltimore Orioles that day.
No matter who wins the title, the kids get to enjoy the game and make new friends, according to New York Emperors Stickball coordinator Jennifer Lippold.
"This game helps us get along, in terms of our kids, they learn to appreciate sportsmanship, appreciate family in a sports venue," Lippold said. "We have wives, husbands, we have generations of families who play this game every Sunday in our league and participate, so getting families involved, seeing so many parents bring their kids to participate, is awesome. It allows us to join in and see our kids grow within the game.
"Also, our kids love it. [They] high-five, [experience] positive competition -- but there's a lot of trash talking in between, trust me -- and it allows the kids to appreciate, after the game is done, we're all cool, we're all friends, but we're going to compete and celebrate our efforts."
One participant, Tyler, hit a double in the first game. To him, it didn't matter who won. All Tyler wanted to do was have fun.
"I focus, I block out all outside distractions because my dad plays it and one day, I want to play with him," Tyler said.
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.