One of the greatest center’s in the history of the Holy Name summer league, Danny Mahoney, mentioned Noona Taylor in the comments section a few days ago. Mahoney swatted away more shots than any player ever! Only problem is they didn’t keep blocked shots as an official stat in the summer league.
The wonderful story-telling Pat Fenton has written about Taylor in his short-stories/essays on Windsor Terrace.
The ever friendly Denis Hamill discussing in a NY Daily News article how his older brother, the great Pete Hamill describing to him Noona’s legendary toughness along with his two-hour fist fight with Ray Grillo.
According to my older brother Pete, two classic fistfights between Noona Taylor of the Tigers and Ray Grillo of South Brooklyn, lasted at least 20 brutal minutes each, with no timeouts, just pure bare-knuckle brawls. Both fights ended when cops arrived.
I used to see Noona every weekend down at Timboo’s bar on the corner of 11th street and 5th avenue. It seemed like every bar had their own crews; Timboo’s, Tug Boat, Gerard’s, Farrell’s, Windsor Pub, McBears, Lauterbach’s and Smith’s.
Noona was the uncle of the late Joe ‘Fonz’ Farrell. Fonz was my 6th grade baseball and basketball coach at Holy Name. I can remember Fonz talking about Noona when I would tell him I was going down to Timboo’s.
“My uncle hangs out down there,” he would say to me.
Pete Hamill’s description of a fist fight in May of 1950 between Noona and Ray Grillo in Prospect Park brought back memories of when I was a kid hanging out with the Gooch in Timboo’s.
“Two of the neighborhood’s toughest,” my friend Phil McNiff told me. “Those two legends have passed on.”
That must have been some fight between the two brawlers.
Noona, who worked as a Steamfitter was a member of the gang “The Tigers” and Grillo, a Local 40 Ironworker was down with the “South Brooklyn Boys.”
Hamill said the fight lasted 20 minutes, before the cops showed up and stopped it.
In my early 20’s while I was trying to find my niche as an Ironworker, I worked with Ray’s son. He was a great guy, he gave me a ride home a couple of times after work in a sweet Nova. Often times I would see Ray on the corner of 11th street and 5th avenue hanging out with his dark khaki’s, short sleeve dress shirt and a sweet looking pork-pie hat.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his folded up newspaper sticking out of his back pocket.
What many people don’t realize is Ray was an undefeated light-heavyweight boxer back in 1954 and 1955 with a record of 10-0!
My guy Phil McNiff passed this story along to me back when he was a nine year-old boy.
My mother was taking me and my sister for Chinese food on 9th Street, Sun Joy! Ray was walking down the block and we were walking up the block when two sailors started giving my mother a hard time. Ray walked over to my mother and said, “Peggy take the two kids and walk up the block”. I remember looking back, being curious; Ray had knocked the two sailors out cold! We talked about that for years! Ray was a man of very few words but plenty of action.As tough as Ray was he was a gentleman as was Noona!
Noona Taylor and Ray Grillo were two guys you didn’t want to mess with…