Thursday, January 3, 2008

WINGATE BASKETBALL CONVERSATIONS





APRIL 20, 2005
FROM TIME TO TIME MY HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATES AND TEAMMATES HAVE REUNIONS. RARELY ARE THESE ORGANIZED, WE JUST MEET WHEN OUR PATHS CROSS AND THE OPPORTUNITY AVAILS ITSELF.
REUNION MIGHT MEAN THREE OF US OR THE WHOLE SENIOR CLASS OF A GIVEN YEAR / ERA, AT WINGATE HIGH SCHOOL IN BROOKLYN.
I STARTED TO WRITE BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – BUT EVERY SELF RESPECTING BROOKLYNITE KNOWS THAT BROOKLYN IS THE LARGEST ELEMENT OF THE METROPOLIS KNOWN AS NEW YORK; SO, IF YOU CAN SAY ELVIS, FRANK, RAY, DENZEL, MORGAN, CHER, ARETHA, CLINT - THERE IS NO NEED TO ADD FURTHER IDENTIFICATION TO THE BORO OF KINGS.
MY MOST RECENT MINI REUNION, WAS IN MIAMI, WITH COACH / DOCTOR HOWARD ROSENSTEIN, JOEL BARBANELL AND MY SON, GEORGE DONALD.
WE BROKE BREAD AT THE RASCALS HOUSE DELI ON COLLINS AVENUE.
JOEL PICKED UP THE TAB, SO RIGHT AWAY, I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO BE A POSITIVE GATHERING - FREE FOOD IS ALWAYS A PLUS TO ANY MEETING. . BESIDES THE NORMAL LIES AND GROSS EXAGGERATIONS THAT ARE INHERENT IN ANY GATHERING OF “MATURE GENTLEMEN,” DISCUSSING EITHER FISHING OR THEIR YOUTHFUL ATHLETIC PROWESS, I MANAGED A SMALL INSIGHT / EPIPHANY.
THE COACH WAS CALLED AWAY FROM THE TABLE AND WHILE HE WAS GONE, JOEL MENTIONED AN ISSUE, ABOUT WHICH HE AND THE COACH DISAGREED CIRCA 1962 AND MIGHT STILL DISAGREE ABOUT IN 2005.
UPON HIS RETURN, THE COACH LAUNCHED INTO A RANT ABOUT BASKETBALL RELATED INJUSTICES SUFFERED 45+ YEARS AGO -- IN MINUTE DETAIL - THE PASSION WAS STILL THERE - THE FIRE TO COMPETE WAS STILL BURNING - AND THIS IS WHY THE CLOCK STANDS STILL FOR US WHEN WE DISCUSS THESE GAMES. THEY WERE MOMENTS OF INTENSE PASSION AND THEY NEVER DIE AND THEY HELP KEEP US YOUNG.
WE MOVE ON AND GROW UP AND MATURE, BUT THOUGHTS OF THOSE DAYS, OPEN EMOTIONAL GATES THAT WOULD NORMALLY BE CLOSED AND IGNORED, EXCEPT WHEN WE ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF THOSE WHO SHARED THESE BATTLES WITH US, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY WERE FRIEND OR FOE AT THE TIME.
I SAW CLEARLY, THAT WE NEVER AGE, OUR BODIES “GROW” LARGER OR SMALLER, THE HAIRLINE RECEDES OR DISAPPEARS COMPLETELY, OUR STEPS ARE NOT AS QUICK OR STEADY, BUT IT IS STILL 196?, WHEN WE MEET.
THE PASSION OF THOSE DAYS NEVER DIES AND IT NEVER EVEN LESSENS.
EACH OF US HAD A STORY TO SHARE FROM OUR OWN PERSPECTIVE AND EACH OF US SHARED IT AS IF IT WAS 45 YEARS AGO – WE WERE NOT “MATURE GENTLEMEN,” REFLECTING BACK ON EVENTS AND BENEFITING FROM KNOWLEDGE AND INSIGHTS GAINED SINCE WE OBTAINED OUR A.A.R.P. CARDS – WE EACH WERE LOCKED INTO THE VIEWS WE HELD THROUGH THE EYES OF GUYS WHO WERE 45 YEARS OUR JUNIOR AND LIVED IN OUR BODIES BACK IN THE 1960s.
THIS IS NOT A NEGATIVE REALIZATION, IT IS A TRIBUTE TO THE PASSION WITH WHICH WE LIVED THOSE DAYS.
THE DAYS THAT STIRRED TALK OF COACH MICKEY FISHER, CONNIE HAWKINS, CHARLEY DONOVAN, GARY GOLDBERG, FREDDIE GRASSO, COACH GIL FERSHTMAN, WILEY BRIGGS, WALT DAVIS, SAM PENCEAL, JACKIE WILSON, BUTCH MURDAUGH, ALBIE GRANT, VAUGHN HARPER, ELDRIDGE WEBB, BILLY CUNNINGHAM, RON SNOW, DANNY MASCHIA, LEROY ELLIS, COACH & REF JERRY SLOAN, LEW ALCINDOR, BIRDIE KRANZ, TONY JACKSON, SHELLEY JACKSON, HARVEY JACKSON, TOMMY KUROWSKI, DENNIS WATSON, BILLY TAYLOR, LESTER MOYA, CHARLIE HELLMAN, COACH JOE LAPCHICK, COACH IRWIN BELL, MARTY GOLDSTEIN, RALPH SEALEY, AL CRUZ, RONNIE BRESSANT, COACH / DOCTOR HOWARD JONES, COACH SAM GLICKSMAN, NEVIL SHEDD, GLEN AND GERALD DAVIS, THE ENTIRE NILES FAMILY, BOB JEFFERSON, TONY MARTIN, EARL SPARKY SMITH, AL VANN, MILFRED FIERCE, DANNY CULLEY, TIMMY VINCENT, GEORGE MURDEN, JOE CONNORS, BEANIE CAMPBELL, LESTER ROBERTS, RAY HASKINS, ZEKE CLEMENTS, LLOYD CURTIS, RUDY WALKER, GIL REYNOLDS AND SPENCER PORTEE.
I KNOW I AM LEAVING OUT MANY NAMES, BUT YOU GET THE IDEA OF THE WIDE RANGE OF OUR CONVERSATION. TALK THAT TOUCHED ON WINGATE STAFF MEMBERS - LEE KRINSKY, MITCH STRAUSS, COACH DON ALTMAN, COACH WEIDMAN. WINGATE WORLD SPORTS WRITER, NOW INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN FILM CRITIC – KENNY TURAN OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES. TALK ABOUT WINGATE ATHLETES LIKE PAUL ANTHONY, DENNIS EDGHILL, RUSSELL PARKER, PETER BAKER, JOE MATTHEWS, SYLVAN HOLMES, RICHARD MITCHELL, LES BARBANELL, THAD OWENS, MIKE LAWSON, DENNIS LAWSON, LENNY WHITE, MEL LAWSON, HASKELL GARRETT, CURLY MATTHEWS, SAM STERN, CHARLIE WARREN, DONNIE BLACK, NEIL FEUERSTEIN, MARTEL WYNN, STEVIE SCHACHER, JIMMY MILLER, FREDDIE WALLS, RALPH EDMONDS, LOU DELSARTE, KENNY PETERS, GETTYS CATO, LLOYD HUNT, BRIAN BURKE, ALAN FISHER, SAM "KNOTS" SAMUEL, JOHNNY SMITH, O’NEAL TUTEN, BOBBY REISENBERG, ELIOT FIEDLER, STEPHEN PRENNER, ED GRANT, RONNIE SANFORD, VINCENT CAPERS, BIG AL CROMER, JAY GOLDSMITH, TEAM MANAGER, BRUCE PERRY AND LAST, BUT NEVER LEAST, JUDITH AND ROGER BROWN WERE SPOKEN OF WITH RESPECT AND AFFECTION.
THESE NAMES ARE NOT DISTANCE TO US, WE STILL SEE THEM AS YOUNG AND STRONG , RUNNING AND JUMPING, FAILING AND SUCCEEDING, HAVING AN IMPACT ON OUR LIVES AND WE ON THEIRS.
BASKETBALL HAPPENS TO BE A GLAMOROUS SPORT IN HIGH SCHOOL, BUT IT IS OUR SHARED YOUTH THAT BONDS US TOGETHER AND NOT OUR GAME. WE NOW APPRECIATE THE ABILITY WE HAD TO GET KNOCKED DOWN AND WITHIN TWO SECONDS, GET BACK UP AND CONTINUE RUNNING.
WE MADE CHOICES BACK IN THE DAY AND THOSE CHOICES ARE ULTIMATELY OUR RESPONSIBILITY, THEY CAN'T BE LAID OFF ON THE COACHES OR PARENTS OR PEERS. MOST OF US BATTED 500 ON OUR DECISIONS AND IN LIFE, 500 IS A PRETTY GOOD DEAL, MANY PEOPLE NEVER GET HALF OF WHAT THEY WANT OUT OF LIFE.
WE REALIZE NOW, AS WE COULD NOT HAVE RECOGNIZED THEN, THEY WERE THE GOOD OLD DAYS - BUT, IF WE CAN MANAGE TO SOLDIER ON ANOTHER 20 YEARS OR SO, THESE WILL BE THE GOOD OLD DAYS TOO.

3 comments:

iisonu said...

Hello....I was reading your blog this morning and came across the name Ralph Sealey and was wondering if this was my dad you were referring to in your blog. Morgan State grad,Director at St. John's Rec in B'klyn from the 60's to the 80's...if so let me know......My address is paradise4all@optonline.net....Thank you and have a blessed day...Ralph Sealey II

Will Stasiuk said...

Big Gaff- 12 years ago I started a website dedicated to psal boys basketball. http://www.psalhoops.com/

Nowadays most of the content is related to the history of the sport. I have used your website from time to time as a source of info. I would love for you to e-mail me so I can ask you for some more info about the players and coaches of your era. wilburcoach@earthlink.net) - Coach Will Stasiuk (Automotive HS)

Joel Barbanell said...

Today,Aug 18,2015 .Just browsing on my computer,I re-read Big George Gaffney's Blog
Chief as we called him, was one terrific guy. He was my teammate at Wingate ,and we became life long friends. George was the glue that kept us together 50 plus years.
Chief always reminded me of our glorious games at the old Madison Sq.Garden. He always reminded me, that if the 3 point shot was in effect, we would have won the City Championship against Boy's High. George told me a thousand times ,Joel your 5
long jump shots @ 2 points each, were definite 3 pointers in a more modern era ,would have won us that Championship.
Big George passed away 2 months ago. I miss him dearly. We were teammates for life
Joel Barbanell
Wingate 1959-62