Archives For Bronx

It was quite appropriate that before I made my third trip back to Niagara Falls, New York in six weeks (yes that’s every-other-weekend for those keeping score at home), I ran a 5K.

Of course, the reason I returned home is for my Mother’s church’s picnic, which I attend annually. The 5K, held inside Yankee Stadium, benefitted Damon Runyon for cancer research. For those unaware, my Mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

So after a late night at work and only about an hour or so of sleep, I woke up and chugged a coffee before wrapping myself in Yankees Dri-Fit paraphernalia and hopping in an Uber. I made it up to the Bronx in near-record time thanks to the lack-of-traffic on the Westside Highway. The heat I signed up for was 9:50 am.

Overall, the event was fantastic. This was my second Runyon 5K but the feeling of stepping on to the hallowed field of Yankee Stadium was just as exciting as the first time. What made this year’s installment even cooler was that the route brought you around the warning track twice; in 2014 you only were able to run one lap on the field.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Not as cool: the two trips you make up the steps at Yankee Stadium, from the Great Hall to the 300 level, but we don’t need to dwell on that.

As I ran through the opening in center field and on to the dirt, I began to feel like a little kid agian. I wasn’t trying to hit a certain finish time (although I still finished sub-30 minutes) so I took it all in: the grass, the dugouts, the view from the infield. I stopped to take selfies, posed behind home plate and even “robbed a home-run” out in right field.


Some participate as a part of a team while others raise money individually. I decided not to tell anyone about my decision to run or solicit donations ahead of time for a couple of reasons. First, with the quick turnaround time, I wanted to make sure that I made the race! Second, there are a lot of people and organizations that are constantly trying to raise funds, and I just didn’t feel comfortable asking for any money.

With that said, I still felt that it was important to participate and share my experience. Events like these are critical to nonprofit organizations, and hopefully this can serve as an example that not donating or raising money isn’t an excuse to sit on the sidelines.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Or perhaps better stated for this story, in the dugout.

I just realized that this post isn’t as super-belated as I initially though; I ate birthday cake about a week ago.

My actual birthday was on June 6 and regardless of my Mom celebrating in late fashion with both my sister (June 14) and Uncle Dave (this past Wednesday), I still felt compelled to at some point write a “thank you” for everyone who both sent their well-wishes and/or joined in on the fun in person.

So I turned 21… on June 6, 2006. I was still attending Syracuse University that summer and working in the city. My cousin and best friend Anthony (who ties the knot next weekend) was in law school at St. John’s. My Dad and my buddy Vinnie drove from Niagara Falls to Syracuse, where on midnight we threw back a few celebratory shots at Chuck’s (hashtag never forget). You should’ve seen the bartender’s face when she realized that for the past year that she had served me, I wasn’t of age. Whoops!

The next day we drove to Bayside, met up with Anthony and headed over to the Bronx. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 2-1 thanks in part to Melky Cabrera robbing Manny Ramirez of a home-run.


Now 11 years later, the Yankees were in the Bronx, playing the Red Sox. A friend-of-the-show, Eric, has season tickets and invited me to go to the game with him. Of course I obliged, and despite a much different outcome, was happy that I spent at least part of my birthday at the Stadium.


The celebrations continued Saturday, where I headed back to the Stadium with my friend Riana, John Foxx and his better half. The outcome was much more favorable as the Yankees went home-run derby on the Orioles. I watched the last few innings back in my neighborhood, chowing down on hibachi with my friends Ryan and Gina.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


With me in town the weekend after my sister’s birthday for my cousin Anthony’s stag, my Mom thought it would be a nice idea to have a little cake that celebrated quite a bit, none-the-more-evident than by simply looking at it.

I love tradition and routine but it was time for a break from both this past weekend: for the first time in recent memory, I took Memorial Day weekend off.

I remember spending Memorial Day weekend in 2010 at a Yankees game and I can’t recall how I spent the holiday in 2011. But I do remember 2012 because Syracuse was in the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four and I drove to Camden, New Jersey where I interviewed Niall Horan of then a burgeoning pop outfit called One Direction.

In 2013 I attended a wedding but on Memorial Day Monday and every subsequent one until this year, I would host my show in New York at its normal time.

And this year wasn’t a complete departure from work: I woke up early Friday morning and drove down the Shore for 95.5’s Pepsi Summer Kick-Off, chatting with Andy Grammer before driving back and doing my show Friday night.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


On Saturday I slept in, grabbed the new Jordan 11’s and met a friend for a drink in midtown. Then my buddy Danny visited for the weekend – we bar-hopped in the hood before hitting the East Village and calling it a late night/early morning.

Then Sunday it was up to the Bronx to watch the Yankees beat the A’s and witness Aaron Judge’s first career grand slam. We followed that up with a celebratory drink at Stan’s and then a trip to hang in Yonkers with John Foxx for dinner and drinks.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The bad news for Monday is that I had to set an alarm for 8 am. The good news was that Danny and I were up early because we were driving to Baltimore to see the Yankees and Orioles face off at Camden Yards. The weather was dreary until we reached the DMV area. First pitch was 75 and sunny. The Yanks lost (although Judge hit another homer; he leads the league) but we linked up with friends old and new in the stadium, across the street at Pickles and across town around the Inner Harbor.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


By the way – the people of Baltimore are fantastic. We ate dinner with our buddy Rob at the Oyster House Sunday night. The lobster gnocchi and lobster mac and cheese were out of this world. Everything was super-fresh.

We wrapped up the night with a trip to Horseshoe Casino where I left with a few extra dollars in my pocket and retired to the Hilton by Camden. It was an early-ish night because I had a 10 am train back to New York on Tuesday morning.

And of course, it should come as little surprise that I missed it by about 10 minutes because I accidentally typed in “Penn Street” in to Google Maps as opposed to “Baltimore Penn Station.” But the good news was that 20 minutes later, an Acela departed and dropped me off at New York Penn just before 1.

The timing was perfect: I arrived at the studio with just enough time to interview an old friend… Niall Horan.

Since leaving Niagara Falls, New York for Syracuse University in 2003, I haven’t spent Mother’s Day with my Mom often. The 2007 SU commencement was on that Sunday in May and I can remember at least one other time when my Mom visited me but otherwise, I’ve been away from the family. It was mostly a byproduct of the job; the only holiday you’re really guaranteed to have off in radio is Christmas. The fact that pretty much my entire family, sister included, are still back in Niagara Falls also factors in to it.

But on the flip side, it makes a Mother’s Day spent with Rachele that much more special because I certainly don’t take it for granted. And so you can imagine my joy that this year, as the Yankees readied to retire Derek Jeter’s number on May 14, my Mom floated the idea of coming to the city for it. While my Mom isn’t a huge baseball fan, she does root for the Yankees and likes getting to at least a game a year in the Bronx.

She, like many of us, also loves Derek. When we visited New York for my first time in 1998, my Mom was the one who overheard a worker at Niketown talking about Jeter. Minutes later I was standing in front of the shortstop and shortly thereafter, thanks to my Mom, this photo was taken.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And so my Mom and sister Raquela flew down Saturday morning in to a rainy Manhattan where they shopped, napped and then met me for dinner at Dafni’s on 42nd. They love staying in Times Square (I’ve stopped fighting it) and have eaten at this Greek restaurant before; after our meal, I would sign up for a return visit.

That night, the two of them walked up a few blocks to see Josh Groban in “The Great Comet” (Rachele gave it high marks). The next day, we grabbed a nice early Italian dinner at Pomodoro Rosso on the Upper West Side. This quaint red-and-white tablecloth restaurant served generous portions for a moderate price. We left with full stomachs and walked to the C train so we could transfer to the D at 125 and end up at 161st and River.

Once we got inside the ballpark and made it to our seats, I ran back downstairs to spend too much money on hats, shirts, pins and programs marking Jeter’s (second) Day at Yankee Stadium. I made it back to our Jim Beam Suite seats in time for the start of the ceremony, which in typical Yankee fashion was a fantastic stroll down memory lane.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Ironically the most forgettable part of the trip was the game itself; the Astros jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after the first few innings. But the score didn’t matter; my Mom enjoyed herself so to me, it was a winning weekend.

So how great is this Yankees’ season going so far?

Ok, let’s hope I didn’t jinx it.

I had the pleasure of attending the home opener up in the Bronx last month with one of my best friends along with my sister and some of her co-workers. Then I returned to the Bronx for the first Saturday and Sunday games at the Stadium this season. Chances are by now you know that any weekend me and the Yankees are both in the city, I’ll be heading north to the BX.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


For the home opener and the Saturday game I bought the newly-installed Pinstripe Pass. This ticket is really a response to my generation’s desire to share unique experiences with friends both in-person and online.

What I’ve always loved about the new Stadium since it opened in 2009 is the open corridors and standing room only areas, including the Batter’s Eye Café, which offers an awesome view of the ballpark from center field. The Yankees expanded that café platform for the new season. Also changed are the obstructed view bleacher seats, which were the sections on each side of the 1893 Club (formerly Mohegan Sun Sports Bar). Those benches were demolished and tiered terraces were installed in their place. Each terrace features a full-bar, TVs and drink rails with power and USB outlets.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


But wait… there’s more! The Pinstripe Pass also comes with a free 12 oz beer or non-alcoholic beverage.

And if you get there early enough, you may even see Aaron Judge crush a batting practice home run in to a one of the HD TVs.


The Yankees won all three games I’ve been to this year; the team has a great home record. Heck, it’s a good record period – the Bronx Bombers are first in the division. Judge is leading the league in home runs and was the American League Rookie Of The Month for April.

Something tells me the Yankees will be selling plenty of Pinstripe Passes this year… should help pay for some of those new TVs they might need in center field.

For Norman Reedus, one of the stars of “The Walking Dead,” his run on the hit AMC show has been rather unexpected.

“I didn’t know I was going to be on the second episode of the first season,” Reedus revealed to me on the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs charity event inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden last week. “I’m excited just to be here, you know what I mean?”

Now seven seasons later, the actor who plays Daryl Dixon has grown accustomed to walking around New York City and hearing adoring fans shout, “Don’t die!”

“I get a lot of police love and firemen love here,” he responded when I asked what fan interactions are like in the city. “(They talk) mostly about the show.”

And while Reedus talks about it comfortably, he admitted that there are some scenarios that he is not fully accustomed to.

“I just came back from Madrid and there were 10,000 screaming people in the streets and sometimes that’s overwhelming,” he admitted. “But it always feels good. I mean we work really hard on that show and we shoot it out in a bubble in the woods of Georgia so, when we come out of that and we get a lot of love it feels good.”

Sometimes he doesn’t even have to leave Georgia to feel the love. When I asked Reedus who the most surprising public figure was to tell him that they enjoyed “The Walking Dead,” he responded with Jada Pinkett Smith.

“I saw her in Savannah; she was there for a ‘Magic Mike’ after-party… I think they wrapped there,” he recalled. “She came up to me at a restaurant and said she really loved the show and I geeked out on her.”

Of course after Reedus’ story on “Fallon” about talk show host Sean Hannity sending endless shots of tequila to him and Dave Chappelle once, the Jada Smith run-in will only rank as the second most-random tale he’s told the media this year. Reedus probably encountered a few more TWD fans at The Garden Of Laughs stand-up comedy show. The event featured performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan and Sebastian Maniscalco. “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones and Bob Saget also performed at the benefit, which raised $2 million for The Garden Of Dreams Foundation to help kids through the tri-state area overcome obstacles.

Reedus has called New York home for almost 20 years; his son attends school in the city and his mother taught class in the Bronx and Harlem.

I was joking on the radio Monday that the telltale sign you know I’m without much responsibility is the fact that I attended two different pro sporting events on two different days this weekend.

As I’ve told colleagues and friends before: I’m single with no kids. I don’t anticipate that status sticking around my entire life, so I’m going to work and play hard while I can.

This weekend ended up being a prime example of that; at least from the play hard aspect.

Saturday I went with a few friends to the Yankees game in the Bronx. The Orioles were in town and at the start of the month, I suspected the game would have postseason implications. It did – but not for my Yanks – as the Orioles had yet to clinch a birth. The Bombers were eliminated Thursday night.

We bought $20 seats that included access to some of the clubs in the Stadium and spent the entire game bouncing around from vantage point-to-point – splitting time between the Tommy Bahamas bar, the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, the Batter’s Eye Café and the standing-room section in left field.


It was great to spend one final evening this season in the Bronx, and the Yankees even took home a win; it would end up being their final one of the year.

I did hit up a few local watering holes Saturday evening before retiring to the apartment and grabbing some shuteye. We had an early Sunday morning ahead. After waking up and buying tickets, it was off to East Rutherford to see the Jets host the Seahawks. This was my first Jets home game, third NFL game at MetLife Stadium and fourth football game period at the venue.

My squad and I hopped aboard NJ Transit, got off in Secaucus and Uber-ed to Donald’s tailgate spot. For those who missed it on my Facebook Live, I lost a bet earlier in the season to Donald when his Jets beat my Bills. Despite this, Donald was kind enough to invite me to the tailgate he attends every week with his fellow season ticket holders.

We hung out with his crew until right before kickoff and then made our way inside. Fun fact (and I wish I grabbed a photo): MetLife has an Original Pizza Logs stand. OPLs are made in Niagara Falls, NY!


The Jets lost, which I wasn’t too concerned with as my Bills had shut-out the Patriots in New England, and we made it back to the city very quickly thanks again to NJ Transit.

The timing on our return was great, because I wanted to go out and catch some of the 4 o’clock games. It’s not like I had anything else to do!

On Friday night I was in the middle of my nightly Facebook Live broadcast when my buddy Nick from back home commented – Nick wanted to let me know that he was going to Saturday’s Yankees game.

Nick and I both grew up in Western New York and then in a strange twist, both ended up in Northeastern Pennsylvania around the same time for a few years. In yet another crazy turn, we both moved to the tri-state area too; he’s up in Connecticut with his wife and I’m of course in Manhattan.

We’re also both diehard Yankees fans. Yet despite this, I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw Nick, and neither of us had attended a game in the Bronx together this year.

That was until last weekend of course.

I met Nick at a place we’re both fans of by the ballpark, Stadium Pizza. Why are we fans? Well I enjoy it because it’s a bit out of the way at 157th and River. But what keeps me coming back to the place is their drink special: three domestic bottles for $10. A bucket of 6 for $20. It’s a deal you can’t beat anywhere near the Stadium.


I joined the group mid-buckets. We had a few rounds then made our way in to the game. A great feature of Yankee Stadium is the open concourse and wide array of standing room areas. I think the original plan was to make our way out to center field and the Batter’s Eye Café but we settled on the area behind one of the Main Infield sections.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The Yankees won, the celebration commenced across the street at Stan’s and then I headed home. The 4 p.m. first pitch worked perfectly because I was home in bed by 11.

The reason I retired so early on a Saturday night is because my Sunday was jam-packed. I ran, showered, changed, went to the radio station to grab an audio recorder and then cabbed it to Port Authority where I hopped on a bus to Atlantic City. I arrived in AC around 5:30, grabbed a quick sushi dinner and then walked to Boardwalk Hall.


For my second straight year, I attended Miss America. This year, I was covering the red carpet for my radio station.

Some of the highlights: interviewing gold medalist Gabby Douglas and Laura Marano at the same time, Mark Cuban telling me after this election season he’ll never talk politics again and ESPN’s Sage Steele revealing that she didn’t check football scores so she could focus on rehearsing her lines for the show. Ciara didn’t stop and talk with any media outlets but did say hello to me, which was very kind of her.


Miss Arkansas, Savvy Shields, won the crown and after her press conference I headed to the after-party. And then to a blackjack table or three. And then, $75 lighter, back to New York City.

After all, I had my radio show Monday night, and another Facebook Live broadcast to host.

Day drinking, an extra-innings Yankees game and Guns N’ Roses at MetLife Stadium were just a few of the highlights from an action-packed weekend in which I commiserated with friends new and old.

My buddy Danny was in town visiting; he didn’t arrive until almost 2 in the morning. Thankfully it didn’t really matter that much because I work nights anyways and I happen to live in… the city that doesn’t sleep. There are bars and even kitchens open until 4 a.m. (or later in the case of the latter) throughout my neighborhood, so we settled in to one for some late-night grub and libations and ended up calling it a night… well, let’s just say the sun was rising when we finally went to bed.

And that was a common theme throughout the weekend.

After a quick breakfast on Saturday, we hopped in an Uber and headed to NoHo where I visited my friends at John Varvatos’ pop-up shop. They were hosting a Guns N’ Roses pop-up shop for the two shows in East Rutherford. Danny and I grabbed a couple of GNR shirts and made our way over to the 4 train, riding uptown to the Bronx.

The Yankees were hosting the Giants in the second of a three-game series and it was Military Appreciation Day at the Stadium. In addition to the ceremonies, the team gave away camouflage Yankees hat to the first 18,000 fans over the age of 21 (the cap was sponsored by Budweiser).


We snagged a few Bloody Marys and walked over to our seats in the bleachers; section 203 to be exact. The “Bleachers Creatures” section was far from full capacity but we did our best to assist in Roll Call (wherein the Creatures chant each name of the Yankees infield and outfield until they acknowledge the fans).

Then we sat. And sat. And sat. After a disappointing 12 innings, the Yankees were handed a brutal 2-1 loss. But, we made some friends who were visiting the Stadium for the first time via… Australia! So we felt it our obligation to at least bring them to Stan’s for a beer so they could completely their quintessential American baseball outing.

Saturday night was spent back in my neighborhood and let’s just say Sunday was definitely a sleep-in day. But even with waking up in the afternoon, we still got in a run before showering and meeting a few of my friends for drinks at a local watering hole nearby. Then we walked to the 1 and got off at Penn Station. Next stop: NJ Transit to the Meadowlands, via a transfer in scenic Secaucus. Lenny Kravitz took the stage around 8:30. Guns N’ Roses followed around 9:45.

Here’s what I thought of the show:

Believe it or not, but there was a Sunday night cap on our return trip to Penn: a walk to Times Square and a few rounds at the classic Jimmy’s Corner. Jimmy was a “corner guy” in boxing; worked with all of the big names. He’s owned this little gem forever and it is the only reason why anyone should want to go to Times Square.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Given my weekend, I slept in Monday too. But it was all worth it. Besides, when will I get to see Axl Rose and Slash on stage together again?

Probably not in this lifetime.

So let me tell you about the time I was in the visiting team’s batting cage at Yankee Stadium chatting with Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood.

The story begins on Friday when I approach John Foxx, who in addition to hosting afternoons on 95.5 PLJ is the Program Director of NASH FM 94.7. We usually chop it up about weekend plans and hang out when possible. Obviously he had the two massive Garth shows to cover at Yankee Stadium. While I am not a lifelong country fan, I certainly have an appreciation for both Brooks and the genre; fun fact: I even helped launch NASH FM’s social media pages when the station signed on the air in 2014.

And if you missed the memo, I am a diehard Yankees fan.

I jumped at the opportunity to head to the stadium and possibly meet Garth on Saturday. Foxx and I live close to each other so we agree to share an Uber up to the Bronx that afternoon. Our first stop is the Hard Rock Café inside Yankee Stadium, because NASH FM is broadcasting live from there before the show. The Yankees are in Cleveland for a 4:05 pm first pitch, so I figure it will be a great place to also catch the game.

We walked in to the Hard Rock at Yankee Stadium around 4:15. The game was not on a single TV; three of the TVs at the bar were actually turned on to MLS soccer.

I could not believe it.

After asking the hostesses if I could get the Yankees game on… in the Hard Rock Café… at Yankee Stadium… they obliged.

A few Bloody Mary’s and a nacho platter (Foxx insisted) later, we made our way to will call, grabbed tickets and wrist bands and headed inside the Stadium. Once we were there, a member of Garth’s team grabbed us and brought us in to the Champions Suite, accessible during games to fans with Legends or Champions level tickets.

I’ve never had either so I’m now full out kid-in-a-candy-store mode.

There are snacks and libations waiting for us, as we wait for Garth. If you’re wondering the answer is no, the promoter did not have the TVs on the Yankees game; they were shut off. So I’m literally in Yankee Stadium, using its WiFi to watch the game on my BlackBerry.


A few beers later (alcohol also provides a nice transition), another member of Garth’s team takes us in to the back hall way, past the visiting team’s clubhouse and in to the indoor batting cage. There are a few couches and love seats set-up in the middle of the narrow room along with a step-and-repeat. Shortly after the seven of us sit down, Garth and Trisha walk in. They take a seat and we just chat for 15 minutes.

Seriously, why don’t I do country radio?

We wrapped with a squad photo and individual photos. On our way out we were handed swag bags that included Garth and Trisha’s latest albums, t-shirts and more.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Of course it should be known by now that for as many trips up to the Bronx as I’ve made over the years, this is surely one I won’t forget any time soon.