The New York Yankees lead the Minnesota Twins 2-0 in the American League Division Series. Game 3 is Monday night from Minny. It’s the best three out of five.
Joe Lee seen doing cartwheels on the corner of 13th street and 8th avenue.
MLB post-season is here. October is gonna be bananas on the diamond.
This is the reason why I love baseball.
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn we played ‘hardball’ often.
There was a vacant lot on 16th street. Technically you can say Windsor Place too. But I gotta be honest, not once did I ever climb the fence on Windsor. That barbed wire…SMH
Kids from all over the neighborhood showed up.
No one got dropped off by a mini-van; you walked or rode your bike.
Some had gloves, some didn’t. I didn’t.
We had one bat, everyone used it. LOL.
It varied as to how many players were on a team. All depends on how many kids showed up that day.
We chose up sides, last kid picked didn’t run home and cry to mommy.
Last kid in the batting order never sulked. He waited his turn to bat.
No adult pitching to us, and most of all, there was no hitting ‘T’ placed in front of home-plate.
No uniforms. No juice boxes. No trophies.
We competed. There was a winner and a loser. There were lessons to be learned. You learned as a ten year-old to figure things out. You didn’t harp on things . You moved on.
Was he out or was he safe? Argument lasted a few seconds. No instant replay.
Who’s up next?
Good luck to all the Major League teams still alive…enjoy the next few weeks.
A couple of years ago I had the chance to talk with Red Slavin about the disturbing incident back in June of 1977.
Whenever I see a brawl in baseball I think back to June of 1977.
Only this wasn’t your typical “Pitcher hitting batter,” dugouts empty-type fight.
On a warm sunny day at the Parade Grounds, there was a catholic youth organization baseball going on; a huge fight broke out between Holy Name and St. Finbar’s.
The players were 15 and 16 years old.
The Parade Grounds was the place to be. I witnessed so many great ball players come through there. I was lucky enough to play a few games on those fields when I was a kid.
Holy Name was handling St. Finbar’s pretty easy on this day. The coach for Holy Name was Joe Mussa (he later became Brother Joe). Holy Name had only lost one game the entire season. By the way, Mussa was my favorite teacher at H.N.S. – I had him in the 5th grade.
Holy Name’s team consisted of neighborhood guys; Kevin Maloney, Timmy Hardy, Gonzo Gonzalez, Donald Barbieri, Jose Bolono, Tommy Parker, Chris Bullock, Jody Stanizewski and Robert Price. I’m sure I’m leaving a few out.
From behind the chain-linked fence a fan from Holy Name began ribbing the Finbar players for their effort. At the conclusion of the game, some of the Finbar players had heard enough. They grabbed the antagonistic fan and began beating him up.
Seeing the fan getting attacked by the team, a Holy Name player ran over to help his friend. It’s what you did when you saw a friend getting beat up by a group.
A St. Finbar player wound up with a broken nose in the melee.
It was a mess.
One week later it got worse.
The scene was Dyker Field in Bensonhurst. Not too far from St. Finbar’s.
Only the opponent this day wasn’t Finbar’s, it was St. Bernadette.
During the course of the game tons of kids were making their way from the Golf Course towards the baseball field. They proceeded to walk through the left field fence. I don’t think they were here to watch the game. They had revenge on their mind.
Standing in the outfield, they resembled the “Baseball Fury” from the 1980’s film, “The Warriors.” You know, the wimps;
“I’ll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a Popsicle,” My boy Ajax said.
Ajax was played by James Remar, a fine actor.
These clowns were at the game for the big payback.
The rowdy group of teens began shouting at the lonely left fielder for Holy Name.
Next thing you know they are going after him.
The entire Holy Name team seeing this, took off towards the outfield to try and help their teammate.
It was no use, Holy Name was outnumbered.
At one point, the rowdy group trapped Holy Name’s team in the dugout. After lots of yelling and screaming, they began throwing things at the scared baseball team.
“One guy took my cap so I went after him,” said Red Slavin.
The red-headed ninth avenue resident was a member of the team and within minutes was hit over the head with a baseball bat after retrieving his cap.
Red wasn’t about to let someone snatch his cap. A Holy Name baseball cap was Gold…
“I felt my left arm going crazy, then I blacked out.” He said.
Red was having a seizure.
An ambulance arrived and took him to Kings County hospital.
“I wasn’t hurt or anything. No pain, no headache.” Slavin admits.
Holy Name kids were built tough!
Also in the melee, Gonzo was whacked over the head with a bat. Luckily he had a helmet on. As a memento of that day ‘G’ still has the cracked helmet.
After the x-rays Red Slavin was diagnosed with a depressed skull fracture. He spent three days in the hospital.
Upon his discharge from the hospital Slavin went up to Bishop Ford to clean out his locker; the semester was over. Red had just completed his Freshman year. Brother Sullivan walked by and expected Slavin to take his History final.
“Brother, I have a 100 percent in History and I just spent three days in the hospital. Do I really have to take it?” Slavin pleaded.
Hearing this, Sullivan explained;
“Unless you want to attend summer school, yes, you have to take it.”
Slavin did as he was told and took the final. And being the outstanding student, Slavin aced it.
Back in the day teachers didn’t take any shit from the students.
I often hear people talk about “specializing” in a certain sport.There’s personal trainers and travel teams to help with the process.
I also hear people mention that kids should play multiple sports. The all-around athlete. Use other muscles. Cut down on overuse of a certain muscle.
It’s all a matter of opinion.
From my perspective, as a kid (Under 16) kids should play as many sports as they can during the year. I firmly believe that when an athlete begins their junior year in high school they should start thinking about if they want to play a sport in college. If they feel they have the talent, maybe they should start concentrating on that particular sport?
As a kid, do it all. Play Baseball, Basketball and Football for sure. Run Track and Cross-Country. Play soccer. Golf, swim…do as much as you can.
Late in the summer of 1976 George Brett became my hero.
Brett was the first athlete I admired. Nothing was more important than GB5. He became my role model.
I was 12 years old at the time living in Brooklyn, New York. Brett was playing for the Kansas City Royals.
How can I forget that day?
I had just watched the Royals on a Saturday afternoon in September on NBC’s Game of the Week. I was in Timboo’s Bar down on fifth avenue. My father would bring me there every so often on Saturday afternoons. I know, crazy, right?
Naturally I began following and rooting for Kansas City. I knew nothing about them but I made sure to learn as much as possible. Plus this enabled me to argue with the Yankee fans.
At the time, neither the Mets or Yankees did anything for me.
I loved the way Brett played. Loved his batting stance. Loved how hard he played.
Besides Brett there was Amos Otis, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae, Frank White, UL Washington, Willie Mays Aikens, Freddie Patek, John Mayberry, Al Cowens, Dan Quisenberry, Dennis Leonard, Larry Gura, Paul Splitorff, Clint Hurdle, Darrell Porter, Buck Martinez, John Wathan and many more Royals I followed.
For the next three years the Royals faced the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. All three years the Royals lost. Unreal man, unreal. I was heartbroken each and every October.
It hurt, really hurt.
Guys from the neighborhood gave me shit each year. They were breaking my balls left and right. It got so bad once I refused to come out for like three straight days.
You don’t really understand how much I loved Brett. He was my fucking idol…
I bought a Starter jacket in Gerry Cosby’s for close to two-hundred dollars. I had two jersey’s, home and away with number five on the back. I had a Royals cap. A t-shirt and tons of baseball cards.
Damn I wish I had kept them.
Things got so crazy one year I called long distance to the Royals front office and ordered a yearbook. I went to the post office, bought a money order and sent it. My mother ripped my ass after she saw the phone bill. “WHO THE FUCK IS CALLING MISSOURI?” She screamed at us while we sat at the dinner table.
Baseball Digest, which came out every month helped me learn more about the team I would follow for the next few years.
I would also purchase the Sporting News each week. A yearly book that came out on the newsstands, ‘Who’s Who in Baseball’ was my textbook throughout the season.
Game five of the 1976 ALCS at Yankee Stadium was tied at six going to the bottom of the ninth. Right before midnight Chris Chambliss, Yankees first-baseman blasted a walk-off-homer against Royals relief pitcher Mark Littell. It was the first pitch too. (Brett had tied the game at six with a three-run homer in the top of the 8th) Yankee fans stormed the field. Why don’t baseball fans storm the field anymore?
After the game I cried.
My friend Jimmy Cullen was at the game.
In game three of the 1978 ALCS at Yankee Stadium Brett hit three straight homers off Catfish Hunter. That was cool but the Royals lost the game 6-5.
During the day I would go over to Manhattan and hang out in the hotel lobby where the Royals stayed just to get autographs. Sometimes security would realize I wasn’t a guest so they would toss me out.
I’d hang around outside on 42nd street with other autographs seekers waiting for the Royals.
For some strange reason Willie Wilson never signed for us.
Royals skipper Whitey Herzog was cool. He once stopped to sign and stepped on my foot accidentally. “Good thing I didn’t have my spikes on,” he said to me as we both got a laugh.
Darrell Porter was cool. I once saw Amos Otis smoking a cigarette outside the hotel. Frank White was super cool. And it was cool seeing Royals shortstop UL Washington’s tooth pick close up.
The day I got my idol to sign I was the happiest person in the world. I was nervous but he did it. On an index card. Not sure what ever happened to that card.
It was rare that I missed a Royals-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. I was even at the infamous pine tar game. And the continuation game.
Me and my boy Joe Lee would take the F and D trains and get to the game early for B.P.
It wasn’t until 1980 that the Royals got their revenge beating the Yankees three games to zero.
Who could forget Brett’s three-run homer in Yankee Stadium in the top of the 7th off Goose Gossage to seal the deal?
The ball off of Brett’s bat was put in the upper deck.
I stayed a Brett fan until he retired in 1993. My love for the Royals faded. But make no mistake, there wasn’t a bigger Royals fan in New York than me.
Fast forward 22 years and now the Royals are in the World Series against the New York Mets. Being from New York and having many friends who are Mets fans I have to root for the Metropolitans.
Sure the Royals are a great story but like Tug McGraw once said, “Ya Gotta Believe!”
Game one is Tuesday night. Live from Kansas City.
LET’S GO METS!
The New York Mets defeated the Chicago Cubs last night 4-2. The Mets now lead the best of seven series 2-0.
The series now moves to Chicago.
“You see Murphy last night?” Jimmy asked Steve while both teens stood on the corner of Prospect Avenue, right outside Holy Name Church.
“Yeah man, he’s hot!” Steve answered sipping on a coffee, light and sweet from Henry’s deli.
“HOT? He’s homered off Arrieta, Lester, Greinke, and Kershaw this postseason!” Jimmy shouted.
The Mets second baseman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first last night to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
“He’s a free-agent, there’s talk of the Mets not signing him,” Jimmy explained while he glanced at the New York Post.
“Good, then he should jump on the train and head to the Bronx, the Yankees can use him.” Steve said as he took off down Prospect Avenue to the schoolyard.
“Where ya going?” Jimmy shouted.
Steve kept walking, munching on his buttered roll ignoring Jimmy.
Dem Bums beat the Mets last night 3-1.
The series is now tied at two games.
Both teams hopped on the plane out of LAG and headed back to the left coast.
LA’s ace Clayton Kershaw was nasty as can be on the mound last night. He held the Mets to three hits over seven innings.
Remember New York smashed 13 hits the night before in game three? Their bats went cold last night.
Kershaw came into last night’s game with a career 1-6 record in the post season.
By the way, Kershaw and Detroit Lions Quarterback Matt Stafford were classmates at Highland Park high school in Texas.
Game five is scheduled for Thursday night.
LET’S GO METS!!!
The Yankees blasted the Mets last night 11-2.
The Bronx Bombers now trail the first place Blue Jays by 2 1/2 games.
Beginning tonight North of the border the Jays and Yankees will play three straight nights.
ESPN will have two of the games televised.
Matt Harvey was amazing last night on the hill for the Mets fanning seven over five innings. Harvey allowed one hit. Matter of fact, Tom Seaver would be proud of this. Only four of the 18 Yankees he faced managed to hit the ball out of the infield.
But then guess what?
Harvey was taken out of the game.
That 180 innings thing.
Whatever happened to the days when the relief pitcher would go from the bullpen to the mound riding shotgun in the bullpen buggy? And who had that gig driving the pitchers in?
As soon as Harvey was removed by Mets manager Terry Collins, the Yankees took advantage of two Mets errors to erupt for five runs in the sixth inning against reliever Hansel Robles, who also allowed a two-run double to Carlos Beltran and a three-run homer to Dustin Ackley.
Let the pigeons loose.
It’s time to party.
“[Harvey] was rolling pretty good,” Ackley said. “We couldn’t really string anything together and yeah, when he did come out, we got some guys on base. We knew that was a good chance to really make something happen.”
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi was ejected in the second inning for arguing with the third base umpire who in my eyes, started it by screaming into the Mets dugout.
ESPN was all over it.
“More than anything, I want to be out there,” Harvey said. “The way things were going, tight game, the last thing I want to do is come out. I’m kind of kicking myself for having some long innings and getting the pitch count up.”
Yankees take the subway series.
Pack up the car. For the Yankees it’s on to Toronto for a huge showdown with the Jays.
The Mets had their National League East lead cut to six games over the Nationals, who defeated Miami on Sunday and will come to Citi Field in less than two weeks for the season’s final three games.
Saw Carmine this morning sipping a light and sweet coffee from Pynn’s deli on the avenue. He was ticked.
A day ago I received some sad news.
J.J. Cortese passed away last Friday.
Cortese started the Park Slope Baseball League way back in the late 1960’s.
He was the president for decades.
There’s a field dedicated to him up in the diamonds in Prospect Park.
J.J. was a good guy. Carl Manco of Sport Prospect e-mailed;
“I never saw him get angry. He owned an ‘old school’ grocery store on 7th avenue between 7th and 8th streets for about 60 years.”
Cortese laid the foundation for what is now the Prospect Park Baseball Association.
The man who sat outside on his folding chair was big on giving nicknames to young baseball players. He called Tommy Manco ‘Wheels’– because he was slow. If you called someone wheels today because they were slow you would probably get fired.
Carl also told me Cortese might have been the one who gave Barry Rohrssen the nickname, “Barry Arms.”
RIP Mr. Baseball