Warwick stickball players hark back to their younger days


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BY ROGER GAVAN

WARWICK - No one had to dodge traffic or police officers who might confiscate their broom handle bats and Spaldeens.

But other than that, the Warwick Grove Stickball League's 2018 season, held at the Park Avenue School parking lot on Saturdays, was just how the players remembered the game when they were growing up in the five boroughs of New York City.

And it was not uncommon now as well as in the old days, for a player to make a "sewer save" when the ball bounced dangerously close to a street water drain.

The stickball league, now in its 11th season, was the brainchild of Ron Genovese, a Warwick Grove resident who was raised in Manhattan, and his friend Teddy Kastanis, a native of Brooklyn.

"Back then Teddy and I were having breakfast at the Country Dream," recalled Genovese. "We call that a "Romeo, which stands for retired old men eating out. And we were talking about playing stickball as kids and how we missed those days and hadn't played again in over 50 years. We decided to do something about that and here we are."

Teddy Kastanis has since moved out of this area but this year Genovese and 28 players signed on and for many of them, like fellow charter players Andy Capul and Don Rochford, it's been much longer than 50 years.

Before each game the League members name opposing teams A and B and just like the old days, they can still select players by tossing the stick bat in the air, catching it and placing hand over hand on the bat to decide which team captain gets first pick.

"When you're 60 years old and you play golf you feel like 60," said Genovese. "But when you're 60 years old or more and you play stickball, you feel like 16."

This year's season may be extended to September 8 after which the league will host a celebration and present awards including one for most valuable player.

So far the 2018 season has been a success.

"The hitting and catching was much better," said Genovese, "and no one was hurt."

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PHOTO PROVIDED

The Warwick Grove Stickball League players at the beginning of the 2018 season.

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