Stickball Fans Honor Hero
Fallen firefighter loved street game

By GREG WILSON
Daily News Staff Writer

Steve Mercado lived to save stickball on the streets of the Bronx, but the firefighter died saving fellow New Yorkers at the World Trade Center.

Now his friends and family want to see him honored for his devotion to the street game played with broomsticks and Spaldeens. They are pushing for a street to be renamed for Mercado, and maybe even stickball's most prestigious tournament.

"He was Mr. Stickball," said radio personality and head Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa. "He was a great player, but he was also an ambassador of the game."

A firefighter who grew up on Bronx streets swinging broomsticks at Spaldeens, Mercado led a resurgence of the legendary New York game. He always believed it could save kids from trouble, said Jennifer Lippold, a board member of the New York Emperor's Stickball League, which Mercado helped establish.

Mercado, a firefighter with Engine Co. 40 on Manhattan's West Side, died along with 342 other FDNY members when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

He was 38, and left behind his wife, Jovianna, and two sons, Skylar, 6, and Austin, 2.

Those who knew him say he had three loves: his family, his job and stickball.

"Stickball was his passion, and we want to commemorate him however we can," said Lippold. "Renaming Stickball Boulevard seems appropriate, even though it still doesn't seem like enough.

"The league is trying to continue with his passion, to take stickball where he wanted to take it