BEHIND THE CHAIN LINKED FENCE

My official home address was 228A Prospect Park West.  But, I grew up in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name; it was my second home.

Didn’t matter if it was after school Monday through Friday, early Saturday morning or right after the last mass let out on Sunday.  I recall one time they actually locked the fence on Howard Place on Sunday’s just to keep us out.

And of course, watching the summer league at night.

Observing the older guys battle every night was an education in the game itself.

The afternoons showcased ballplayers like Gerard Trapp, Jimmy Rauthier, Brian Keating, Richie Deere, John Corrar and many others.  When they played three-on-three, the games were intense.  You did not want to lose because you found yourself on the side waiting for the next run which could be a while.

The money-league was always competitive.  I used to like watching players from other neighborhoods show up from all over; they walked, rode their bikes, took the train or bus and some showed up in cars.

I often talk with friends on a daily basis and we discuss the schoolyard; we all agree that it will never be the same.  The same as back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when we spent so much time on the concrete jungle.

IMG_1904

Stepping out of my apartment on the corner of Windsor and Ninth I would cross the avenue and head down Windsor Place.  Hanging a right on Howard Place I would make my way up to the yard walking alongside of my grammar school Holy Name.  I’d glance across the street and see families outside on their front porch watching me head to the only place I felt comfortable.  I’d listen for the bouncing balls and the voices.  It wasn’t hard, because if you were an athlete, you could be found playing ball in the boys schoolyard. Once inside, I found my paradise; paved paradise.

A few guys that I miss playing against and with from the yard:

The Cullen’s; Jimmy, Frankie and Dave.

Sean and Mickey Reilly

Jimmy Corrar

Michael Campbell

Ricky Ferro

Glenn Thomas

Joe Lee

Jimmy Wheeler

Michael Scotto Di-Clemente

Andrew Purdy

Jimmy Maloney

Eddie Cush

Danny Mills

Michael Slavin

Julian Ramos

Patrick Byrnes

Timmy Kemp

Barry Welch

CJ, Chris and Carlos Robinson

Tito and Jose Martinez

Greg Wood

Richie and Bobby Dixon

Kevin Mahoney

Kevin Molloy

John Godfrey

Edgar Dela-Rosa

Gammie

As young kids we showed up early on a Saturday morning.  Played until noon, went home for lunch, came back and played some more before dinner.

After we ate we’d hustle back and play some more.

At night, usually around ten, we would get tossed out by the brothers from over in the rectory.  It was scary because you would hear this loud voice but not see anyone

“HEY YOU KIDS, GET OUTTA THE SCHOOLYARD!”

Holy shit, was that God? I often thought to myself.

The people who lived on Howard Place were cool, they never complained about us dribbling into the night. Maybe they did but just tolerated all the noise?

Besides one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three, we would play games like Taps, Around the World, Twenty-One and H.O.R.S.E

There were countless nights between the ages of 13 and 17, things weren’t going right at home.  I’d take my ball and head over to the yard to sit down on the cold concrete on the middle court and stare up at the stars dreaming of playing in the NBA.

When I go back to Brooklyn, I make it a point to stop by the yard.  And every time I’m there, its empty.

I’m looking forward to this coming November; I’m making a special trip.  The weather should be decent. I’m going to make sure I get a few jump shots up at the baskets in the yard.  If I don’t have a basketball handy, I will walk across the street to the Trapp’s house and peek down their basement stairs for one.

Respectfully,

Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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17 Responses to BEHIND THE CHAIN LINKED FENCE

  1. Glenn Thomas says:

    You put me on lists that I don’t belong and omit me from the ones that I do belong on! LOL.

  2. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Those were great days, Steve!

    I remember the year you ran a summer league for us younger guys, I think it was in ’84. There were four teams, Lakers, Blazers, Celtics and Knicks. You were the Commissioner, referee, and time keeper all rolled into one! Lol!

    • hoopscoach says:

      LOL…Kevin, you are right. I did it all. And I was bad at all three but the most important thing was you guys were given a chance to play.

  3. jim casey says:

    thanks for the fine column
    you could substitute your experience for mine in the 50s and 60s–almost verbatim
    just change the names –idols–john vesey, billy anton, danny mills
    contemporaries–jimmy maloney, danny kennedy, franny anton, donny kent, mickey mcnally, tommy tex cummins

    • hoopscoach says:

      Thanks Jim…

      What HS did Billy Anton attend?

      • jim casey says:

        not sure
        his brother, franny, went to loughlin

      • George Farrell says:

        Billy went to St. Michaels out on 43rd Street. He played ball all four years there and then I lost track of him (I used to follow every CHSAA box score I could find). Billy was the star of our 1955 Holy Name Diocesan championship team along with Danny Mills and Dan McNulty. I cannot remember the other guys on that team. Toughest team we had to face on the road to the title was St . Cyril and Methodius who had a huge Ukranian kid who was unstoppable. We employed the first-known “hack a Shaq” on this dude and won by a point. The guy could not hit a free throw to save his behind but in the post he was incredibly strong. Dan McNulty lived on Sherman St and became a priest. His father owned McNulty’s saloon on 17 St.

      • hoopscoach says:

        Thanks George, that’s good stuff.

        Red

    • hoopscoach says:

      Jim Casey,

      Too bad the kids today can’t experience what we went through in the yard.
      Hope all is well…

    • jim casey says:

      add 2 contemporaries
      tommy conlin, mike trapp

  4. jimmyvac says:

    I also played baseball (about 90-100 games ) so I was not in the yard as much as you and others. But I always liked going there to run a game or practice by myself. A much belated thank you to you , Danny, Mr. McNALLY, Rich, Gerald and others for running the summer league at the highest level.

  5. jimmyvac says:

    i remember playing football in the yard. we played slapball, pitch it in, cocleeveo, doubewall, catch a fly and your up in the girls…As Jim Casy said about his group, I think we were the last group to carry on the tradition of the street games.. I remember being angry ed when they took the hoops down.. it kept alot of kids out of trouble playing ball …

  6. George Farrell says:

    Funny story about HNS hoops from the wayback machine. Bill Anton was a great athlete/scholar who qualified for St. Michael’s Diocesan HS as a top student. St. Mike’s only took the top two or three guys from each Catholic grammar school within their catchment area and it was tuition-free. The Diocese paid the students’ way…a full ride. Competition was fierce because a free Catholic HS education was a gift from God to a working class family. Anton makes the cut along with a classmate named Paul Murphy. Paul Murphy was very, very smart, very, very quiet but most of all very, very tall! Paul was at least 6′ 4″ tall in 1955 and would eventually top out at 6’8″ or 6’9″ in college. I sat in the same classroom and had the same recess and lunch break with Paul for eight years and never saw a ball in his hands. The day he walks into St. Michael’s the basketball coach drooled and turned Paul into a pretty good player. He lettered every year in HS and also played four years of hoops for Columbia. Hey…ya never know!

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