Archive for the tag 'sports'

Source: WFAN via

Source: WFAN via

Russ Salzberg, more affectionately known as “The Sweater,” has been a New York City sportscasting mainstay for 25 years. A New York Daily News report reflected on Salzberg’s success and his humble Sheepshead Bay roots.

Those most familiar with the 62-year-old Salzberg know him for his work on New York Giants and Yankees post-game reports and for his local special event television sportscasting activities. Despite all his success, including a long run working the mid-morning show with legendary WFAN host Steve Summers in the 1990s, Salzberg credits all his success to his father Lou, Brooklyn and the streets of Sheepshead Bay.

“I’ve been there 25 years since…What you see is who I am. I’m just Russ Salzberg from Avenue V and this is how I see it. I owe everything, all my success, to Brooklyn,” Salzberg told the Daily News.

In touring the area, Salzberg recounted his memories of the neighborhood that shaped him:

And it all started here in “V Park,” next to 2886 Avenue V of the Sheepshead Bay projects where he was raised and learned to play the sports that became his life.

“My old man was a track worker for the Transit Authority,” he says, walking into the park. “And all my pals here were working-class. Tough, funny, street-smart, loyal, no BS.”

He stands in the asphalt softball field, gazing at this Brooklyn laboratory where he created a helluva good life. “I played softball, stickball, football, hockey here,” he says. “We shot hoops over there. We met girls there on the benches at night. I learned all there was to know about life right here.”

Sometimes he would come here alone, imagining he was a big leaguer, and do a play-by-play aloud. “‘The count is 3-and-2 with two out in the bottom of the ninth with Salzberg at the dish. And here comes the pitch…’”

Salzberg also remembered how his father helped build the Amity Little League fields located at Knapp Street and Avenue V.

“My old man built these fields. He graded the earth, planted the grass, put up the fence. It was called Bedford Bay Little League then. He’d get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, come down, cut the grass, chalk the lines, and by 8 he was coaching my team. And then because my brother was mentally handicapped, he created a league just for handicapped kids. My father was hard as nails, with a heart of pure gold,” Salzberg said.

Tragically, Lou Salzberg died at age 47, three years after the Transit Authority forced him to retire over his bad heart. Salzberg reflected how difficult his father’s loss was for him:

Voice cracking, he smooths his natty suit and shrugs. “He died at 47,” he says. “That wasn’t his worst day. That came three years earlier when the TA forced him to retire because of his bum ticker. Lou Salzberg was a very proud guy. Take away his job and it ripped out his soul. I learned my work ethic from him.”…

Any regrets?

“Just one,” he says. “That my old man never got to see me succeed. Because of all the great people I’ve met, my father was my one true hero.”

This was a great piece by the Daily News and really interesting for people obsessed with listening to WFAN like I am. Growing up in the 90s, I remember fondly listening to humorous antics of the “Sweater and the Schmoozer” on summer days before the Mike and the Mad Dog took over at 1 p.m. To check out the rest of the story, which includes Russ’s story of how he broke into broadcasting, click here.

docgoodenNew York Yankees baseball legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden will be in Sheepshead Bay this Saturday, signing photos and copies of his memoir to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Sheepshead Bay’s Ridgewood Savings Bank (2520 East 17th Street).

The feared pitcher, who played for both the Mets and the Yankees, as well as other teams, during his 16-year MLB career will dole out autographed photos for free to those who stop by the event. The youngest player to appear in an All Star Game, Gooden was known for his 98 mph pitch and curveball.

Gooden struggled over the years with alcohol and drug abuse, an experience he eventually overcame and detailed in his 2013 autobiography Doc: A Memoir. Signed copies of the book will be available at the event for $20, with all proceeds from the sale going to support the Bay Improvement Group.

The signing event will kick off at noon and last until 2:00 p.m.

Kings Bay fields, just after Sandy. (Source: Kings Bay Little League)

Kings Bay fields, just after Sandy. (Source: Kings Bay Little League)

Kings Bay Little League, one of Sheepshead Bay’s only Little League organizations, took a beating during Superstorm Sandy, when water tumbled past the Belt Parkway and submerged its below-street-level fields.

Now, they’re receiving some relief, scoring a home run of $15,200 in grant funding from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the New York Mets.

The grant went to restoring the fields at Coyle Street, between Voorhies Avenue and Shore Parkway, which sat under four feet of water for more than a week after the storm. Money also went to funding a new scoreboard, pitching machine, storage lockers and utility vehicle – all lost during Superstorm Sandy.

Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the New York Mets announced in May that they would donate up to $1 million to youth baseball and softball organizations impacted by Sandy, and soon after chose Kings Bay as a recipient. The new scoreboard was unveiled in August, and celebrated during a barbecue outing at the fields earlier this month.

“Thanks to the Baseball Tomorrow we were able to replace most of the items lost or damaged due to Sandy. Our facility is fully operational now and is hosting numerous little league games,” said Kings Bay leadership in a press release.

View more photos of the flooded fields after the jump.

Source: ebbandflowphotography via flickr.

Source: ebbandflowphotography via flickr.

In 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration raised the fees for residents looking to use City-run recreational facilities, including ball fields and tennis courts, looking for a bump in revenue. According to an exhaustive report by the Independent Budget Office (IBO), the increased fees not only failed to increase revenue but drove down membership across the city.

The numbers laid out by the IBO starkly portray the failure of Bloomberg’s bet that increased membership fees would increase revenues. The City was projecting that increasing fees would lead to $6.3 million in extra revenue but in the end, they only ended up with $1.1 million in extra revenue and decreased athletic facility activity across the city. The IBO laid out the specifics:

• With considerably higher fees at the start of the 2011 tennis season, the number of adult seasonal tennis permits sold by the city fell from 12,774 in 2010 to 7,265 in 2012, a decline of 43 percent. Single-play permits fell 46 percent, from 23,512 to 12,755 over the same period.

• Despite the decline in the number of adult permits sold, there was an increase in revenue because fees doubled for these permits. The city collected a total of $2.1 million from the sale of adult, junior, and senior tennis permits in 2012, but the revenue fell $1.3 million short of the projected increase.

• The number of recreation center memberships sold in 2012 declined by 52 percent to 46,047 with the doubling of membership fees for adults and seniors at the start of the fiscal year.

• With the decline in memberships, recreation center revenue remained flat in 2012 at $4.8 million, about $4.0 million below the Bloomberg Administration’s expectations.

• Although the number of permits sold for ballfields also fell in 2012 in response to the rise in fees, the resulting increase in revenue exceeded expectations by nearly 5 percent.

The full IBO report, which you can read in detail by clicking here, presents the fascinating insight into how the fee increase, in their opinion, ultimately ran counter to Bloomberg’s much publicized health initiatives:

The parks department raised its fees for tennis permits, recreation center memberships, and the use of ballfields as part of a citywide effort to close projected budget shortfalls. While anticipating some fall-off in usage, the city still projected that the new fee schedules would raise $6.3 million in additional revenue in 2012. The decline in sales of tennis permits and recreation center memberships was far steeper than expected, however, and the gain in revenue totaled roughly $1.1 million—a fraction of what had been expected.

Perhaps equally troubling, the sharp drop-off in parks usage runs counter to the Bloomberg Administration’s anti-obesity and other health policy initiatives.


Pips Comedy Club

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.”

Photo by Jim Mancari via

Met legend Lee Mazzilli and his son L.J. Mazzilli (Photo by Jim Mancari via

New York National League fans were thrilled when Met baseball legend Lee Mazzilli’s son, L.J., was selected by the team in the fourth round as the 116th overall pick in the 2013 draft. In a recent interview with Brooklyn Based, L.J., who is currently playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones, noted the Mazzilli family’s strong ties to Sheepshead Bay.

L.J.’s father, Lee, was a huge homegrown star of the New York Mets in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. A Lincoln High School graduate, Mazzilli was part of a proud athletic tradition. His father was welterweight boxer and Sheepshead Bay native Libero Mazzilli. As the Met’s sole representative in the 1979 All-Star game, he hit a dramatic game-tying home run in the 8th inning and later scored the winning run for the National League  in the ninth. After being traded for future Met great Ron Darling before 1982, he returned to the Mets during the 1986 Championship season and contributed as a key role player.

Mazzilli’s son, L.J., continues the family’s proud Brooklyn athletic tradition as a second basemen for the Brooklyn Cyclones. He spoke of his memories with his grandparents in Sheepshead Bay:

Where’s your favorite place in Brooklyn?

Sheepshead Bay. My grandparents were there until they passed away, so you know, there’s lot of history there. You know, that park right underneath the overpass by Avenue Z. I grew up playing handball and basketball and stickball and would ride my bike around there and then hit my grandma’s salon shop down the road. My grandpa would take us there and meet her for lunch all the time. So I mean that’s my favorite spot when I was little.

I really hope L.J. Mazzilli makes it to the major leagues as a New York Met. There is just so much to root for here; his father’s glory days with the team, the Brooklyn roots and especially the Sheepshead Bay connection. Did anyone ever remember spotting the elder Mazzillis in the area? Let us know.


Friends and family of a Sheepshead Bay man who was brutally stabbed to death in 2007 gathered for the sixth consecutive year, honoring him with a long softball Sunday.

The group gathered at Homecrest Playground (Homecrest Avenue and Williams Court) on August 4, bringing with them coolers, pizza and gear for the game. For more than six hours, the group of roughly 60 friends and family took turns at batting and fielding, and trading stories about their friend, Anthony Senisi Jr., who was a Yankees fanatic before his untimely death.

Senisi was on his way home from a grocery store on August 4, 2007, on Brighton 6th Street when he was stabbed in the back. He collapsed in front of his house in view of his son, and died in his father’s arms. Authorities believed Senisi was mistaken for someone else while buying milk for his Sunday morning ritual of coffee with his daughter.

In 2008, one year after his death, lifelong friends Howie Sosner, Billy Fallon, and Gary Friedman organized a softball game for Senisi’s friends and family to stay in touch and do something he would have enjoyed.

“This is what we all did as teenagers. We played every Sat and Sunday, we played from noon until it was pitch black outside,” Fallon said, rattling off the local parks and schoolyards where they played, including Homecrest Playground.

After establishing the event, it just kept growing as those touched by the 44-year-old plumber discovered it and came to honor his life.

“The first year was 40 [people]. Then my friend introduced me to Facebook and it grew and grew. The biggest year we had was over 100 people,” Fallon said.

Six years into the annual event, the organizers said they have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

“[We'll do it] ’til we can’t run no more,” Fallon said. (“Yeah, well, we might have the wheelchairs,” Sosner added.) “And then we’ll just find something else to do to remember him by.”

Check out photos from Anthony Senisi Jr.’s memorial softball game.

Source: Shorefront Y

Met’s legend John Franco signed autographs at the playground’s reopening. (Source: Shorefront Y)

The Shorefront YM-YWHA (3300 Coney Island Avenue) unveiled its remodeled playground area on Monday, after spending months rebuilding it in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

With funds provided by Citi, the New York Mets, and the Mets Alumni Association, the renovations included elevating the area’s sinking asphalt structure, installing fencing, repairing cracks near the tennis courts and replacing a storage area. The Y also introduced a new adjustable basketball hoop and a refinishing of the tennis courts that will make it more accessible to community members.

Source: Shorefront Y

Franco poses with the ribbon, alongside leadership from the Shorefront Y and Citi. (Source: Shorefront Y)

Approximately 250 children buzzed about during the ceremony donning Mets themed shirts that read “Teammates in the Community,” awaiting the star-studded ribbon cutting that included Mets legend John Franco.

Franco served as the Mets’ relief pitcher for 14 seasons, and later served as the team’s captain. He grew up near the Shorefront Y, and brought the same passion to rebuilding the community as he did to his beloved sport.

“Get out there, have fun, and play the games you love,” he said. “Exercise is the most important thing for kids right now.” That includes exercising the mind through education, he noted.

The New York Mets’ beloved mascot, Mr. Met, was also expected to be in attendance, but unfortunately, to the dismay of the children, was stuck in traffic and could not make it.

A long blue Citi and New York Mets ribbon was brought out, with one end held by Jill Kelly, the vice president of Citi Community Development, and the other by Franco, and was cut by Susan Fox, the executive director of the Y, which symbolized the official opening of the play area.

Alla Vaynshteyn, the director of marketing and communications at the Shorefront Y, described how the new play area offers something to do for everyone who attends the community center.

“It basically allows children and adults of all ages to use more areas of the backyard,” Vaynshteyn said. “For example, the basketball hoop is now adjustable, which we didn’t have before, so the littler kids can enjoy it too.”

The renovations to the play area took roughly three months, with the removal of displaced sand from the storm briefly delaying work.

Fox thanked Citi, the Mets, and the Mets Alumni Association for making the remodeling possible, and reminded the children of the Shorefront Y that they too have a lot to be thankful for.

“This neighborhood was really hurt by Hurricane Sandy, but the Shorefront Y was lucky,” Fox noted, as she referred to the fact that there was no flooding within the building of the community center, only the play area.

“The Shorefront Y is a part of United Neighborhood Houses, and we are a settlement house with the mission and purpose to make sure our neighborhood is taken of care,” Fox said. “That backyard is a special place for you.”

Students from the Millennium Development/Starrett City with former pro baseball player Terry McFarlin (top row left) and Mets Hall of Fame pitcher John Franco (top row in 42 cap)

Over 200 students from an assortment of Brooklyn youth groups celebrated Jackie Robinson day Monday by meeting some ex-baseball players and getting a private screening of the new movie about Jackie Robinson, 42, at the Regal Cinemas in Sheepshead Bay, according to a press release.

The kids, who spent the day hearing stories from former ballplayers John Franco and Terry McFarlin, were culled from the Marlboro Housing Development, Millennium Development/Starrett City, and the Coney Island Communities youth groups. They learned about the groundbreaking heroism exhibited by Jackie Robinson in the face of intense hatred and bigotry as he broke baseball’s color barrier back in 1947.

Franco and McFarlin, both products of Southern Brooklyn, also shared powerful words of wisdom with the children on hand.

“Stay focused on the goals you set for yourself and never stop working to improve yourself in a effort to achieve those goals,”  said ex-Met Franco.

“The more you put into something, the more you will get out of it. Always give 100 percent in whatever you do and more often than not, you will be successful,” added McFarlin.

In honor of Jackie Robinson day Monday, every player in the major leagues wore the number 42. Jackie’s number is also ceremoniously retired by every team in baseball.

The event was sponsored by the Municipal Credit Union (MCU) and the Brooklyn Cyclones, the New York Met Class-A affiliate.

Murrow High School (Photo: Erica Sherman)

Edward R. Murrow High School is continuing to mold an army of Garry Kasparovs with its latest victory, their eighth win at the National High School Chess Championship on Sunday, according to a report in the Daily News.

The tournament was held in Nashville, Tennessee, and had over 5,000 competitors from high schools across the nation going against one another from Friday to Sunday.

The team qualified for the tournament when they won the state championships for the 16th time in February. They also won the state championships last year, and took home the national title in 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. The school’s team counts Olympic chess players and world title holders among its alumni, and an award-winning book has been written about the team’s formation.

Azeez Alade, a member of the current team who hails from Nigeria, told the Daily News that now that they have secured their victory – yet again – it’s time to declare check-and-mate on some burgers and video games.

“We’re all going to go to Dave and Busters! No more chess! We’re done with that — we’re celebrating,” said Alade.

Congrats to the Murrow team! We look forward to more victories in the future.



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