Who needs Facebook when you’ve got stickball?
Coyle Street celebrated its sixth-annual stickball game on Saturday, which draws old neighbors and friends from across the nation for a heartfelt reunion, a little sport, and one heck of a block party.
“Practically everyone who lived on the block comes out,” said Nikki Russo, whose mother Diane Cirrincione hosts the event. “People come out from Las Vegas, California, Florida; it’s like social networking without Facebook.”
More than 50 old friends either flew or drove to reunite with the companions of their youth and hit some balls on the block between between Avenues U and T, reliving their days of glory.
“It was like this,” said 67-year-old Michael DeMeno, who drove in from Long Island for the game. “We’d meet in the morning and everybody started their day playing stickball, punchball, stoopball, football. If it ended in a ball, we played it.”
The event, which has matured to attract sponsors such as Thrifty Beverages to donate beer, food, and other accoutrements to augment the game, seems to be growing year after year, as the hostess and her guests skim through phonebooks and track down wayward friends.
“Every few years, one of the guys will track down somebody who we’ve lost touch with,” said DeMeno. “It’s unbelievable seeing everybody.”
DeMeno doesn’t just bring a stick to the game either, and he’s introduced his little slice of Coyle Street to a whole new generation of stickball hitters and pitchers.
“I bring my family, my two sons, and my daughter, and to see them play on the same street I played on many moons ago, I can’t even tell you how it makes me feel,” he said.
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