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Score one for nostalgia: Stickballers relive their youth in Coney Island

Batter up!: A stickball player steps up to the plate during a game on Aug. 13 in Coney Island.
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They had a ball by the Boardwalk!

Stickballers played three games of the past-time pastime during the second-annual Stickball Challenge in Coney Island on Aug. 13, and running the bases with the People’s Playground as a backdrop brought the players right back to their childhood days, said an organizer.

“The main thing about the day is promoting the game of stickball, the nostalgia, and keeping the game fresh in everyone’s head,” said Jay Cusato. “It’s a really important sport to New Yorkers.”

Three teams — hailing from Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Harlem — plus a handful of Hall of Famers went broomstick-to-brookstick for three games at the event, which was sponsored by Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Brooklyn lost two out of the three, but it wasn’t about the score, Cusato said.

“We’re upset we lost, but we’re really happy about the success of the day,” he said. “It played such an important role, we don’t want the game to die.”

But unfortunately, because it was a prime summer day in Coney Island, the streets next to the Boardwalk soon became too crowded for the teams to finish the matches, so they will reconvene on the distant isle of Manhattan in a few weeks, said Cusato.

Spectators included former players who were hit by a wave of nostalgia as they watched the sport and those who just learned about it for the first time, he said.

“Everybody had a really fun time, a lot of passersby just stopped and talked with us,” Cusato said. “And a lot either asked what this is, or told us how much they miss stickball.”

If you’re interested in playing, reach out to Jay Cusato at jaycusato@gmail.com.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 2:09 pm, August 23, 2017
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