Weehawken native Benny Ricciardi has always been fascinated with the world of fantasy sports.
“I guess I’ve been playing fantasy since I was 14 years old,” said Ricciardi, now a 36-year-old father of three. “I think I’ve been playing every second since then.”
Ricciardi also found instant success in the games, which features selecting players from the major professional sports and putting them on a team, then competing against others, sometimes for big money.
“I won $1,000 when I was 15,” Ricciardi said. “That’s a crap load of money for a teenaged kid. Over the years, I played in more leagues off that.”
After graduating from high school and going on to college, Ricciardi started attending law school, then worked in the world of finance in Manhattan. He found that he didn’t like that lifestyle, so he pursued a teaching career as a substitute and a part-time basketball coach, first with Weehawken Recreation and later on Weehawken High.
“I was also doing odds and ends jobs,” Ricciardi said.
At the same time, Ricciardi then started to dabble in the daily fantasy sports games found online at sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
“I realized I was pretty good at it,” Ricciardi said. “I had some good weeks and then others where I treaded water. But I decided that if I was going to do it the right way, I had to go all in.”
So Ricciardi started to look for information about daily fantasy leagues and came across a website called Rotogrinder.
“I wrote a blog for them and it was voted best blog,” Ricciardi said.”They said they really liked my stuff. I liked to write, so it was perfect.”
Ricciardi then decided to become a full-time fantasy sports player. He got gigs on radio stations talking about fantasy sports and wrote articles to supplement his fantasy sports income.
“My wife [Anna] has always been supportive of me and what I do,” Ricciardi said. “The moment she said it was okay, I was all in.”
Ricciardi is a host on satellite radio’s FNTSY Radio and TV, doing two shows daily in New York, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. In between, Ricciardi takes care of his three kids, Dylan (age 8), Colin (age 6) and Ethan (age 22 months).
And recently, Ricciardi published his first book, entitled “Benny Ricciardi's Definitive Guide to Fantasy Baseball,” which can be purchased online from Amazon.com.
The book came out in March and has been doing well. In fact, Ricciardi is planning to do a similar book for the start of football season.
“I thought I could do this,” Ricciardi said about making a living out of fantasy sports. “It’s not an easy business to break into. But it’s a good thing, because I can make my own hours and take care of the kids.”
Of course, Ricciardi has to do his homework to be informed to his readers, listeners and followers. So in his home office, Ricciardi has two computer screens and his laptop in constant motion, watching highlights, reading notes across the country in all the major sports.
The book is about baseball, but Ricciardi also talks and writes about the NBA. Come the fall, his attention will be on the NFL. The games never end.
“I just want to see how far this can take me,” Ricciardi said.
Ricciardi didn’t want to divulge how successful and proficient he’s become at fantasy sports.
“It’s a living,” he said…
The high school baseball and softball seasons are almost two weeks old. Incredibly, only one local team is without a loss already and that is the St. Dominic Academy softball team.
Under the guidance of new head coach John Bigler, the former Hoboken High baseball standout, the Blue Devils are 4-0, thanks to the pitching prowess of junior Ariel Concepcion.
Concepcion already has a win against defending Hudson County champion Kearny under her belt, a game where she fired a three-hitter and struck out seven. Concepcion also had 12 strikeouts in a two-hitter against Snyder and 10 strikeouts in a win over McNair Academic…
Ferris is off to a flying 4-1 start, thanks to junior pitcher Jaylene Sierra, who struck out 11 in wins over Marist and Lincoln, struck out 10 in a win over Bayonne and nine in a win over McNair. Sierra also has seven hits, including a homer, and four RBI…
Marist got its first win of the season against Hoboken, with Britney Murchinson pitching a five-hitter and striking out 11. Marist head coach Crystal Vargas said it was the first time she remembers the Royal Knights defeating the Redwings…
In baseball, a pair of Joshuas have made their mark in the early part of the season. Hudson Catholic’s Joshua Ortiz has a 2-0 record thus far with wins over North Brunswick and Colonia. Ortiz fired a three-hitter and struck out seven in the win over North Brunswick.
Marist’s Joshua Miller had 10 strikeouts in a win over Hoboken. Miller has also done well at the plate, collecting six hits and scoring seven runs for the 4-1 Royal Knights…
Memorial standout Justin Willis suffered a separated shoulder in a collision running the bases last Saturday against St. Mary’s of Rutherford. It’s unknown how long Willis will be out of action. The injured shoulder is his right shoulder, his pitching arm. Willis has already signed a national letter of intent to attend Vanderbilt University in the fall…
Don’t forget that the Weehawken Autism Awareness Challenge will take place in Weehawken over the next few weeks. The softball portion of the action will be Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23, while the baseball bonanza will be a four-day event with games Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 27 through April 30…
Next week, we will have more about the two new football coaches in Hudson County at Weehawken and Hoboken. The new coach at Hoboken is a very familiar name, a legendary one. And no, it’s not Ed Stinson…
Hudson Reporter High School Baseball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (3-2). 2. Bayonne (6-1). 3. St. Anthony (5-1). 4. Memorial (4-2). 5. Hudson Catholic (4-1)…
Hudson Reporter High School Softball Top Five: 1. North Bergen (4-1). 2. St. Dominic (4-0). 3. Hudson Catholic (3-1). 4. Ferris (4-1). 5. Weehawken (2-1)…--Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com