Throw-Back Thursday is a pretty popular theme on social media. People like to post old school pictures and apply the tag, #TBT. Here at Container Diaries, it’s always “throw-back” day. You know that!
This morning while sipping some hot coffee and reading the newspaper I thought of one of my favorite people of all-time.
It wasn’t often that you shared your thoughts about someone, especially publicly. Unless you didn’t like someone, you made it clear to them.
This guy I am about to write about didn’t live in the neighborhood but he was close. Third street between 7th and 8th avenues to be exact.
St.Saviour’s guy. But we never held that against him. I almost went to Saviour’s. We lived on 10th street.
I am talking about Chris Logan. The guy that everyone called, “Tiffer” played basketball for Bishop Ford. He was 6’8″ and one of the best players I recall watching during the 80’s.
He’s also one of my favorite people of all-time.
This guy is the salt of the earth. I mean it.
They don’t come any better. Matter of fact, they don’t make ’em like this anymore.
Two months ago on my visit back to Brooklyn I had the chance to catch up with Chris.
He has not changed.
He’s the same as he was back in the day.
I recall as a teen, the “lost days” as I like to call them I had just finished playing ball at East 5th street park. I must have been 16 or maybe 17? As I was about to exit the park and walk up the hill back to the neighborhood I heard someone shout;
“YO RED, YOU WANT A RIDE?”
I looked over my left shoulder and Chris Logan was getting into his car. I didn’t have my bike at the time so getting a lift up the hill was a welcomed thought. I just finished playing ball and I was dead-tired.
Without hesitating I walked towards the car and hopped in the front seat.
To be able to ride with Chris was an amazing opportunity. I had watched Chris play ball at Ford and now he was playing ball at Holy Cross College.
He was a guy a teenager could look up to; he was the perfect example of how to live your life. Great role model. Older guys don’t do that anymore. It’s a “Me” society now.
Chris Logan played the game the right way.
He lived the right way too.
He cared about people. Still does to this day.
I never heard anyone say anything bad about the guy.
We rode up the hill and Chris stopped the car outside Bishop Ford. We parked on ninth avenue. Keep in mind it was the middle of the summer. School was out. Somehow we got in the locked-down building and went straight to the gym.
I wasn’t sure why we were there. I lived a few blocks away, I felt like leaving and going home to sleep.
Glad I stayed.
As we entered the hot gym Chris threw his car keys down on a plastic chair and like Houdini, he appeared with a basketball. Chris got some shots up while I rebounded and made passes back to him for the next 30 minutes.
After some shooting we went into the weight room and lifted for 30 more minutes.
Chris had just finished playing ball at the park and now he was putting in extra work. It’s what the great players do. They do a little extra. He was a D-1 college basketball player, not satisfied with his current state. He wanted to get better. I’m not sure if kids today subscribe to this theory?
The hour I spent with the guy everyone knows as “Tiffer” was 60 minutes that I treasured for the rest of my life. I never forgot what he did for this low self-esteem teenager. He lifted me up. That’s what the great ones do.
If the world had more Chris Logan’s, it would be a much better place. Especially the game of basketball.
I recall a hot Saturday afternoon right around that time I rode my bike to Manhattan Beach and watched Chris play and his team stayed on the court all day.
The guy was and still is a winner.
Chris has a lovely family and is living in New Jersey. His son looks like he’s going to be some ball player.
While in Brooklyn last weekend, I was informed of a young lady by the name of Jill Conroy. Jill attended Bishop Ford and hails from down by East 5th street.
Maybe some of our readers are familiar with the Conroy family?
Jill plays college basketball at Holy Family. While she attended Bishop Ford, she played on the girls basketball team; Dennis Nolan was her coach.
And how about Bobby Valentine? Unreal what Bobby did.
Take a few minutes and check out this awesome story via ESPN.
Outstanding story via the New York Times on the St. Francis College men’s basketball team.
Bishop Ford alum Glenn Braica is doing a great job as head coach at his alma mater.
As a young boy, it was there at 180 Remsen street, down in Brooklyn Heights where I got my first taste of college basketball.
We would go see Gerard Trapp and Edgar De La Rosa play for SFC and do work!
It’s a Wednesday night. Billy and Jimmy are hanging out in Farrell’s. Both guys just got off work. Billy’s an ironworker working on a building on Madison and forty-third over in midtown. Jimmy’s a cop who works at the 7th Precinct in the lower east side. It’s a little after six.
“You see 30 for 30 last night on ESPN?” Jimmy asks Billy as he takes a sip from his glass of beer.
“Nah, it came on too late, I gotta get up at four in the mornin’,” Billy answers as he looks up at the TV which is showing highlights from game two of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants.
“You missed a good one,” Jimmy muttered.
Billy takes a sip of his beer.
“They’ll show it again, ESPN is always showing those shows over and over,” Billy counters.
Both men visit Farrell’s every night after work to get together, talk sports and talk about life.
“Knicks looked good last night,” Billy mentions as he gulps down the rest of his beer.
“Duffer, gimme another,” Billy shouts.
Duffer is behind the stick tonight, he’s been working at Farrell’s for over 30 years. He’s a local guy and it must be noted, one of the better guys in the neighborhood. He’s also a retired fireman.
“Not sure how the triangle offense is gonna work,” Jimmy added.
“Well, if Carmelo buys-in to the team philosophy, anything is possible” Billy offered. “Not to mention he has to play defense and stop being a ball hog.”
The Knicks have not won a championship in 41 years. They have a new coach, a new offense and Phil Jackson is back at thirty-third and seventh running the show.
“How’s your kid like her new school?” Jimmy asks.
“She’s coping, but she’s bummed that Ford closed.”
Bishop Ford closed it’s doors this past June forcing many families to look for another school.
“It’s a shame, Ford was the place you went after you graduated from Holy Name,” Jimmy says as Duffer places another glass of beer in front of him and pulls some money off the bar.
“Yeah, that sucks,” Billy says. “But it doesn’t matter to me, I went to Jay, and my daughter loves Saviour’s.”
Saint Saviour’s is an all-girls high school down on sixth street. Many girls from the neighborhood go there.
The bar begins to fill up. Duffer is joined by another bartender, he’s new on the job, Duffer will be training him tonight.
“I miss the Knicks teams of the seventies,” Jimmy admitted.
“Yeah me too,” Billy agrees.
“They played the right way. Frazier, Bradley and Willis.” Jimmy added.
“Don’t forget their coach, Red Holzman,” Billy shouts. “HIT THE OPEN MAN and SEE THE BALL!”
Both men laugh and reach for their glasses and take a gulp of beer.
“Just like our coaches at Holy Name taught us,” Jimmy says as he lets out a burp.
“I miss the days of waking up on Saturday morning, running to the yard and playing three-on-three all day.” Billy says. “Kids don’t play in the yard anymore.”
Both men polish off another glass of beer.
“We’ll never see another team like the Knicks from nineteen seventy-three,” Jimmy says.
“No doubt about that,” says Billy. “And with that, I gotta get outta here Jimmy, my old lady wants to go down to Snooky’s and see some friends.”
Snooky’s is a bar-restaurant on seventh avenue.
“Don’t get into any fights with the seventh avenue boys,” Jimmy reminds his friend.
Billy grabs his money off the bar, throws a ten down and shouts, “YO DUFFER, GIMME A CONTAINER TO GO AND GIVE JIMMY A DRINK!”
Duffer heads to the stick, fills a container and swipes the ten off the bar. Billy’s out the side door, headed down sixteenth street on his way home.
Jimmy looks up at the television. Glances at all the people in the bar and downs his glass of beer.
“Duffer, gimme a shot of Johnny Walker.”
Friday morning, May 2
Someone once said, “an alarm clock is not an alarm clock, it’s an opportunity clock…”
Usually when you’re on a vacation you sleep in, right?
Well not if you are back in your old Brooklyn neighborhood.
I’m up with the birds and the sun. In the shower, dressed and out the door.
I have an opportunity to check in with some old friends and make some new ones.
Making my way up to the Avenue I see people walking along the Parkside. Health conscious for sure.
I also see people rushing to work, trying to catch the early morning train to Manhattan.
Instead of stopping at Connecticut Muffin I walk to the Windsor Cafe for the best scrambled eggs and ham. But first I grab a newspaper.
Three guys working in the cafe, George, Nick and Gus are three of the coolest people I have met on this trip. These guys run the show, they make things happen at a high rate. Might be the first time I have ever sat at the counter in a diner.
Next stop is Terrace Bagels for a bagel and coffee but the joint is packed; all the tables are taken. I head down to Connecticut Muffin and grab a latte.
Camping out for an hour, sipping on my latte I don’t recognize one single person. I’m so pissed I forgot my MacBook Pro back home. I could have had these diary entries up to the minute.
Time to go see my guy Carl down at Sport Prospect on seventh avenue. But first I stop off at the Armory on 8th avenue. They have done a great job with this place; it’s a basketball court and they have a nice running track.
Now it’s time to hop on the train and head to Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.
I had thoughts of walking but I had to meet someone up at Bishop Ford at two. Can’t be late.
Jumping on the F-train one stop to 4th avenue where I switch for the Manhattan-bound R-train for two stops.
I come out of the station and I’m overwhelmed by the Barclays Center. Boy has this area changed.
Flatbush and Atlantic.
You know the place, where the big clock is. Better known as the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.
“Red, you remember back in the day you needed to carry a pistol around here?” my boy Johnny P. reminds me.
Sssshhhhhhhh…Don’t mention any stories from back in the day.
It’s game-day; tonight the Brooklyn Nets play the Toronto Raptors in game 6 of the NBA playoffs. You remember the Nets, right? They used to be in Jersey. But don’t forget, at one time they were out on the Island; Strong Island for the Public Enemy fans.
This place is amazing. I walk around a bit and grab a Starbucks in the lobby. Around the corner on Dean Street I see the employee entrance and maybe I’ll see J-Kidd coming in?
Across the street there are a few apartment buildings. It must be mint living across the street from an NBA arena.
Never got the chance to go in Barclays Center but some day I will check out a game.
I did make a pit stop in their gift shop. It was empty. Nice merch out on the floor but a little overpriced for me. Guy on the floor was a bit chatty and friendly; said he graduated from Xaverian out in Bay Ridge.
I head back to the neighborhood taking fifth avenue all the way to ninth street where I hop on the B75…oops, I mean the B61. No more 75.
As we all know, Ford is closing its doors in June. As I get off the bus and cross the avenue there’s a big sign on the black picket fence. Someone took a bed-sheet, hung it on the fence and used a black Sharpie:
SAVE BISHOP FORD.
I head down the block and meet up with Danny Piselli. Danny was my coach way back in the day at Holy Name and he also gave me my first high school coaching job. He was the JV coach and brought me in as his assistant. I had a ball.
Hey Dan, I took mental notes of that season; I use a couple of your drills with my team, thanks.
We chat about old times and he fills me in on the situation at Ford.
Time to split, head back to the apartment and get ready for the Old Timers dinner later tonight out in Bensonhurst.
Looking forward to seeing a lot of good, basketball people.
Bishop Ford High School is closing its doors in June. No doubt it’s a sad day at 500 19th street. Growing up in the neighborhood and having many friends attend Ford, I have so many memories of the Falcons. Let me take you back 34 years ago…
On a warm Friday afternoon in May, I was shooting all alone in my paved paradise; the boys schoolyard at Holy Name.
It was a little after three. Students from Bishop Ford were making their way to the F-train down on Windsor Place. Their route was simple. Exit the school up on nineteenth street, stroll a few short blocks across ninth avenue, hang a right at Joe’s Pizza down Prospect Avenue and make a quick left on Howard Place.
On their way down Howard they would pass the yard. I had seen them for years. Most would be walking pretty fast to catch their train. Some would walk slow and watch us play ball. I would see some kids smoking cigarettes and at times catch a boy and girl holding hands. The girls were pretty.
At times I was envious. Jealous too. I always wanted to go to Ford. Many of my friends attended the catholic school up by the cemetery.
The Ford kids had a habit of breaking balls.
“GET A JOB YA BUM”! I heard a kid shout.
I stood there motionless on the middle court. The kid kept walking but I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was a wise-ass punk.
I was hurt inside, embarrassed and ashamed. I wanted to run out and rip this kid’s fucking heart out. The only problem was I was alone and he was with a bunch of his classmates who were all laughing.
I let it go but deep down, it was building up inside of me. “It” was the rage.
“Hey man, you ever go to school,” another kid called out. I glanced up from my dribbling drill.
Boy, these kids love to fuck with me, I thought to myself.
This was actually the first time I had ever heard any comments from them.
Ignoring the jerk I dribbled through my legs, crossed over, and stutter stepped like Earl Monroe, down to the other end of the court against the church wall pulling up for a mid-range jump shot.
“Yeah man, you’re always here!” another kid barked.
Now I was pissed.
This was my yard. Of course I was here all the time.
I felt like going out there and fighting them but they were in large groups. On other days in the past some of them would stare at me and call out, “nice shot!” after I made a jumper. The girls would be watching too. When I’d catch one of them out of the corner of my eye I would try to show off by going behind my back with the dribble, just like Walt Frazier avoiding a defender.
One afternoon a tall white kid walked into the yard. He was wearing black slacks, a dark dress shirt and black shoes that were shiny and pointy. We called them, “cockroach killers.”
This kid must have been about six-foot-five. He had three expensive, looking gold chains hanging from his neck. He resembled a football player, but Ford didn’t have a football team.
“Hey can I take a few shots with you?” he asked.
“Yeah sure,” I replied, as I threw him a crisp, two-handed chest pass.
“Nice shoes.” I uttered to him. He didn’t hear me, he was too excited about having the ball in his hands.
I watched him as he shot the ball from twenty feet away and missed everything.
“Airball!” came a cry from outside the fence.
A bunch of kids paused to watch him.
There they go breaking balls again.
I chased the ball down and threw it back to the tall kid. He caught it and placed it down on the concrete. Looking at me he said, “Here we go.”
He we go? I thought to myself? This kid was clearly an inside player, he had no right stepping out and trying to make a long jump shot.
As he rolled up his sleeves he looked like someone who was about to have a fist fight. That’s what the tough guys did in the old days.
“Here we go,” he proclaimed.
Picking up the ball he attempted another shot from the same distance.
As the ball was on it’s way to the netless rim; another comment came from the peanut gallery.
“Hey Tony, give it up man, you suck!”
The ball sailed through the air and ended up being another airball.
It didn’t hit a thing.
No rim or backboard. It just landed on the ground and bounced away.
This kid sucks, I thought to myself. I chased the ball down again and listened to some more kids ridicule him.
“Tony, you suck man, that kid will school you!”
“Yeah Tony, go home and study!” another kid screamed. They all laughed.
I looked at Tony and shrugged my shoulders.
“Later for them man, they probably suck anyway.” I pointed out to him.
Tony looked at me and asked, “You wanna play one on one?”
This kid was kidding, right? I thought to myself. How the fuck was he going to guard me wearing shoes?
I started dribbling the ball between my legs and said “your ball first.”
I zipped another crisp chest pass to him catching him by surprise as he fumbled the ball.
Tony took the ball out first and couldn’t buy a basket for the next five minutes. I scored with ease every time I touched the ball. I took it right by the uncoordinated kid. His first problem was trying to shoot from deep. I was waiting for him to back me down into the post. He had me by at least a hundred pounds.
When I had the ball and he tried to get close to me on defense, I would back him up with a few pump fakes and jab steps, and launch my jumper. A crowd had gathered outside the fence, and after enough of taking it to him, the tall fella called it quits.
Tony was like a defeated boxer in the ring throwing in the towel, he had enough.
“Hey man, you’re good, what school you go to?” He asked me.
I looked at the kid, thought about the question and tossed up a long jumper that went straight though the rim.
“I go to Jay.”
“What year you in?” He asked
“Wow! You’re fuckin’ good, you play varsity?”
I chased the ball down and didn’t answer him.
“I gotta get home, take care. It was nice playing with you,” he said.
The kid extended his hand. He told me he was the center on the freshmen team at Ford.
“Nice meeting you,” I answered.
Tony took off out of the yard and down Howard Place.
I continued to shoot…alone.
When I stepped out of my apartment on Windsor and ninth all one had to do was turn right and walk four short blocks to Bishop Ford High School.
Despite not being a student at Ford I spent a lot of time at 500 Nineteenth Street.
On Monday, Ford announced they are shutting it down for good in June.
I received the news via text message on Monday afternoon.
“FORD IS CLOSING IN JUNE!”
I had to look twice at my i-phone.
Bishop Ford is closing?
Back in 1977 when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Name it was time to take the co-op. They had you select four high schools that you had an interest in attending. Did I ever tell you I was petrified when it was time to take a test? My palms were moist, I had butterflies in my stomach and I would gag. In the sixth grade I once faked sick at home just to avoid a test.
3-Christ the King
The year before, after watching the Panthers play in the King tournament at St. Thomas my mind was made up where I wanted to attend high school (my tenure at Kareem’s alma mater lasted two days).
I’m not sure why I wrote LaSalle down and I think I filled in Christ the King because I had watched their basketball team play in the summer league at Holy Name. Little did I realize how far away the school was and what kind of commute awaited me. F-train to Delancey and switch for the M?
Sitting there I thought to myself, “I’ll complete the list with Ford.”
How stupid was I?
At that time my good friend Glen Thomas was a freshman at Ford. Two classmates at Holy Name, John Godfrey and Mary Kawas put down Ford and would soon be enrolled. It would have been cool meeting up with Mary and Johnny G on the corner of Windsor and ninth and walking to school with them every morning.
How stupid was I?
Why not attend high school with my friends?
As a young boy I would go up to Ford to watch the Falcons basketball team play as much as possible. Neighborhood guys like Danny Piselli, Jimmy Rauthier, Charlie Alberti, Willie Lanzisera, Edgar Dela-Rosa, Joe Santos, Artie Lee, the Ferro’s, Brian Lang and Andy Purdy all wore the red and black.
There was nothing like a Friday night game against Xaverian; the gym would be packed. I would sit way up at the top of the bleachers against the wall on the Ford side of course and watch all the action. Besides the great games between two very good teams was the passion and spirit felt throughout the gym. The student sections from both schools were always hyped up.
“SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP, SINK THE SHIP!”
“EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD, EAT THE BIRD!”
I know, I know, different chants back in the 70’s compared to what we hear today.
(Container Diaries shout out to Brian Keating of sixteenth street who ran the point for the Clippers.)
Back in the early 70’s the Los Angeles Lakers held a practice at Ford between championship games with the Knicks and Jo-Jo White filmed a commercial for Pro-Keds.
It’s hard not to think of basketball when I hear about Bishop Ford. If I had to do it all over again, I would have put Ford at the top of my list. I probably would have played for their basketball team and came out all right.
It’s a sad feeling knowing that after June, Bishop Ford will be gone forever.
Like Alice Cooper said in his song, “School’s out forever, school’s out for summer, school’s out completely. No more pencils, no more books…
One of the first mistakes I made in life was not attending Ford after spending eight years at Holy Name.
But I did get the chance to coach basketball for the Falcons in my early 20’s. I started as an assistant under Danny Piselli and was able to coach the Freshmen team.
Through the sport of basketball I was able to meet so many good people from Ford.
Three years ago I blogged about my all-time favorite Falcon basketball players.
The one thing I worry about is the faculty at Ford. I wish them all the luck in the world.