The Past, The Present, The Future of The Battle of the Bronx

Nick Brennan shooting a corner three against Fordham on Nov. 11, 2021. MANHATTAN.EDU/ COURTESY

By Isaiah Rosario, Sports Editor

Manhattan College vs. Fordham University, Jaspers vs. Rams, Draddy Gymnasium vs. Rose Hill Gymnasium, green vs. maroon, only 2.6 miles separating the battlegrounds for this historic rivalry. The ongoing battle between the two Bronx schools in basketball has been happening since 1912 on the men’s side and since 1982 on the women’s side. 

“Like any rivalry, The Battle of the Bronx was born out of proximity and great competition,” Fordham Athletic Director Ed Kull wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “Over the past 108 meetings of the two men’s programs, each has 54 wins. There have been periods of Fordham dominance and eras where Manhattan had the upper hand, but I think all generations of Ram fans recognize Fordham-Manhattan as the great rivalry that it is.”

The head-to-head matchup is close on the men’s side as the Jaspers have beaten the Rams 59 times and lost 54 times. On the women’s side, head-to-head is just as close as the Lady Jaspers have beaten the Rams only 23 times compared to the Rams tallying 28 wins. The Jaspers have won the last two matchups and the Lady Jaspers have lost the last ten. 

The first matchup on the men’s side was on Jan. 1, 1912, as the Jaspers beat the Rams, 20-19. On the women’s side, Lady Jaspers lost to the Rams on Jan. 26, 1982, with a score of 53-58. 

The previous matchups between these two teams resulted in different winners. On the men’s side, the Jaspers beat Fordham 66-60 on Nov. 12, 2021. On the women’s side, the Rams beat the Lady Jaspers and lost to the Rams 65-55 on Dec. 3, 2022.

Forward Petra Juric stated that playing against Fordham last year was one of her favorite games of the season. Despite the loss, she reiterated that the atmosphere was incredible and is hoping to win her next Battle of the Bronx. 

The athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and administrators on both campuses make sure to circle their calendars when Manhattan and Fordham play each other, no matter the sport. Unfortunately for both of the men’s basketball teams, they were unable to play in a Battle of the Bronx last year. 

Last year, Athletic Director Kull and former Athletic Director Marianne Reilly released a joint statement speaking about the hiatus that the Battle of the Bronx took in 2022-23 for the men. 

“While we are disappointed that we will not be playing the long-standing series this year, we are looking forward to both programs resuming competition next year and in the future,” Kull and Reilly said.

Despite the hiatus in the 2022-23 for the men, the Battle of the Bronx is back for 2023. The Jaspers are expected to play Fordham on Nov. 27 at 7 P.M. at Fordham and the Lady Jaspers expect to play Fordham on Nov. 16 at 7 P.M. at Fordham. 

“Obviously it was a tough loss [against George Washington],” Juric said when speaking about the loss and the upcoming game against Fordham. “We know what we need to work on, offense execution. Fordham is going to be a tough matchup especially because it’s a Battle of the Bronx. It’s a lot of people coming, we are ready and we’ll be ready for Thursday and we hope to have a good game.”

With historic rivalries, comes a lot of emotion, especially with teams located in the Bronx. One of the most historic rivalries in all of the sports includes a team from the Bronx, the New York Yankees and their rivalry against the Boston Red Sox. 

Despite there being a stalemate in the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees as of late, in 2018 the rivalry was ignited as former Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly threw at former Yankee Tyler Austin as a result of a hard slide at second base and a brawl ensued. In games where emotions are high, it is important to live in the moment and enjoy the best of rivalries. 

“I think it’s very important that we maintain our composure because it is a fun matchup plus a number of our players, know players on their team, they play against each other in the summer,” head coach Heather Vulin said. “[One of] Jade [Blagrove’s] very best friends [Emy Hayford], who’s one of the best players on Fordham is one of her best friends from back home. It’s always fun when you have those other dynamics instead of just hopping on the core and playing a basketball game. I feel like both of them will have something to prove to each other.”

Maintaining composure is a critical aspect of rivalry games, as tensions get higher and higher, whether that be leading up to the game or during the game. When athletes get on the field or court during rivalry games, there is an extra gear that gets kicked on no matter what side you are on. 

“It’s natural for any athlete to kick his or her game into extra gear for a rivalry matchup,” Kull wrote. “Our coaches and student-athletes know that they feel the same way on the Manhattan side, so you can’t take a night off in this rivalry … We may have won 25 games last year, but no one is looking past this game.”

A major factor of the recruitment of high school students is the desire to play in massive college rivalries such as Duke University vs. University of North Carolina, University Michigan vs. Ohio State University and Manhattan College vs. Fordham University. 

These rivalries create some of the best atmospheres in professional sports across the world. The Battle of the Bronx and other cross-town rivalries allow local student-athletes to play in one of the biggest rivalries in the state.  

“The Battle of the Bronx helps especially with the recruitment of local student-athletes,” Kull wrote. “Maybe they attended those games growing up and loved the rivalry atmosphere, maybe they just want the opportunity to play as much as possible in front of their friends and family. I think it allows potential and current student-athletes to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Given our new television partnership with SNY, I’m hopeful that more people than ever will get to witness this year’s Battle of the Bronx.”