June 1, 2013


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 9:16 am
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It’s June!

Baseball is here.

The Mets swept the Yankees this past week.

While speaking with a friend recently, I was  reminded of a current major league baseball player from around the way. (OK, so he’s not from ninth avenue but he grew up on 11th street and 8th avenue.  Close enough, right?) Charlie Cummings was probably the one guy  from the neighborhood who came close to playing in the major leagues.  I do know he was in the New York Mets farm system and made it to Tidewater.


Adam Ottavino, a pitcher for the Colorado Rockies is 27 years old and attended Berkley-Carroll School.

Click here to read a story from the The Daily News from back in 2010.

“I’ve played in Marine Park, the Parade Grounds, over in Bensonhurst – literally every field,” he said. “Now I get tons of text messages from people saying, ‘Way to represent Brooklyn.'”

Adam played in the Parade Grounds like many others in the past.  The Parade Grounds have had a lot of good ballplayers through the years.  I recall playing down there as a member of Holy Name’s baseball team.  What I recall most was  that we always walked down to the games.



October 28, 2012


Thanks to JFH for this essay on her days growing up in the neighborhood.

Lately, nostalgia has been calling my name and I often find myself surfing the net for any information about my old neighborhood, Park Slope, Brooklyn.

You can imagine my surprise when one day I keyed in Brooklyn and the 50s and the name of the Jokers, which was the gang from my old neighborhood, appeared on several websites.  I excitedly opened one of the sites and couldn’t believe my eyes.  Several photos of the gang members from the Slope, in which Park Slope, Brooklyn was known at the time, were posted.  These pictures were taken by a professional photographer, Bruce Davidson, who had hooked up with a social service agency working with juvenile delinquents of the 50’s, and the Jokers in particular.  It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of euphoria I encountered upon seeing these photos.  To say I was elated would be an understatement.  Memories of my youth bubbled to the surface.

These gang members, who used to fight the Puerto Ricans or anyone else invading their territory, as most sections of Brooklyn were partitioned off according to turf, hung out at the candy store around the corner from the tenement where I had lived.  The photos displayed many of the gang members who were familiar to me:  There’s Joey Douglas who always got in trouble.  There’s Michael Galvin, my girlfriend’s brother.  There’s Cagi with whom I had a crush on as a 12-year-old.  There’s Tony, the only Italian in an Irish neighborhood. I wallowed in the surroundings of my youth depicted in these pictures:  Pictures of Prospect Park.  Pictures of Holy Name of Jesus.  Pictures of Coney Island.  Pictures of a ride that used to come around and I could swear my older brother and sister were on it.  Pictures of the candy store where Helen, the proprietor, used to make the most delicious chocolate egg creams.

As 12-year-olds, my friends and I would call the Jokers at this same candy story pretending we were older in order to talk and make dates. We would arrange to meet them at the bus stop and when the day arrived we would be sitting on our tenement stoop watching them waiting for the bus and making fools of themselves.  Each time a bus came they would kick it when their so-called dates did not appear.  Of course, they did not notice the 12-year-olds sitting next door.

Other memories of the old neighborhood began to emerge.  When I was much younger. I would put on my bathing suit and walk around the corner in my bare feet successfully avoiding broken glass or any other obstacles that might appear on the pavement to cool off under the Johnny pump.  This is what a fire hydrant in Brooklyn was called.  Cannonball, a member of the senior Jokers, would open the Johnny pump in the sweltering heat to the delight of all the little kids in the neighborhood.  His wife was the exact image of Bridget Bardot.

The claim has been made that there are “six degrees of separation” between each person. I truly believe this finding.  After I excitedly told my dear friend about my discovery on the internet, she nonchalantly stated that she has these photos in a book given to her as a present.  The book is called the Brooklyn Gang: Summer 1959.  In my mind, the chances of this happening, especially because of our dissimilar backgrounds, were nil.  

I guess you can also call this Karma.


October 26, 2012


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 7:42 am
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One of my favorite writers of all-time, and a huge inspiration, seventh avenue’s own Pete Hamill has a new book coming out.

Simone Weichselbaum of The New York Daily News takes us on a trip back to Pete’s old stomping grounds where they checked out Pete’s old apartment.

“The Christmas Kid: And Other Brooklyn Stories,” on sale Tuesday, is composed of 36 short tales depicting a bygone era when bloody street fights, heartless murders and torrid love affairs were all part of everyday life on and around the Seventh Avenue strip.

This new book sounds awesome!

Good luck Mr. Hamill


October 22, 2012


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 8:49 pm
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I came across a story this afternoon from CBS Local news on people in Park Slope complaining about too many frozen yogurt shops in the area.

One person wrote in:

“How many frozen yogurt places can Park Slopers handle? What’s this place becoming? Land of designer pizzas and fro-yos? I should seriously consider moving to Carroll Gardens or Clinton Hill…” wrote another commenter.

Would someone really consider moving because of too many yogurt shops?

What would they rather have, empty space?

What’s wrong with yogurt?

Support the local business and stop complaining! If you don’t like yogurt, find something to do with your time instead of whining.



August 31, 2011


I love the history of sports.

Matter of fact, as a non-traditional, undergraduate student at Central Michigan University I scored a 3.5 GPA in my History of Sport class.

The history of basketball is closer to my heart; baseball and football come in at 2nd and 3rd.

Many people from our neighborhood played on the sports teams at John Jay High School located on 7th avenue.  Shoot, some readers of the blog went to the school when it was called, ‘Manuel Training’.

Back in the day John Jay students walked to school, caught the bus or hopped on the train. Some kids even pulled up in front of school in a Car Service!

The red-brick building with safety gates covering the windows is located smack dab in the middle of Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Across the street and up the block from the school you see multi-million-dollar brownstones, celebrity moms pushing expensive strollers and close by is one of the best elementary schools in New York City.

Over the years, John Jay was a school of last resort for transfer students or who were on the verge of dropping out.  It was also a school for students who were considered to be discipline problems and could not or did not get into other schools.

I spent a very short time at Jay. I actually had 2 different stints there.  But I did have some positive experiences during my tenure.  Jay was a tough environment, you had to pass through school security and metal detectors at the doors.  I had classmates from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boreum Hill, Sunset Park, Bed-Stuy and Brownsville.  There was distractions everywhere, hence the nickname, ‘Jungle Jay’. Despite troubled students roaming the halls and hanging on the street corners, the school also produced outstanding students.

The other day my buddy Carl Manco from Sport Prospect mentioned a former basketball player from Jay that went on to play at Fordham University. He called him  a “poor man’s Ernie Grunfeld”. What a great compliment. Knicks fans only remember Ernie towards the end of his career in a Knick uni but the Forest Hills graduate was a great player in college at Tennessee.

Actually, Carl and I discussed this sensational player weeks ago but his name somehow escaped us. You have to realize that Carl and I go way back when it comes to basketball but we were stumped. We reached out to as many people as possible to see if anyone remembered this player who was the main man at Jay during the 1970’s. No one remembered.

Matter of fact he was so good, he was the only player from Jay who was ever named 1st team all-city PSAL.

Thanks to Gerard Trapp for giving up the name or Carl and I would still be searching.

Kevin Fallon was the guy we were thinking of, with some extensive research, we found out he is the first cousin of comedian Jimmy Fallon. The hooping Fallon lived in Sunset Park but he was well-known around the schoolyards of Brooklyn.

When I think of basketball players of the past from the neighborhood who balled at Jay I think of Jackie Ryan, Patty Brynes, Michael Bundrick, John Corrar, Ron Hardy (East 5th street) and yours truly. Yes, this red-headed jump-shooting guard suited up for 7 games as a member of the varsity team.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the coaches at Jay that were also memorable.  The football guys (John Boyle and Vincent Carbonaro) to Pete Coakley, our basketball coach. And of course, Coach Rizzo, who coached the Indians baseball team to the city championship in the early 80’s.

The past should never be forgotten, especially the positive past.


August 9, 2011


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 11:19 am
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Thanks to Container Diaries regular Ken for sending this link from the New York Times on Hugh Carey, former New York Governor who recently passed away at the age of 92.

“Park Slope was, in many instances for us, a campaign headquarters and a fully functioning dormitory with many people coming in and out,” said Donald Carey, 56, a partner at a financial firm in New York called Cornerstone Capital Strategies. “There was a great sense of focus of mission: the keeping-together of the family and moving forward.”

The boys slept in bunk beds, the girls in twin beds. Mrs. Carey put the children on a buddy system, with younger and older siblings responsible for one another. “She was the quiet strength, responsible for everybody’s development and my father’s entrance and success in both politics and government,” Donald Carey said.

A funeral Mass will be Thursday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


December 13, 2010


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 9:10 pm
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Shocking news from the neighborhood early Monday morning.

(From the NY Daily News)

Click here for the Daily News story on the guy who stabbed his parents. Here’s a blurb from the story…

A deranged Brooklyn man fatally stabbed his mother and repeatedly slashed his father’s throat Monday before he threw himself in the path of a subway train, police said.

Ryan Devaney survived his encounter with an oncoming G-train and was pulled screaming from the tracks before being rushed to Lutheran Medical Center. He was listed in serious condition there.

His mother, Margaret Devaney, was stabbed in the eye and abdomen. She died later at Methodist Hospital, police said.

Ryan’s dad, Raymond Devaney, who was stabbed twice in the throat, was in critical condition at Methodist, police said.

(Editor’s Note: Just to be clear, there’s no family relation to the Devaney’s from 10th avenue)


January 17, 2010


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 11:32 am
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Here’s the last image my main man T.K. sent me.  Do you recognize these guys? How about the fans standing on the sidelines watching the game? That was a pretty popular spot to stand while watching the game.  Every place in the yard was court-side! (Double-click on the image and it gets a little bigger)

Great, great memories of the Summer League in Holy Name’s schoolyard.

Here’s a story written by Risa Chubinsky of The New York Times on ‘bar-baby’s’. This is an interesting read.  Seems like parents bring their toddlers to bars in Park Slope. I used to spend time in Timboo’s with my father but he’d send me to the back to play pool or even pinball.  After that I’d sit in a booth with a coke and stare up at the TV watching football.


November 7, 2009


I don’t know about you, but I get all ‘nostalgic’ deep inside when I hear from someone I grew up with from the neighborhood.  I guess that’s why I started this blog a little over two years ago; I missed my friends and the memories.  (I relocated to East Lansing, Michigan in 1996. Despite what people may say, I’m not in the Witness Protection Program) As I climb the ladder of life (45 years young), I often think back to the experiences that helped shape who I am today.

Whether it’s a surprising e-mail from an old friend, a person asking me to accept a friend request on Facebook, or if someone happens to stumble upon the Container Diaries blog; and leaves a comment, it always brings a smile to my face, not to mention a warm feeling. (Yeah, that’s right, I said a warm feeling).

Catching up with friends I grew up with in the neighborhood is such a wonderful feeling; especially when it’s been over 30 years since I last spoke to that person. Hearing about how they are doing, how many kids they have, and of course their marital status. (Whoever thought they were going to get married while we were hanging out on 9th avenue or in the schoolyard?) Plus, how come no one ever told us how life was going to be in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s? Shit, come to think of it, I’m still trying to figure out this game they call ‘life’.

It’s an amazing experience hearing from people who I made my first communion with in the 2nd grade at Holy Name.  Hearing from people I argued with while playing slapball in Holy Name schoolyard and of course, people I spent a lot of time with in my teens and early 20’s.  Three different stages of my life; people I lost touch with, but never forgot about them.

Brother Luck was on my side over those years to be able to share good and bad times on a daily basis with great people.  Whether it was hanging out in Candy World on 9th avenue, playing basketball in the Boys schoolyard, flag football in Prospect Park on Sunday mornings, sitting in the back of Joe’s Pizza nursing a slice and a coke or playing basketball down East 5th street.


For all that know me, I was very passionate about sports.  Basketball was my favorite activity. I wasn’t good enough to make it to the NBA (my dream), and my playing career didn’t last very long in high school (7 games at John Jay). But I played all the time.  I went to so many places to play with different kids all over the city.  I took the train to Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and even drove over the Bridge to Staten Island to play at Cromwell on Saturday mornings.  I played ball down at the 9th street YMCA with guys from 5th and 7th avenue.  I played in 51’s schoolyard on 5th avenue with guys from Park Slope and I also played in 230 park with some Mexican kids who befriended me as soon as they saw how much I loved to play.

Basketball connected me with a lot of people; it was a sturdy bridge that I built over time. The orange roundball helped me form numerous friendships.  This mis-guided, insecure, angry, and envious teen was going with the flow for so many years; no direction, no goals, probably many thought, no chance. All I had was friends and basketball. Little did anyone know that things would turn out o.k. later on in life when I finally “got it.” (Thank you Mary Hogan, the most inspirational human being I ever came in contact with)

Facebook has brought me so much joy (as has this blog). I find myself checking them often (maybe too often). All the people who I have reconnected with through these two outlets have helped me look back at life and try to get a better understanding of who I was, where I’ve been and where I’m headed.  I’ve connected with guys and girls I haven’t spoken to in many years. I’ve connected with guys and gals who I knew from saying hello around the neighborhood but never really had any kind of relationship with and of course there are the people who I always wanted to become friends with but just didn’t know how to.  (Chalk that up to immaturity)

Big shout out to technology for helping me connect with the following: Alex McNeil, Teesha, Doris Bullock, Karen Artz, Liz Peterson from Prospect Avenue, Mary Kawas, Corrado, Paulie Ramos, Richie Ferraiolo, Frankie Lakat, Jerry Cole, Jimmy Vackner, Jimmy Cullen, (A.K.A., Spoony J), Rosemarie Taliercio, Fiore Tierno, Kevin Mahoney, Chris Johnson and many more.

Some of you know that I am currently writing a book (Miss Monzillo is probably so proud of me, I know I was one of her favorites). It’s a novel based on my life as a teenager. Some of the stories and characters will be familiar and some will not. I spent a lot of time with many different people; I guess chalk that one up to my ability to make new friends.

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have a couple of close friends who I keep in touch with on a daily basis like Glen Thomas of Sherman Street. It’s a great feeling knowing that all those years we spent together that to this day I can still pick the phone up and give him a call. (Not to mention a chat on FB) Ask yourself “how many people do you still talk with that you grew up with”?  I think it’s important to reach out to that certain someone you spent a lot of time with; it brings back so many fabulous memories. Plus, maybe someone is going through a crisis and hearing from you may lift them up or even bring a much needed smile to their face.

Facebook and Container Diaries are two great avenues to get in touch with a friend from the past.  Sign up now and search for someone’s name. (be careful what you tell that certain someone who you had a crush on at 12 years old) Check out the comments section after each blog entry here at Container Diaries and if you recognize someone posting a comment, reach out to that person. Why just the other day Sister Barbara formerly of H.N.S. left a comment on the blog; you remember Sister Barbara, dont you? She was the ‘friendly’ nun who DIDN”T wear Rosary beads around her neck.

Catch up with someone from back in the day, it’ll do wonders for you…

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.  This ain’t the Mud Club, or CBGB’s, I ain’t got time for that now…”

-The Talking Heads, Life During Wartime


Catch me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @CoachFinamore

September 27, 2008


Filed under: Blog — hoopscoach @ 9:07 am
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We all have our own story regarding the tragic events that happened on 9/11.  I was sent this story/ link/event by a loyal reader of Container Diaries about an off-duty fireman, Stephen Siller who walked through the tunnel to get to the World Trade Center as it was burning down.

This looks like a great event!  The race is Sunday so if you can. get out and get running!

Tunnel To Towers Run

Stephen Siller, beloved husband and father of five, was a firefighter from Squad 1, Park Slope Brooklyn. On 9/11, he was off-duty, and on his way to golf with his 3 older brothers.

When Stephen heard on his scanner that the World Trade Center had been hit, he turned his vehicle around and headed towards the site. When his truck was prohibited from entering the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, typically of him, he raced on foot towards the site with his gear strapped to his back.

He was last seen alive on West and Liberty Streets where he, more than likely, went looking for his Squad, all of whom perished. The Tunnel to Towers Run retraces Stephen’s footsteps on that fateful day.

In running along his path, we honor the memory of all the Firefighters, Police, and EMS workers who performed their duty that day. In running this race, we are reclaiming still another part of the city for all our heroes and for all of those who died on 9/11.

They will never be forgotten!

The Rubric Theme. Blog at


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