Nick Alvarez | For The Jersey Journal Steve Viola’s pregame routine consisted of the customary three warmup pitches and more trash-talking than usual. He gloated about the three shutouts he had compiled in the young season. After a leadoff single, his first pitch to Ike Alonso produced a pitiful hack. Viola smiled and nodded his head. “You like that?”…

Nick Alvarez | For The Jersey Journal

Steve Viola’s pregame routine consisted of the customary three warmup pitches and more trash-talking than usual. He gloated about the three shutouts he had compiled in the young season. After a leadoff single, his first pitch to Ike Alonso produced a pitiful hack. Viola smiled and nodded his head.

“You like that?” he jeered.

The next pitch, though, took Viola’s grin away as Alonso belted a two-run homer to give the Dreaded Browns an early lead. Two more blasts doubled the margin. Someone off to the side compared Viola to the New York Yankees’ Sonny Gray, who had just given up six runs in his own abysmal outing the night before.

In the bottom half of the frame, Celentano pitcher Dennis Murphy served up back-to-back jacks. As the celebration went on, Murphy rhetorically asked for the whole team to be tested for performance-enhancing drugs.

The eventful first inning chock full of bombs and vocal barbs didn’t take place on a baseball diamond or any other type of field. It occurred somewhere on West Side Avenue in Secaucus. In front of the loading dock of PNPLINE’s Order Fulfillment Center, or, as the players call it, Gooses**t Stadium.

“It’s more about the gathering than the game,” Patrick “Paddy” Murphy, 69, said. “Every Sunday morning this is what we do.”

For the last 26 years, four lifelong friends — Paddy and Dennis Murphy with Jerry and Kenny Brown — have organized a stickball game in Hudson County. They call themselves the Core Four. They’ve brought along kin and childhood friends to partake in their version of an American pastime. Players range from 21 to 77 years old and include a U.S. Army Vet, a former-Little League World Series finalist, and a Hall of Fame boxer. What started as a way to keep in touch has transformed into a competitive family tradition.

“These are different generations coming together,” Paddy, who often brings six nephews and four brothers to the dock, said. “People don’t get around like this anymore. That’s what makes this special.”

Natives of West New York, …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real-Time News

      

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26-year-old Stickball tradition connects past and present

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