From the third grade to the seventh, I played basketball for Holy Name.  When I was in the sixth grade I was on the Bantam ‘A’ boys team.  My coach was the late Joe “Fonz” Farrell.

On a cold Saturday morning in January we played a game out in Bay Ridge at OLA (Our Lady of Angels).  We met as a team up at the schoolyard and jumped in cars driven by the parents.  Car pooling was popular back in the day.


After the game, a HN win I might add, my teammate John Godfrey and I had two basketball games later in the day for Ty Cobbs.  The games were scheduled at New Utrecht High School.

We played for two different teams during the winter.  Danny Piselli, our former coach from the previous year at Holy Name had put together a team and played in the Utrecht League. Godfrey and I were a year younger than everyone else on the team.

Neither of us had any money for car fare.  At the RR train station, there was a cop standing at the token booth so we couldn’t rush the gate.

We were screwed.

Godfrey and I had to walk to New Utrecht.

Keep in mind we were twelve years old and in the sixth grade.

OLA’s gym was on 73rd street and 4th avenue.

Utrecht’s gym was on 80th street and 16th avenue.

Not too far right?

It wasn’t so much the distance, or that we were so young, or the weather;  nope, it was our dedication to the game of basketball that we were willing to walk and not rely on a ride when, after the game at OLA we could have jumped back in someone’s car and returned home.

One nugget about New Utrecht; The front and rear views of the school building were shown in opening scenes of “Welcome Back Kotter,” which featured Utrecht alum Gabe Kaplan.  And, if you look close, in the closing credits, you see random shots of the streets of Brooklyn and a girl wearing a Ty Cobbs cheerleader jacket.



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8 Responses to DRIVE? LOL…

  1. Glenn Thomas says:

    I loved those days of playing on both Holy Name and for Ty Cobb’s. I remember Danny Piselli teaching some guys a lesson by walking back to the neighborhood from New Utrecht HS. New Utrecht High School is located on 79th Street and 16th Avenue. That’s a real long walk back to Windsor Terrace. I was glad that I had money for the train that day and didn’t have to walk it.. LOL.

  2. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    That walk seems reasonable now..but when I was younger, walking to Holy Name from my house on 13th bet 7th and 8th seemed like a looooonnnnng walk, lol…

  3. jim casey says:

    your story reminds me of the times that our 8th grade grammar team in 1958-59 had to shovel the snow off the schoolyard courts in order to practice. Our coach, Bro. Duane, was Paul Hornung’s (notre dame, green bay packers)teammate at flaget hs in louisville–he had the photo to prove it.

  4. Glenn Thomas says:

    We also used to shovel the schoolyards in HN and in PS 154 in order to play hoops in the late 70’s. I can remember playing in the cold and cutting the fingers to our gloves half way so that our finger tips could be used to grip the ball. It was amazing how we had to improvise in order to be able to play and work on our games for we had very little or no access to a gymnasium to play.

  5. jimmyvac says:

    I remember walking to Bensonhurst to hang with Eugene Liotta’s cousin. We used to hop a fence and cut through a cemetery.. one day Donny Rice are walking through and we hear barking from a distance, we turn around and there are two big dogs running after us.. I hopped the fence okay, one of the mutts took Donny’s sneaker off.. he spent the whole night like that and walked home.

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