July 19, 2014


Filed under: Blog,Brooklyn — hoopscoach @ 7:09 am

I’m often asked, “Where ya from?”

When people hear me talk they assume I’m from the East Coast.

“You from Jersey?”

“No, I’m not from Jersey…”

Or I get,

“Are you from Boston?”

“No, I’m not from Boston…”

Quickly I respond,

“I’m from Brooklyn.”

I don’t say New York.

Nor do I say, “East Coast.”

It’s always “Brooklyn.”

Then I proceed to tell them what neighborhood after they ask, “What part?”

But I pause for a split second before I answer.

Forgive me but Windsor Terrace sounds…well wrong.

If I say Park Slope, I’m like, ‘shit, Park Slope, really’? I’m not from Park Slope. I remember a small gang used to call themselves the Park Slope Boys. “PSB” for short.

Or I’ll say, “Right by Prospect Park.”

But the Park covers a lot of ground.

Am I from the other side of the park?

Which part of the Park?

Grand Army Plaza?

“You know, by Farrell’s.”

Or I’ll say “Right by Bishop Ford.”

Oh shit, can’t say that anymore – Ford is closed.

Back in the day we used to say, “I’m from Holy Name.”

Hanging out at Manhattan Beach playing ball on a hot summer day.

“Where you from?”

“St. Mark’s.”

“Yo, where you from?”

“Regina Pacis.”

We were identified with a parish back in the day.

“I’m from Holy Name.”

I was always intrigued about where people were from.

“Where do you come from?”


“You play CYO?”

“Yeah, I play for OLPH.”

“Oh, you live down by East 5th?”

“Yeah, I play for IHM.”

See what I mean?

Basketball connected you and your neighborhood.

“I’m from St. Saviour’s,” the kid from first street would explain while he was up in the Holy Name boys schoolyard watching the summer league.

Here’s what I remember about each parish.

IHM: Jackie Ryan, East 5th street park, Dan Leary, and Chris Ryan.

St. Rose of Lima: Small gym. Coney Island Avenue. Tommy Sina and Tommy Baker.

St. Saviour’s: Chris Logan, Carl, a small gym, all girls high school. My boy Jimmy Parker and a pretty good player, David Quinn.

Visitation: Red Hook.  All black players. Murray. F-train to Smith and 9th.

OLA: Bay Ridge. RR. Carl Flickinger. Long court. 4th avenue. Dennis Nolan and Tommy Lowney.

OLPH: Billy Thurlow. My career high in CYO, 32 points. Getting thrown out of a game. The high school my younger sister attended.

Regina Pacis: Cool Locker Room. Bowling alley. Fans stood upstairs. Scoring my first bucket in the 3rd grade. Steve Leondis. His team beat us 63-9.

St. Finbar: Bensonhurst. They beat us 29-3. Frankie Cullen scored all three points for our Bantam ‘B’ team.

St. Mary Mother of Jesus: Bensonhurst. John Pitlak. Gerard Genevieve and Manny Fernandez.

OLG: Playing for Ty Cobbs, we crushed them. Guadalupe, not Grace.  A kid choking me during the game. Bensonhurst.

St. Mark’s: Gravesend. Louie Zito.

Holy Family: 4th avenue.  They once asked me to play for their team. Boosted my self-esteem. Slice.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Chris Mullin. King Tournament.

St. Agatha: I always had a good game there.

St. Vincent Ferrer: Their court was hard as rock. When I dove for a loose ball, I complained that I should have had knee pads on. They used to have a good men’s league there.  Gerard Trapp had a good team.  First time I ever saw Ziggy. Kevin Greaney.

Holy Innocents: (Candy Man)

St. Athanasius: Some great battles not only in basketball but baseball too. I recall their gym being in the basement and across the street was Bishop Kearney, an all-girls high school.

St. Patrick’s: Last stop on the RR train. Allen Sheehan. Under the bridge.

Yo! Where you from?


July 17, 2014


Filed under: Blog,CHSAA — hoopscoach @ 2:23 pm


July 15, 2014


An interesting take on Brooklyn over the years. Nice mention of the neighborhood.

In Windsor Terrace, Sunday-afternoon drinkers holding plastic foam cups of Budweiser spill onto the sidewalk outside Farrell’s, where Pete Hamill’s father spent many a twilight, while yammering 20-somethings pick from an impressive and rotating selection of craft beers at the Double Windsor across the avenue. I’ve happily stood at each bar when it was three-drinkers deep.


July 12, 2014


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 8:50 pm

IMG_1585Red, Bobby and Jimmy

July 10, 2014


Filed under: Blog,Kenny Murray — hoopscoach @ 6:43 am

Received word this morning that Kenny Murray has passed away.

The wake will be held at Scalia Funeral Home.

28 Eltingville Blvd. in Staten Island on Friday 2-5 and 7-9 PM.


Here is a link

July 8, 2014


Filed under: Blog,Schoolyard — hoopscoach @ 1:43 pm

Out here on my own.

Thursday night.

Late July.

Hot as hell. Probably the hottest night this summer.

We spent the afternoon at Brighton Beach. I got an awful sunburn.

Now I’m perturbed.

Mom left for upstate with my sister. I didn’t want to go because I had a summer league game in the boys schoolyard. We lost. I barely played. The coach is a jerk. He barely plays me. Why am I even on the team? I think of quitting.

The bottom door of our apartment is locked; I check my shorts for the key. Oh shit, I lost it.

Now I’m fucked. They won’t be back until late Sunday night. Shit, I should have went with them.

It’s after eleven, summer league is over, it’s pitch dark in the boys schoolyard, I go back and try to find the key.

It had to fall out of my jean shorts while I was sitting down. This isn’t the first time I lost my key.

Walking around in fucking circles, I can’t find anything. Wish the lights were still on.

I’m frustrated as shit.

One night Danny forgot to shut the lights off so I came back at midnight with my ball and got some shots up until a priest threw me out. Hey at least I was staying out of trouble, right?

I give up looking for the key after ten minutes; story of my life.

No persistence.

The key has to be here somewhere, no?

Screw this.

I’m outta here.

Walking down Prospect Avenue towards Fuller Place I think I’ll go to my cousins house.

They own a sweet house with a cool front porch that no one ever sits on.

I like going over there. My Aunt and Uncle are cool.

My cousins, well let’s just say they’re like my brothers and sisters.

I hang a left on Fuller and see a few people out on their stoops.

“Hey Red, how you doing?” an old lady asked me.

She’s sitting on her porch. It looks comfortable. Wish she would invite me up to have a seat next to her.

But that probably ain’t happening. I don’t think anyone on Fuller Place likes me to tell you the truth.

I wave and keep going.

There’s a girl I know who lives in the corner house, she’s walking her dog. I smile at her. She pays me no mind as I pass her.

As I walk up the steps At twenty-nine Fuller Place, I look through the window and the lights are off.

Oh shit, don’t tell me no one’s home?

There’s always someone home.

Where could they be?

Whenever I play stickball on Fuller Place and I have to hit the bathroom, I always run inside, up the stairs and use their bathroom.

“You only come here when you have to take a shit!” My uncle shouted from the kitchen. He likes to break my balls.

I glance at him and smile.

Out the door and back to my stickball game…

But tonight there’s no one home.

Good thing I don’t have to go to the bathroom. I try opening the  front door but it’s locked. The doorknob doesn’t move. It’s weird because when they are home, they never lock their door.

I take a peek in the neighbor’s window and there’s someone on the couch watching television. He’s laughing at something.

Walking down Fuller towards Windsor Place I hang a sharp right and head towards tenth avenue.

There’s a crowd outside the Windsor Pub.

A couple of guys are yelling. The noise gets louder as I get closer.

Maybe my brother’s there, I’ll get the key from him. But he gets mad when he see’s me around the bar. So maybe I should keep going down to 154 schoolyard. There’s a girl I have my eye on who lives on Horace Court, maybe she’s hanging out?

I get closer to the group on the corner and there’s a big fight.

A couple of guys are on the floor, rolling around punching the shit out of each other.

“KICK HIS FUCKIN’ ASS!” one guy demanded, as he holds a bottle of beer in his left hand.

I hear a cop car coming along tenth avenue from Prospect Park southwest; the siren, the lights flashing. It’s like a scene out of ‘Dog Day Afternoon’.

I have a feeling there’s going to be some heads smashed in. The cops don’t take any shit from anyone.

A few people who live nearby are out on their stoop taking in the action. They probably called the cops.


Step outside.

Throw down.

Go back inside.

Bartender buys the two fighters a drink.

The black and white pulls up in front of the bar.

Two cops get out with nightsticks. They leave the car doors wide open. I move closer, to get a better look.

“BREAK IT UP!” one cop ordered as he muscles his way through the group.

The two cops make their way to the two fighters on the ground and pull them apart. The cops look funny because one is real tall, the other is short.

“GO BACK IN THE BAR YOU BUMS!” the taller cop shouts.

“YEAH, DON’T MAKE US COME BACK HERE AGAIN,” his partner stressed.

Both fighters do as they’re told and walk into the bar.

One of the fighters picks up his blue, New York Mets baseball cap and places it on his head; it’s backwards.

The cops walk back into their car and drive away. The cop on the passenger side looks at me.

“Get home, it’s late,” he says.

I head across tenth avenue towards Prospect Avenue.

“Get home?” He’s gotta be kidding, right?

I don’t have a fucking key. I’m locked out.

“Excuse me Mr. Officer, can I sit in the back of your patrol car and cruise with you guys?”

McBears is quiet.

Just a few people sitting at the bar. Not a soul out on the corner in front of the bar.

Across the street there’s a girl sitting on the stoop of the deli.

I walk across Prospect Avenue notice it’s Mary, a good-looking blonde who lives on Prospect Avenue; we used to be in the same class together at Holy Name.

She’s crying.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She looks up and shakes her head, “Nothing,” she assured me.

I don’t know what to say.

She probably had a fight with her boyfriend. He’s always yelling at her.

Mary has her head down, hands on the side of her head.

Looking across the street I see two people walking out of McBears, they’re clearly drunk. A Car Service pulls up, they hop in and make a dash up Prospect Avenue.

I don’t waste Mary’s time, leaving her alone I head up Prospect Avenue, towards ninth avenue.

‘Take care,” I offered.

She kept crying.

What else could I have done?

What should I had said to her?

Should I have sat down and talked to her?

Yeah right, then her boyfriend pulls up in a car with his friends and they kick my ass.

I get to the corner of ninth and Prospect outside the church.

I look at Jesus on the cross.

“What am I gonna do Jesus?”

He stares back at me.

“I’m locked out of my house.”

Again, no answer from the son of God.

There’s a homeless guy sitting on the church steps, he’s sniffing a brown bag filled with glue.

I head across the avenue and walking towards me is La-La.

Holy shit, he’s gonna kill me.

It was just a couple of days ago we made fun of him and he chased us down to PS 154’s.

La-La is deaf. He always wears black dress shoes. We break his balls often. He’s never caught us. I once saw him go to the rectory and cry like a baby to a priest.

I think of crossing the avenue but it’s too late.

We cross paths and he looks at me. We make eye contact and I thought I was going to piss my pants right there.

He stops. I keep going past him.

I speed up as I pass Key Ford.

I turn around to look back and he’s still looking at me.

“FUCK YOU!” I shout.  to him.


That’s what he said.

That’s all he ever says along with pointing his finger at you like my third grade teacher Miss Lynn.

I pick up the pace and quickly turn the corner at Windsor and ninth and head down towards eighth avenue.

Thank God La-La didn’t chase me. I’m in no mood to run.


July 6, 2014


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 7:12 am


As a kid living on ninth avenue, music was a big part of my life.

Mom would have the ultimate record collection and of course the 8-track cartridges scattered around the apartment.

My friends and I hung out on the street and someone always had a boom box.

Every bar in the neighborhood had a jukebox (except Farrell’s, but they got one now) I knew they would come around. As a twelve-year old I was feeding quarters into the Jukebox in Timboo’s playing ‘Spill that Wine’.

Besides wanting to play in the NBA, I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to be a singer or a drummer. See Ringo Starr.

I studied song lyrics like an English major reads Moby Dick.  I pissed mom off because I sang too loud in the shower. Shoot, I would sing out on the streets like I was Mick Jagger.

Guess what? The music we listened to back in the 70’s and 80’s is easy to get, thanks to i-tunes, right?

But check this out, I have to give a special shout out to my main man Frankie Pa-Pa from Windsor and 8th for telling me about 101.1 CBS radio, New York’s Greatest Hits.

I logged on to their website, downloaded their app and I am blasting B.T.O, “Takin’ Care of Business.”

That song takes me back to my main man Phil McNiff.

You get up every morning
From your ‘larm clock’s warning
Take the 8:15 into the city

Old school baby…

Thanks Frankie…

Click the link below, hit the “Listen Live” button and go back, back into time.


July 5, 2014


Filed under: American Flag,Blog,Windsor Terrace — hoopscoach @ 7:36 am
Tags: ,

My friend Pat Fenton will not like this story.

The New York Post reports that someone has swiped a few American Flags in the neighborhood.

A coldhearted thief stole American flags from homes along a patriotic stretch of a Brooklyn neighborhood ahead of Fourth of July festivities, leaving residents upset and scratching their heads over who would commit such a heartbreaking crime.

One of the flags that went missing either late Thursday or early Friday had been flown in Iraq and was given to Windsor Terrace residents George and Anne Burke in 2008 by a friend in the US Army, the couple told The Post.

“We’re quite upset about it. It’s very disturbing. On July Fourth, this is what we find!” said the couple’s daughter Karen Burke Abruzzese, 45. “We live in America, the land of freedom, and I don’t know who would do this.”The family had proudly displayed the banner outside their home at 1628 10th Ave. Abruzzese said her mom went out for coffee at 7:30 a.m. when she noticed it was gone.

“The pole was smashed in half and in the street. And then we noticed a couple other neighbor’s flags were gone,” Abruzzese said.

Click the link below to read more…


July 3, 2014


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 12:08 pm

July 1, 2014


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 6:50 pm

I know everyone was juiced over USA’s performance in the World Cup. I got caught up in it too but as a kid I was not into playing soccer.

My boy Louie Mastrandrea and his family were into soccer. We used to go to Giants Stadium to watch the Cosmos and maybe we played soccer on tenth avenue or the lot but I never played for an organized team.

I know we had some soccer players in the neighborhood, matter of fact Holy Name had a team but I was just never into it.


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