HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND

I was cleaning up some e-mails and came across a blog entry from Al McNeil’s outstanding blog, “Shouts from the Stoop.” Here’s a tribute composed by Al about his friend Darryl Wheatley.  I thought this needed to be shared with our readers.

“The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.” – Faulkner

True story I will remember until I am senile.

It is the summer of 1979. The year the Pirates won the World Series.  I am 13, Darryl Wheatley is 17. We play a game of stick ball, pitching in, upstairs in John Jay schoolyard.

Wheatley is up first. He decides that for each at bat, he will be a Pittsburgh Pirate, and as such, will mimic that Pirate’s batting stance. He proceeds to hit line drive after line drive. He is batting lefty as Willie Stargell; mimicking Stargell’s exaggerated windmill warm up swings. He is Dave Parker. He is Al Oliver. He goes through the whole goddamn lineup batting lefty, batting righty, and using a different stance for each at bat.

IMG_1951

Since I can only get to bat when Wheatley makes an out, I grow very frustrated. The guy just keeps lashing line drives. Finally, I tell him I am going to move up several feet and pitch from a closer spot.

Darryl tells me it is OK for me to move up and pitch to him; but he had to warn me: when guys move the pitching mound up a few feet, he had been known to hit a line drive back thru the box directly into the guy’s privates.

I swear to Christ, the very next pitch, no sooner than I let it go, it was rocketed back at me, like something launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The ball hit by Wheatley was a missile that landed at the speed of light right at my nut sack.

I screamed in pain; I looked at Wheatley, he was on the ground shaking with laughter.

To me, announcing that you are going to hit a guy in the nuts with a line drive and then making it come true on the next pitch is more impressive than Babe Ruth’s called shot.

Only in John Jay Schoolyard, and only by Darryl Wheatley.

Al and Darryl may not have been from our neighborhood, but they were two guys that would have fit in very well with us.

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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12 Responses to HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND

  1. Kevin Mahoney says:

    I played basketball on a team with Darryl Wheatley at the Flatbush YMCA in the late ’80’s, he was an amazing player. I heard he had a nice career at John Jay. I believe he passed away a few years ago, way too young
    .

  2. jimmyvac says:

    There is something about a guy taking one in the jewels that is hilarious. Some guy was warming me before a baseball game and the ball short hopped under his glove and got him good..He crawled around on all 4s making all kinds of moaning sounds… I tried to ask him if he was ok but I was crying laughing too hard… finally he rolled on his back and screamed…. next day I asked him to warm me up and he just walked away cursing…. good times… Steven, weren’t you 15 in 1979?

  3. Fr. Peter says:

    If there was an umpire Darryl would have been tossed out of the game for being a Ball Breaker

  4. Jack Kelly says:

    Well Father, Since it’s getting nearer to the festive Holiday Season I prefer saying Darryl would’ve been kicked out of the game for being a ‘Nut Cracker’ 🙂

  5. JB says:

    Sorry, Nothing to do with this post.. Which was a very good post.. Did anyone see this happening?? http://improveverywhere.com/2013/11/05/jurassic-park-in-real-life-movies-in-real-life-episode-6/ And right where that group of rowdy kids were a few months back…

  6. Darryl Wheatley was my brother. It was awesome finding the original blog and the comments above. The amazing thing about my brother was he was gifted in any sport he played. He also like to talk a lot of mess while he played too. Some may have called him cocky but when you’re that good… This made my day and I’ll share it with our Mom. It’s nice to know Darryl’s school yard legacy lives on.

    Darlene Wheatley

    P.S. We were born and raised on 4th street between 7th & 8th avenues. Right across the street from John Jay!

    • Steve says:

      Hi Darlene,

      Thanks for checking in. For those that knew “D” we knew he wasn’t cocky. He was a good dude.

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