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.