Photos of 2019 Labor Day Stickball Tournament!

Around noon today I spent some time in Little Italy watching the action-packed 2019 Labor Day Stickball Tournament. This very cool annual event seems to grow larger every year, attracting top stickball teams from across the country.

In 2019 the Labor Day Stickball Tournament features 18 teams, including three teams from New York and two teams from Florida. Everyone is competing to have their team name engraved on The Jillie Championship Trophy. San Diego’s own Whompers are the current champions.

During Labor Day weekend, games are played on four fields in Little Italy. It’s fun to watch pedestrians walking down a sidewalk in the field of play suddenly see a ball smashed past them! The looks of surprise!

As I watched one game beside the outfield on Columbia Street, near the San Diego Firehouse Museum, Big Lou came up and introduced himself to me. He’s a retired player who has been inducted into the New York Emperors Stickball League Hall of Fame. It’s his first time in San Diego.

Big Lou told me all about the history of stickball, it’s popularity on the East Coast and in Puerto Rico, and how generations of players have enjoyed the game. His love for the game was in his voice and in his eyes.

Enjoy some photos of the action…

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You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Action photos from Labor Day weekend stickball!

Today I enjoyed watching an action-packed game of stickball in Little Italy.

San Diego’s annual Labor Day weekend stickball tournament has become a big community event, with sponsors and media coverage and people on lawn chairs lining sidewalks watching players crush the spaldeen. A solid swing of the broom handle will launch the ball like a rubber rocket to the other end of the block!

When games are underway, I always make it a point to walk through Little Italy, so I can hang out for a bit and watch the stickball teams compete for fame and glory. The action is intense but it’s all in good fun.

I learned that this year the stickball teams are all local. The game I watched had a number of exciting plays.

Here come photos that capture a bit of the flavor…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Another fine summer walk in San Diego.

Six teams from California play stickball in Little Italy on a fine summer Sunday.
Six teams of firefighters from California play stickball in Little Italy on a fine summer Sunday.

My walk today began on Cortez Hill and proceeded down through Little Italy until I reached the Embarcadero. I then headed south along the water.

It’s a simple walk that never gets old.

Good times on Columbia Street.
Good times on Columbia Street.
Bayside Fire Station No. 2 is finally open!
Bayside Fire Station No. 2 is finally open!
A friendly firefighter told me the engines arrived on Friday!
A friendly firefighter told me the engines arrived on Friday!
Volunteers pull a huge rope together on the deck of Star of India.
Volunteers pull a huge rope together on the deck of Star of India.
Climbing into clouds of sail.
Climbing up into clouds of sail.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego exit from the Soviet submarine.
Visitors to the Maritime Museum of San Diego exit from the Soviet submarine.
More museum volunteers handling ropes and chains by the water.
More museum volunteers handling ropes and chains by the water.
The museum's longboat was out on San Diego Bay. An overcast but very pleasant start to the morning.
The museum’s longboat was out on San Diego Bay. An overcast but very pleasant start to the morning.
Two huge ships at the Cruise Ship Terminal. The superyacht Attessa IV and impressive U. S. Coast Guard cutter Healy (WAGB-20).
Two huge ships at the Cruise Ship Terminal. The superyacht Attessa IV and impressive U. S. Coast Guard cutter Healy (WAGB-20).
Someone rides a scooter along Broadway Pier past the Coast Guard's newest, most advanced polar icebreaker. I haven't spotted any ice off San Diego!
Someone rides a scooter along Broadway Pier past the Coast Guard’s newest, most advanced polar icebreaker. I haven’t spotted any ice off San Diego!
Family boards the Coronado Ferry near Broadway Pier.
Family boards a Coronado ferry near Broadway Pier.
Many people were out on the Embarcadero today enjoying wonderful San Diego.
Many people were out on the Embarcadero today enjoying wonderful San Diego.
America, replica of the racing yacht that won the first America's Cup, cruises past.
America, replica of the racing yacht that won the first America’s Cup, cruises past.
And so does a sailboat.
And so does a sailboat.
Walking above the shining water.
Walking and sitting above the shining water.
Creating music.
Creating music.
Out on a harbor cruise.
Out on a harbor cruise.
Simply standing by the blue water.
Simply standing by the blue water.
An easy float through the Marriott Marina.
An easy float through the Marriott Marina.
The San Diego Symphony is set up and ready to go for their outdoor summer concerts at Embarcadero Marina Park South.
The San Diego Symphony is set up and ready to go for their outdoor summer concerts at Embarcadero Marina Park South.
Bayside Summer Nights will feature lots of great concerts, and fireworks.
Bayside Summer Nights will feature lots of great concerts, and fireworks.
On the water in a boat, and above it on a pier.
On the water in a boat, and above it on a pier.
I see the Coronado Island Marriott Resort beyond those fisherman.
I see the Coronado Island Marriott Resort beyond those fishermen.
And here's my favorite Coronado ferry, Silvergate. It usually departs near the San Diego Convention Center.
And here’s my favorite Coronado ferry, Silvergate. It usually departs near the San Diego Convention Center.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

9/11 Firefighter’s legacy: Two Sons and Stickball.

Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers huddle up during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. Photo by Margie Jones.

An important event in San Diego history took place over the Labor Day weekend. It involved a firefighter hero who saved lives during 9/11, his two sons, and the game of stickball.

The following inspirational article is contributed by Margie Jones of 4 Heroes 4 Life:

The 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy was one of the largest in its 19 year history with a field of 16 teams, four from New York and one from Tampa Bay, Florida. New York transplant Bob Ortiz and a group of players brought the Bronx-style tradition of street baseball to California in the early 1990s, later passing the torch to brothers Louie and Joey Centanni.

This year’s tournament held a special meaning for the San Diego and New York stickball communities, bringing the return of Skylar and Austin Mercado, sons of former Emperor’s Stickball League President Steve Mercado. Mercado and his family brought the team to San Diego from the Bronx in 2001 when the boys were 6 and 2 years old. The Mercado family made a lasting impression on many San Diegans, including SD City Firefighter and Stickball League Commissioner Willie Blas and Fire Marshal Mark George. After saying their goodbyes, Steve returned to NYC and went straight to work on 9/11, courageously saving lives. He was one of 12 of 13 from Engine 40 and Ladder 35 to lose their lives on that day, along with over 400 NYC first responders.

This weekend, Skylar and Austin Mercado brought the legacy of their Dad and Grandfather to Stickball in San Diego. Their team, the Tampa Chargers, was undefeated going into the Championship Game on Monday but could not best the local Sultans of Swat, who took home the trophy this year. We hope the Mercados experienced the outpouring of love and support for these two fine young men, their family, and the entire NYC community of heroes.

So that Steve and all heroes on that day will be NEVER FORGOTTEN, Mark and Willie as sponsored by 4 Heroes 4 Life and Veteran Adventures will be hosting a 9/11 NEVER FORGOTTEN Charity Golf Tournament and Community Extravaganza on September 11. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Steven Mercado Foundation, and funds for Engine 40 and Ladder 35, and the NYC Emergency Fund. This is the first of an annual event on 9/11 as an opportunity to bring community together in support of our fallen heroes and for our nation’s healing. Please join us. Register or donate here.

Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Commemorative bat honoring 9/11 firefighter Steve Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Austin Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers' Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Tampa Chargers’ Skylar Mercado. Photo by Margie Jones.
Power hitting. Photo by Margie Jones.
Swinging with heart on a San Diego street. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
2017 Championship Game final score. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball family. Photo by Margie Jones.
Stickball brings many together. Photo by Margie Jones.

Photos from the Labor Day Stickball Tournament.

Batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.
A batter gets ready to swing during the Labor Day Stickball Tournament in San Diego. Sixteen teams, including five from the East Coast, played over two days.

I watched some of the action today at the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy. This annual San Diego tradition–which has been going on for 19 years now–includes West and East Coast stickball teams competing for glory. Even a slight drizzle couldn’t stop the intense street action!

I took some photos while enjoying a few of the games. A good crowd lined the sidewalks to watch play on three different street blocks in Little Italy. Stickball in San Diego seems to be growing in popularity–at least it appears that way to me!

Every year the event seems to grow. Many were lining the sidewalk watching a very exciting stickball game.
Every year the event seems to grow. Many people were lining the sidewalks watching action-packed stickball games. The dog barked excitedly with every great play.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Banner for the Nineteenth Annual Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy, sponsored by Mission Federal Credit Union.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Cars head down the nearby street as a game is in progress. It rained a little bit today, as you can see.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Running for home in front of the San Diego Firehouse Museum during the 2017 Labor Day Stickball Tournament.
Playing hard, with a smile. Good times, good people.
Playing hard with a smile. Good times, good people.
A big grid of teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A big grid of 16 teams this year for the stickball tournament. Just from personal observation, the event seems to grow every Labor Day weekend.
A player stretches, a team huddles.
A player stretches as a team huddles. The play on hard asphalt is blazing fast and fierce.
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!
Getting ready to be a stickball hero!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

San Diego stickball: Sidewalk Slammers vs. Street Rookies!

Players prepare to go to bat during a stickball tournament in San Diego's Little Italy.
Players prepare to go to bat during a stickball tournament in San Diego’s Little Italy.

A stickball tournament was held today in San Diego’s Little Italy. I watched one game between the Sidewalk Slammers and Street Rookies, and was able to snap a bunch of action photos. Sometimes these tournaments include teams from New York, but I was told that the five teams today were all local. Stickball has become a very cool downtown San Diego tradition!

Young player on the Sidewalk Slammers team takes a swing during the early innings of a fungo-style stickball game.
Young player on the Sidewalk Slammers team takes a swing during the early innings of a fungo-style stickball game.
A teammate is ready to strike the bounced rubber ball with a taped wooden broom handle. Lots of people were watching on either side of Columbia Street.
A teammate is ready to strike the bounced rubber ball with a taped wooden broom handle. Lots of people were watching on either side of Columbia Street.
Stickball fans watch the action while seated or standing. Music, drink and good times on the sidewalk in front of The Firehouse Museum in Little Italy.
Stickball fans watch the action while seated or standing. Music, drink and good times on the sidewalk in front of The Firehouse Museum in Little Italy.
Halfway through the 3rd inning and the Sidewalk Slammers trail the Street Rookies.
Halfway through the 3rd inning and the Sidewalk Slammers trail the Street Rookies.
Members of the Street Rookies, in yellow shirts, watch as their offense tries to score more runs.
Members of the Street Rookies, in yellow shirts, watch as their offense tries to score more runs.
He calls himself a Street Rookie? This guy hits the ball really hard. A line drive far down the city block.
He calls himself a Street Rookie? This guy hits the ball really hard. A line drive far down the long city block.
A runner scores by touching the chalk home plate, and the Street Rookies extend their lead.
A runner scores by touching the chalk home plate, and the Street Rookies extend their lead.
The next batter prepares to bounce the rubber ball before swinging. This type of self-pitched stickball is called fungo.
The next batter prepares to bounce the rubber ball before swinging. I learned that self-pitching the ball is technically called fungo.
Another hit! Fans go wild! A downtown San Diego street makes for a very unusual stadium.
Another hit! Fans go wild! A downtown San Diego street makes for a very unusual stadium.
Time out! A car is pulling out of a parking garage and into the asphalt outfield. During the action, pedestrians and onlookers are sometimes in the field of play.
Time out! A car is pulling out of a parking garage and into the asphalt outfield. During the action, pedestrians, dogs and onlookers are sometimes in the field of play.
Three teammates take the field at the top of a new inning. A great game is underway.
Three teammates take the field at the top of a new inning. A great game is underway.
An athletic move and lightning fast throw. If I recall, the play was very close and the runner was nearly out.
An athletic move and lightning fast throw. If I recall, the play was very close and the runner was nearly tagged out.
Another defensive play. A Sidewalk Slammers runner is safe at second base.
Another defensive play. A Sidewalk Slammers runner has safely made second base.
Another time out! The KUSI television van is leaving the scene. They had several live shots of the local stickball tournament this morning.
Another time out! The KUSI television van is leaving the scene. They had several live shots of the local stickball tournament this morning.
Someone watches the game from high up on their balcony. I believe hitting a fly into a building is considered a foul. Unlike baseball, a foul or a strike is called out. Tough rules.
Someone watches the game from high up on their balcony. I believe hitting a fly into a building is considered a foul. Unlike baseball, a foul or a strike is called out. Tough rules.
Some fielding action on the sidewalk right in front of me! Fortunately, I didn't manage to get in the way.
Some fielding action on the sidewalk right in front of me! Fortunately, I didn’t manage to get in the way.
Chasing the ball! A game played primarily in the Northeastern United States is being enjoyed several thousand miles away!
Chasing the ball! A game played primarily in the Northeastern United States is being enjoyed several thousand miles away!
Encouragement and friendship on the streets of San Diego.
Encouragement and friendship on the not-so-mean streets of San Diego.
This game is over. The members of both teams exchange high fives. Good sportsmanship and fun.
This game is over. The members of both teams exchange high fives. Good sportsmanship and fun. That’s San Diego style!
The Sidewalk Slammers get a team photo. Five local teams are competing in this tournament.
The Sidewalk Slammers get a team photo. Five local teams are competing in this tournament.
And here is the final score. Sidewalk Slammers 5. Street Rookies 12.
And here is the final score. Sidewalk Slammers 5. Street Rookies 12.
Watching a Memorial Day weekend game of stickball in San Diego's Little Italy.
People enjoy watching a Memorial Day weekend game of stickball in Little Italy.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to enjoy!

Stickball tournament players in Little Italy.

stickball player prepares while lineup is written

A stickball tournament was held Sunday in San Diego’s Little Italy, one block from the Festa event! The playing field was a city street in front of the Firehouse Museum. Lots of people watched from the sidewalk, sitting on lawn chairs and the curb.

Here’s a team wearing spiffy uniforms, getting ready to begin a game. A player practices his swing while the lineup is written with chalk on the street.

stickball batter swings away in little italy

Here’s a player from the opposing team swinging. If I recall correctly, he hit the rubber ball into a treetop, and it dropped for a single. Another player hit the ball onto the porch of a condo down the street. That guy was called out.

When I departed, the team in the spiffy uniforms was losing badly.

UPDATE!

Here are a couple more photos from a different Saturday morning in late summer…

A player misses and is called out to the dismay of his team.
A player misses and is called out to the dismay of his team.
Lady swings and crushes the ball a long distance down Columbia Street!
Lady swings and crushes the ball a long distance down Columbia Street!