Our Last few Performances Mon 02/13, Thu 02/16, Sat 02/18, Sun 02/19, Tue 02/21, Thu 02/23.
Next Performance TBA (Usually Tue, Thu, Sat am, Sun).
CT FL RI - 3rd Annual Amateur Court Championship June 2-3, 2017
The third annual CT FL RI Amateur Court Championship will take place the weekend of June 2-3 at Matt’s court in Berlin, Connecticut. The first two years have been such a success that two events may be planned this year, with another one tentative later in the year. The popular event draws the top amateur jai-alai players in the USA and include several former pro stars.
Once again, players will be invited to show up Thursday (June 1) and on Sunday (June 4th) in addition to the regular tournaments held on Friday and Saturdays (June 2-3). A trip to Mohegan Sun is planned for Saturday night, June 3rd. To register, please text Laca. Several of the NJAA’s top players have acknowledged they may play and this includes Scott King, Belota, Ricky, Julio, Anthony and Rocco. Organizers would like to see our “new” players like Daniel, Randy and Brodie make the trip. They would like to also see others like Eric M and Eric L show up. Eric M throws about as hard as anybody and could be a “freak of nature” out there, while the other Eric (the Vanderbilt football star) would put on a catching exhibition out there.
NJAA organizers urge players commit to playing and book their fares before they go up. Rates are very good right now and the weather in Hartford that time of year is perfect. Matt is lining up his top players and this is always a great event to play in or watch. Different tournaments are held various levels of play, so all are welcome. More details to come as they unfold.
Puryear Park Renaissance!
Among those playing Wednesday afternoon included: (Top) Randy, PCast, Chris, Thomas, Rocco, Loren, Belota,
(Bottom) Corky, Daniel, Larry, Rule, Mike, ScottK (Photo by Laca)
Missing from Photo op: Anthny, Ricky, Laca, Kulstr, EricL, EricM, Julio, Brodie, Chip, Javy, Egerbe, PaulH,
Armndo, Gino, Levi, King, EricL, Luis, Crab, George, Matt, John and a few more.
St. Petersburg, FL: What’s going on here? As we are about to enter our 10th season of playing on America’s
first public jai-alai court, the quality and quantity of play is at its all-time peak. On a beautiful sunny
and 72 degree Wednesday afternoon, 14 players were out there playing jai-alai while the rest of the park
was deserted. By the time Chris “The Kid” showed up after 5pm he was shocked to see the size of the crowd.
“Doesn’t anybody work here?!!!” he yelled out to the laugher of the crowd.
For some reason, a record 20-plus players are currently qualified for the NJAA title. In baseball terms,
this is like competing for the batting title where 502 at bats during the season are required. Never in
our 10 year history have we had this many players qualify at this time of year. Yes, it is early in the
season, and we can’t get that “all excited”.
Adding to the buzz of the great action of Puryear Park, this past month is having jai-alai legends Randy
and Daniel have become regulars. Randy played pro over an amazing four decade period that started in 1968.
As one of the great ambassadors of the game, he was the first American jai-alai player. Nobody on the
planet knows the game better than he does. Randy played at Tampa for many years and won the first game
ever played in Connecticut – at Hartford Jai-alai. Triple crown winner Daniel was one of the greatest
backcourt players of all time, playing mainly in Tampa and Miami. Even his own bobble head was made after
him while playing in Miami. Today, they go for about $100 on ebay.
Several other ex-pros have been playing on a regular basis including former star players Scott King and Ricky.
Scott King won the NJAA championship award in 2016 and is one of our top players. He played in Tampa for 13
season during the golden era of jai-alai and against one of the strongest rosters in the world. Ricky is
currently #1 in our NJAA winning percentage right after finishing 3rd last year behind Scott King and Julio.
Home-grown star player Rocco is now back on the roster fulltime after playing in Ft. Pierce this past
spring and having stints while playing at Orlando and Dania jai-alai. Flame throwing Belota, who played
pro one season in Orlando, is also a regular at Puryear Park. Because he throws so hard, he has been
frustrated with the court size and is anxiously awaiting the Laca court to finally gets built.
Former pro players Kent and Loren have made appearances this month and John Silvia has been appearing
on a regular basis and will be on the roster through April. He recently played pro jai-alai in Orlando
and was also a player at Newport, RI jai-alai. Kent was a star player at Miami jai-alai while Loren
has played in several countries and with his vast connections has made him the world’s # 1 “promoter”
of amateur events for jai-alai.
Turning to our local roster, “Mendoza Magic Mike”, the genius statistician for the NJAA, had his average
drop below under .200 (the Mendoza line) last June and was about to be demoted to “C” league action on
the racquetball courts right behind the front wall. But for some reason (was it the basket Chip gave him?),
has turned it all around since then to become a player who can virtually return any throw out there and
now averaging well over .300. Even Daniel nicknamed him “Michelena” one day.
Other players from the Seminole Middle School days of the mid 1980s are showing up frequently. Egerbie,
a legend in his own right, and named by Laca from a favorite Bridgeport Jai-alai player of his back in
the late 70, has been commuting from Georgia to play recently while his buddy Javy has been showing up
and proving that he is not “one and done Javy”.
We can only hope all this continues through the year and long live jai-alai!
Tom Contreras Remembered
Michael Contreras speaking at his father’s “Celebration of Life” in Ocala Friday afternoon
An emotional crowd of nearly 150 attended the Celebration of Life ceremony of Tom Contreras Friday afternoon in Ocala, Florida. Family and friends gathered for the guy we will miss dearly. Dozens of former jai-alai players and management were in attendance. Those speaking included Mark Beiro and Marty Fleishman who told the crowd several amusing stories about Tom from their old jai-alai days. The final speaker was Mike Contreras, the son of Tom. Tom’s three young grandchildren, whom he deeply loved were also in attendance. Several childhood friends of nearly 60 years also spoke of what a great friend Tom was.
The ceremony started with a video of Tom that included about a hundred photos of him over the years. The event was held at the Country Club of Ocala, one of Tom’s favorite golf courses. We will miss you, Tom.
Happy New Year - 2017 Begins
See News/Pelota Press for Archives of Past Activities and Stats
RIP Tom Contreras 12/18/16
Click Here for Video Tribute
TAMPA JAI-ALAI INVADES PURYEAR PARK!
St. Petersburg, FL: Spectators at little old Puryear Park Jai-alai had to take a double-look Saturday morning with a flock of former Tampa jai-alai star players all of the court at once. Regulars Scott King and Ricky Hernandez were out there along with “Four Decade Pro” Randy and Triple Crown winner Daniel Love in some great action along with several amateur jai-alai players. Scott K and Ricky are already two of our top players on America’s first public court, but now will have a little competition from a couple of jai-alai’s greatest ambassadors – Randy and Daniel.
Randy, the first American player, began his pro career in 1968 and played an amazing 26 seasons. Daniel was one of the greatest backcourters in Tampa Jai-alai history before moving to Miami to play down there after the Tampa cancha sadly closed in 1998. Daniel, who graduated from Largo High School was able to return to Pinellas county 3 years ago and has played a couple times at Puryear Park. Daniel and his wife then celebrated the first anniversary of their marriage that evening at Bern’s Steak House with the great Devore (longtime Tampa Jai-alai bartender) as his server!
When the St. Pete courts announcement was made 9 years ago about the construction of the first public court to be built in the USA, Randy and Daniel were among the first to congratulate the NJAA along with Benny and Jai-a-Lou with the news. Randy intends to play on a regular basis and after a couple throws on the court, Daniel remarked that he hadn’t changed in over 20 years and was still a great thrower! Daniel intends on playing Saturday mornings on a regular basis from now on which is great news for jai-alai fans.
Main court light replaced and readjusted
St. Petersburg, FL: One of the main jai-alai court lights – the one nearest the front wall – has been replaced and reangled to provide better lighting on the court. During yesterday’s rare Tuesday afternoon performance, players were able to talk to the maintenance crew to have them adjust the light to it covered more of the main court. After considerable work done on the light fixture, it was adjusted more away from the 3 small handball/jai-alai courts and tiled more toward the main jai-alai court. Now, more lighting is clearly visible in the front of the court – without causing any glare to the players. A special thanks to the City of St. Petersburg for the support of America’s first public jai-alai court!
Florida/Connecticut/Rhode Island Tournament Results:
Berlin, CT: The second annual National Amateur Court Jai-alai championship was completed week ending Oct 22nd, with Team Connecticut beating Team Florida and Team Rhode Island. A surprise visit Saturday from Derek Smith, the first Puryear Park player to turn pro. Here are the scores: