Jose is taking a break from his winter job at a South Bronx pizza joint.
“It’s too cold,” he says. “Baseball season is better because I can stand outside and take care of business.”
Jose’s baseball business operates on a 50-foot stretch of River Avenue just outside Yankee Stadium.
“I’ve worked it for 10 years,” he says. “I had to fight to get it, but it’s mine.”
And he rules it with an iron fist.
“I ain’t gonna let anyone cut in,” Jose says. “There’s a bunch of us around and we stay out of each others way, most of the time.”
There is honor among scalpers.
“I’m a ticket broker,” he snaps. “I don’t make anyone do anything they don’t want. If you want tickets, I’ve got ‘em. If you don’t, keep walkin’.”
I thought of Jose when I heard that the Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles were charging more for tickets when the Yankees come to town this year.
“Yeah,” he laughs, “that’s the way I do it, too. The Red Sox and Mets are my most expensive. You want ‘em, you gotta pay.”
The Rockies and Orioles are not the hottest tickets in the Bronx.
“I did okay the last time the Rockies were here because Bernie was going for his 2,000th hit,” he explains. “The Orioles used to be pretty good, but now they’re for the birds.”
Laughing at his own joke, Jose continues. “It doesn’t really matter who they are playing anymore. The Yankees are what people come to see.”
But life isn’t always perfect on River Avenue.
“The cops have grabbed me, maybe, five of six times,” he explains. “They always seem to get you early and your business is wrecked for that game. It sucks if it’s Red Sox, but what are you gonna do?”
What about Rockies CEO Charlie Monfort and Orioles Chairman of the Board and CEO Peter Angelos cutting in on his action?
“I don’t care what they do in Denver or Baltimore,” Jose says, “but they better stay off my corner.”