Founder, Community Stickball Gallery
230 East 123rd Street
ABOUT: "I used to be the young guy playing with the old-timers," says Carlos Diaz. "Now I'm the old-timer playing with the young guys." Owner of the small butL densely-packed Community Stickball Gallery, Diaz intends his space to be a homage to the humble street sport that is now an icon of East Harlem's past. The visitors who drop by the free gallery are a mix of old-timers, come to reminisce about the old days, and curious youth eager to learn about this integral piece of El Barrio's culture. The gallery has two exhibitions at any given time-- Diaz decided early on that half of it would dedicated to "strictly stickball", and the other half would be a "community gallery", with a rotating subject matter that can range from Tito Puente to Roberto Clemente. Seeing one visitor reminisce enthusiastically over the pictures on the walls, Diaz smiles and nods warmly: "This is my--" he starts, and then corrects himself. "This is our gallery."
COMMUNITY VISIONS: Lest anyone think that stickball is dead, Carlos Diaz is here to remind them that it is still "alive and thriving." Unfortunately, kids today have little knowledge of street games. Diaz would like to see the "old games being played with the young kids", noting that it's not just about getting exercise, but about building community. "Kids today talk about basketball and computers, but that's not what New York City is about. New York City is about camaraderie, people together, all ethnic groups." He wants to encourage more girls to join stickball leagues. And, continuing his call for actions that help youth, Diaz would like to see more programs that educate youth effectively about crime, substance abuse, and jail.