Exploring San Diego


Stickball tournament celebrates Little Italy, East Coast heritage this Labor Day

generic little italy sign
Posted at 4:08 PM, Aug 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 17:33:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — This Labor Day, the Little Italy community will celebrate their annual Stickball Tournament, honoring the East Coast past time made popular in several neighborhoods.

The sport draws on the area's heritage that began decades ago.

Since the 1920s, Little Italy has served as a ethnic business and residential hub. At one point, more than 6,000 Italian families lived in the area.

RELATED: Little Italy spots that'll leave you feeling like you're in Italy

The community was once the center of the world's tuna industry, according to the district. But as the tuna industry declined, about 35% of Little Italy disappeared with it and because of the construction of Interstate 5.

But today, locals are working to restore the area to its business and cultural roots. Part of that, is stickball.

Little Italy's tournament comes around every Labor Day weekend, giving spectators and players the chance to relive some childhood memories. Players from New York and Puerto Rico come to San Diego to challenge local teams for the right to call themselves king of the block.

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The rules are essentially like baseball, except players use a broom stick, table leg, or any kind of bat, a rubber ball, and bases are typically manhole covers or cars in the street. Those barriers also help keep the ball in play.

Spectators can head down to Little Italy Saturday, Aug. 31, or Monday, Sept. 2, to check out all the fun.

This year, street closures in place for fields will be located at:

  • India Street between W. A and W. Ash Streets;
  • Columbia Street between W. Beech and W. Date Streets; and
  • State Street between W. Ash and W. Beech Streets

For more information, click here.