INWOOD SOFTBALL HISTORY – est 1999, written by Ricardo Ronda

  1. Questions I get often asked are :
  2. How did it all begin?
  3. Why do you only run a fall League?
  4. Why did you guys start the league?
  5. How did you guys get the permits in Inwood?
  6. How did you get teams to join?
  7. Who really runs the league you or Juan?
  8. Where does all the money go?
  9. Is Chelo in a union and what the hell is he saying?
In discussing the origin of Citysoftball I would be remiss if I didn’t begin with how I met its commissioner Juan Moreiras. Back in 1995 an old school softball legend named Pito Lopez introduced me to Juan in all places the softball wasteland called Van Courtland Park. If you think I’m horrible now you had to see me back then, but Juan didn’t seem to care, he only cared that I wanted to play and get better. Back then the only softball we knew was Lob ball (slow pitch) and we played primarily on Saturdays in Pelham Bay Park. Over the years, we had our share of success and failures and evolved into hard core softball junkies. One big gripe we had was that the season ended way too early either in late August or early September. On a few occasions we had played fall softball up in Westchester County at the Hutch and really enjoyed playing ball late into the year. We loved the fields, but hated the commute, game times, goon crowd, and politics associated with that league, but the love of fall softball clearly was discovered there.
As junkies not only did we play softball games, but we also practiced after work or sometimes on weekends. A favorite workout location for us was Inwood Hill Park because it was close to both our apartments, the fields were nice, the primarily Dominican neighborhood enthusiasm for baseball/softball was robust, and more importantly being that it was above 96th street anything went and we could always find a spot to get our softball swerve on without having to worry about a permit. Being from the neighborhood we knew that the Dominican leagues that played at this park ended their season in late August and that they despised playing in the 50-60 degree cold of October and November. In other words, we knew the fields were empty and no one had the permits. In forming a league, one of the biggest obstacles people face is obtaining the permits. Luckily this one time living above 96th street was to our advantage and the Park’s granted us our permits.
They say in life if you wan to get something right you have to do it yourself, well this was our opportunity to create a fall softball league niche in NYC. Hence, The J& R Softball League was formed (Thank god we changed that corny name in 01′). Now the only problem was getting teams to buy in and join.
Back in 99′ the Internet and email was popular, but nothing like today. We had to sell/promote the league old school style to people through flyers and referrals. Juan and I went to every softball field/yard in the Bronx and above 96th street, trying to market to our target market. Through hustle and determination it somehow worked as in year one we had 10 teams (As a side note, Juan and I each brought our own separate team in year 1 to the league for fear of not having enough teams). The lob ball league in 99′ was a surprising success and many of the teams returned the following year and league grew throughout the years.
Throughout the last ten years, our partnership has worked because of good communication, matching our specific skills up with what needed to be done, a desire to run a fair competitive league, and luck of course.
Juan is a natural commissioner – fair, honest, politically correct, open minded but firm. I am a numbers guy so collecting money and handling the financial part of the league was natural to me. As the league evolved from a lob ball league to a modified league we have made a conscious effort to not allow open/sling pitch to maintain competitive balance. We haven’t always been perfect, but we have been fair and consistent in all our decisions.
Unfortunately, the one thing we haven’t been able to do is get rich off of the league. Between permits, prizes, sponsoring a team, and hiring help, our profit margin has been nil. Honestly , we didn’t create the league to make money. Unless you don’t sponsor a team, don’t pay permits, umpire in your own league you don’t really make any real cash. In a sense we are softball Philanthropist.
We put our money back in the league via websites, payouts, and ground keeping. Speaking of grounds keeping, out longest running employee Chelo or as he calls himself “El manager of El Terreno” is mafia, but truth be told without him maintaining the fields our league wouldn’t be the same. Too bad I don’t understand 99% of what he says.
To give you an idea of the progress of the legaue here is a year by year re-cap of the History associated with CitySoftball:
J& R Softball League Formed
Ten Founding Teams were
  1. Bruckner Bulldogs – Lost Chip
  2. Spinals Tap – Champs
  3. Papanuba – One and done never came back
  4. Hit-Em-Up – Rick liked Tupac Too much in those days
  5. A&J Video Porn Stars – Blondie’s team. They drove him nuts and quit after year 1.
  6. Riverdale Tavern – good team. Played in the league for 4 seasons.
  7. Canons – Inwood legend Choco team
  8. Angels – Bronx stud team
  9. Yankees – Lob Ball team form 100th street
  10. Bandits – went 0-14 a record that can only be tied
Playoffs and Championship played in Van Courtland b/c Park’s Department ended our Inwood Permits early.  Spinal Tap with Freddy Suarez on the mound wins the Championship against the Bruckner Bulldog. Years later Freddy Suarez has no recollection of this game
(1) Citysoftball.com Website added to the league
(2) Rick ejected from playoff game by umpire Fat Freddy after the infamous “2 outs” controversy. Ironically Fat Freddy would form his own fall league league to compete against us. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
(3) Defending champ Spinal Tap changes name to “The Angels”. All of the Angels go to Puerto Rico and miss the Championship as Riverdale Tavern embarrass their remaining players, specifically Pito Lopez, and wins the title
West 2001
(1) I received a phone call from a raspy voiced man called John Sheppard.
He said he had a team called west that wanted to join the league.
4 Championships later the rest is History.
As aside note, John drove us crazy in the beginning, but throughout the years has become a great friend to both of us. I guess softball is more than just a game.
(2) Citysoftball becomes the official new name of the league
(3) The 1st and only Inwood One Day Lob Ball Softball Tournament takes place.
(4) Juan calls the team Knockout. Bad Rick names are stopped until 2002
(5) Knockout signs its captain Johnny Castillo. The good years begin as Castillo lives in Inwood and carries KO for years.
Ric's Revolution Team

(1) League Expansion goes through the roof !! Over 20 teams!!!!!!!!
Two leagues – Lob Ball and Modified are formed.
West wins Modified and Revolution (one more bad Rick name), wins the Lob Ball
(2) An obscure team called Tribe managed by Dio Jackson joins the league and finishes dead last.
(3) The league plays its last games in Van Courtland and Dyckman Street.
It’s only Inwood from now on.
(1) West defeats “La Familia” and wins the league again, but is tested throughout the playoffs by Tribe and the Hustlers. Who can ever forget the game the George Colon fell in a puddle in deep LCF and the Hustlers won in walk off fashion.
(2 )Dio’s improving Tribe squad makes the playoffs and beats West 1 game.
It’s enough to get Dio Noticed.
(3) Knockout is a horrible, constantly in fights/turmoil, almost folds.
Original Highlanders 2004
(1) Dio’s changes his teams name to The Highlanders – an Inwood legend is born,
(2) Knockout left for dead by many is reborn and led to the finals by Johnny Castillo and his cast of below 96th street players
(3) West defeats Knockout in a 14 inning marathon classic to win their 4th straight championship.
(1) Long time 2nd division team Chaos has a great season and advances to the Final Four
(2) Knockout folds. Remaining players merge with the Highlanders.
(3) Highlanders outlast West and win the Championship ending West’s run
(1) New Dominican teams Bizcocheros and Dominican Power join league.
Show that Dominicans/Hispanics love to play year round.
(2) Bronx Powerhouse “The Phillies” join Inwood and can’t field a team and fold.
In the managerial low point of Dio’s Inwood career he tries to switch Philly players to his roster. Very shiesty
(3) Dio donates Championship Belt to Inwood.
The Belt will be passed on from Champion to Champion going forward.
(4) Knockout Returns and Finally Wins the Big One!!!!!!!!!!
(1) In routine fashion the Phillies win the Championship then announce they quit in 08′ b/c they didn’t win enough money.
(2) Long Time Team “The Criminals” have an amazing season and fall 1 win short of the Title
(3) The modified league grows to its largest number 17.
(4) Due to injuries, player defections, and Castillo moving to Brooklyn defending champ Knockout’s folds.
(5) SoftballInsider.net is formed