THE BRONX - The New York Emperors Stickball League (NYESL) kicked off its memorial stickball classic tournament in the Bronx Saturday.

Teams hailing from California, Puerto Rico, Florida, Manhattan and the Bronx compete. Players say this year?s tournament is their largest ever, with 17 teams and more than 200 people.

Players also say the game has become a Bronx tradition. Residents say the event reflects the true nature of the community.

All the teams play three games on the first two days of the tournament. In the first round teams are eliminated after one game. The best eight teams compete for the championship on the final day. The final four round and Championship game is a best of three competition.

Officials say the NYESL has been hosting tournaments in the Bronx since the mid-1980s. The sport dates back to the 1920s.

Players expect hundreds of spectators for the championship game on Memorial Day.