HOMENAJE: A Tribute to Carlos “Charlie” Díaz

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“I’m just a simple community activist,” says Carlos “Charlie” Díaz.  “I just want to show that we, as Puerto Ricans, contributed in a great way to life here.”

Charlie may not give himself enough credit. He has decades of service in community development, public affairs, and hospital administration with work he has done with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Metropolitan Hospital, the East Harlem Planning Board, Hope Community, the George Convoy Softball League, and in his current position at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Senior Health Care Center.

Now that he has semi-retired, Charlie has more time to devote to his passion—stickball.  He is the president of the Stickball Hall of Fame, the Commissioner of the East Harlem Baseball Federation and a founding member of the East 111th Street Old-Timers stickball team.  He is also the president of the Taíno Towers Community Gallery and Stickball Gallery at 230 East 123rd Street, where anyone can go and view the permanent collection of photos and memorabilia celebrating the history of the game in New York City.

Charlie has devoted decades of his life to honoring the struggles of those original neighborhood stickball players. 

“You can’t wait for someone else to do it.  You got to do things for yourself,” he states.

You know, Charlie’s life and the lives of many Puerto Ricans are like a game of stickball. You take the wooden broom handle or mop handle; you buy the cheap rubber ball from the corner bodega; and you carve yourself some space on the street.

You do the best with what you got.

© Ricardo Muñiz. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 29 January 2016.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.