Ray Garvey, a true Brooklyn renaissance man, will be inducted into the Brooklyn Softball Hall of Fame this Sunday in Kelly Park (East 15th Street and Avenue S) and be remembered for his larger than life personality. The New York Daily News is reporting that while Garvey died of cancer three years ago, he has not been forgotten.
The Daily News described how Garvey, a fine local athlete, rose from humble roots to become one of the more visible and beloved Brooklyn residents:
Ray Garvey started out as a Daily News paper handler in the early 1970s and then became a city sanitation worker and later a cop at the 71st Precinct, where he served under a commanding officer named Ray Kelly. He survived the Crown Heights riots, worked in the NYPD Harbor Unit and then ran the Police Athletic League in Brooklyn for a few years, where he coached kids like Stephon Marbury in the Coney Island Houses.
Garvey’s brushes with fame began when he got the nerve to start performing comedy at the legendary Pips Comedy Club (formerly of 2005 Emmons Avenue), an establishment he would later come to own with his brother John:
While still a cop, he moonlighted as the doorman at the storied Pips Comedy Club on Emmons Ave., where Rodney Dangerfield, Jerry Seinfeld, Colin Quinn, Robert Klein and Andrew Dice Clay learned their trade.
Garvey once told me that if he could climb into a ring in a pair of baggy shorts in front of 20,000 people to get punched in the face, he could mount a comedy stage.
So he started doing short comedy routines, emceeing and soon developed his own act delivered with a Brooklyn accent thick enough to fill potholes. His brother John (Murph) Garvey later bought Pips and Ray managed it.
“I was the first guy to cast Ray in a movie,” Woody Allen told me. “He was a great guy and a natural mug actor. A Brooklyn street guy that played great on the screen. When I met him he looked to me like an over-the-hill John L. Sullivan and I used him a number of times and he always came through for me.”
His work with Woody Allen led to dozens of other roles in other big projects including, Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Law and Order and The Sopranos. The Daily News described the honor Garvey will be receiving Sunday as well as a description from fellow local athletic street legend Billy Pucci:
On Sunday, the guys in Kelly Park will enter Ray Garvey into the Brooklyn Softball Hall of Fame, presenting John Garvey with a certificate and a T-shirt.
“I can’t tell you how deeply it touches me,” says John Garvey.
Billy Pucci said it best.
“Ray was six years younger than me. He looked up to me. But I looked up to him too. He was pure Brooklyn — tough, talented, street smart, loyal, hardworking, stand-up, and all heart. Ray Garvey was Brooklyn. I miss him every single day.”