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 Tri-City ValleyCats

Troy Summer Stickball Tournament Announced

May 22, 2008 - New York-Penn League (NYPL)
Tri-City ValleyCats News Release

TROY, NY - Stickball is returning to the city streets this summer. An estimated fifty teams of six players each will participate in a September tournament, with all proceeds going to charity. "We are taking a game that people played in this neighborhood growing up and bringing back this recreation to raise funds for youth programs in Troy," said Rocco DeFazio, founder of the Friends of Little Italy.

The sport of stickball, which is most popular in Northeastern urban centers, is played using a broom handle that acts as a "bat" and a rubber ball, sometimes referred to as a "spaldeen", or "pinky". Exact rules vary depending on a particular game's location but most of the game's ground rules come from baseball. There are three basic forms of stickball including fast pitching against a wall, slow-pitch bounce pitching and self-hitting. The offense doesn't run the bases, as hits and runs are determined by "automatics."

The summer of stickball will kick-off with a home run hitting demonstration and exhibition game at "The Joe" on Wednesday July 9, prior to Mayor Tutunjian Bobblehead Night at the ValleyCats. At that time, teams will have the opportunity to register in the tournament. On Monday August 18, another stickball demonstration will take place at the Downtown Troy riverfront during the New York-Penn League All-Star Fan Fest, as professional baseball's top stars visit Troy. This date also marks the end of early registration for the tournament.

On September 12, the stickball tournament will commence. Two days later, a champion will be crowned. Teams will participate in a double-elimination contest that will take place throughout several sites in the downtown area with the Troy Marketplace in Little Italy serving as the event's "home field."

"The ValleyCats are constantly promoting the game of baseball to the youth and always looking to improve the community through various fundraising efforts" said Rick Murphy, ValleyCats Vice President/General Manager, who is optimistic about the event. "This program could help to achieve both of those goals."

The game of stickball played an influential role in many young people's lives as they grew up, including former Major League Baseball players Willie Mays, Joe Torre, Phil Rizzuto, and Willie Randolph. Mays once said of stickball, "That's how I learned to hit the curve ball. Guys would bounce the ball to you, and you'd have to hit it, and sometimes it would bounce this way, that way. That's a breaking ball."

Early word-of-mouth response has been positive, and likely participants in the tournament include teams from local businesses and colleges. For more information concerning exhibition events or the stickball tournament, please contact Rocco DeFazio.

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