On this 27th day of July 2007, exactly 50 years from that historic date back on July 27, 1957, I will be making a video clip and photos of me making some closing remarks and making a presentation to the league for everyone’s donations which is around an unbelievable $1,385!!.
- Fifty years ago today.....Joe Gemmo wrote.....
- And this just in from Hawaii
- Peter Zwerling's memories
- Bill Cassidy's Fond Memories and Recollections
- More Fond Memories from Mark
- Al Uhl, Tom Fitzgerald and Joe Gemmo share their f...
- Les Storch and Richard Storch have been found
- Tom Fitzgerald found!!!
- Phil Plasencia living in Floral Park wrote:
- Found former little leaguers
- ▼ July (10)
Monday, July 30, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Pete Zwerling Fond Memories
- Like everyone else, Herman Dunsay and that nasty Blackjack gum is a vivid memory. I can still taste it.
- That red-headed umpire who seemed to ump every game.
- Hitting the first HR over the fence in the 1956 season. The next batter Bobby Tabita followed with another over the fence HR. Back to back in the Little League. Amazing.
- Arnie Goldfarb teaching me how to throw a curveball. It had a great effect back then but my continued use of it was the probable cause of my arm being blown out at the age of 15. (Tommy Fitzgerald had a similar experience)
- In 1956 we played the
Floral ParkNationals in the first game of the tournament at the Oval. We went up against a great picher named Woj…… and some how scratched out a 2-1 win. Richie Csekits pitched magnificently for us. In the second game of the tournament we played the Raleigh Floral ParkAmericans(who were supposed to be inferior to the Nationals) at their place. I was the starting pitcher and got absolutely rocked ; being knocked out in the first inning. We knew we were in trouble when half the team drove cars to the game and had tufts of hair protruding from the tops of their jerseys.
- Of course the
game,which has been well chronicled, remains my fondest memory. It was the greatest game I’ve ever played in at any level. Venezuela
- I’d like to pay special tribute to the managers and coaches who made it all possible. In no special order:
- Arnie Goldfarb
- Mr. Storch
- Dick Jacobson
- Mr. Sperling
- Nick Gemmo
- Lou Cassidy
- Irv Fendel
- Lou Cagan
- Herman Dunsay
- Bob Raben
I too recall very vividly the day of our tryouts. My Dad always played ball with me and used to hit a zillion fungos to me at Alley Pond Park. That day someone hit me quite a few fly balls and the Hawk manager, I believe was Irv Fendel, was standing next to my Dad and said he was going to bid for me, and I was going to be a Hawk. So, I found out what color uniform the Hawk's had, etc. and was anticipating receiving my postcard assigning me to the Hawks...well I received my card and was assigned to the Eagles...who the heck were they? Well next day at P.S.191 I asked around and found out they were a very good team...and they were..a little too good...I eventually wound up playing for the Wings as my Dad was the coach with manager Charlie Hall, and between Bob Rabin, and Herman Dunsey they worked it out...and I always appreciated that break.
The first ball team I was on I remember things that I learned. I learned
how to chatter from Johnny Cronin, the second baseman who to this day I
think was one of the best hustlers, and chatterboxes I ever played with ,
always talking it up and all through my baseball career would try to
remember to chatter.
Bob Rabin had me play 3rd base for the first time..loved the position..it's
funny because then I was known a third baseman..played 3rd and outfield
throughout Little League, Pony League, and Babe Ruth.
There was a catcher, I believe with the Eagles, who used to keep yelling
"Swing Batter", and then if you swung and missed, or there was a called
strike, would shove the ball in your face "Here it is Batter, here it is"!!!
Well I picked up that act during my catching days in the Mid Queens Boys
Club Queens Alliance team. I caught in College ( Hartwick College, Oneonta
N.Y.) but never shoved the ball in anyone's face...oh how I matured!?!
The only negative, about the Oval, you may recall is they never had any
water fountains. Each year at the awards banquet there would be some
assemblyman promise next year we'll get a water fountain...didn't happen
during our time. Instead I remember the parents and managers and coaches
bringing basins filled with cool aid, or water, and we'd all use the same
ladel. If the other team forgot, they'd have to wait a few innings before
it would be shared...same ladel. The only other way was to run to the
laundry room in the garden apartments..there was more than one inning or two
delayed till we were all back on the field.
ICE CREAM SODAS
Remember, after winning a game we would usually go for an ice cream soda...
there was a place right on Union Turnpike where the coaches and parents
would treat the team..I want to say the usual place was Sandy's (?)...in the
Pony League same tradition, except we then would go to Stuie Fudderman's
FINALLY AN ANSWER
I always wondered why Tommy Fitzgerald was so slow on those pop flys behind
first base...with Pop Fitz dropping a ball down a building and Tom waiting
for an elevator to retrieve...and here's my
Dad hitting about 10 fungos a minute...I guess it kind of falls into place!!
Let's face it, during that time Baseball was King. We were the last
generation of NYC kids that grew up with the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants.
We knew what that meant to each of us,our families, and neighborhoods... and
we knew what it meant to lose it...everything we ever did, whether, stick
ball, stoop ball, punch ball, spelling bees...it was always the Dodgers,
Yankees, and Giants...a great era...and a great era growing up in NYC. A
great era to play in the Glen Oaks Little League... where you were an Eagle,
a Tiger, a Hawk or an Oriole....not whether you were Irish, Jewish, Italian
Thanks Parents, Managers, Coaches, Volunteers, and Umpires ( I umped for
Little League and Babe Ruth League, and American Legion)...for all the
support, and the opportunity to learn the game and learn about teamwork..and
now to see our grandsons and granddaughters, learn about sports,hopefully as
we had...Great Stuff!!
Additional fond offerring from Mark:
- Vic Riccardi of the Hawks and 1958 All Star team recounted how over 50 years ago, Nick Gemmo, late father of Joe Gemmo, who was a little league coach and wholesaler of Louis Sherry ice cream would give free ice cream to the Glen Oaks Little Leaguers. Not surprisingly, those acts of kindness help produce and mold Joe Gemmo into a fine human being.
- Richard Cagan of the Hawks and the 1957 All Star team revealed that his late father Louis Cagan, who was Vice President of the Glen Oaks Little League at the time, traveled all the way into
Manhattanto obtain a phonograph record of the National Anthem. It was brought back to the Oval where it was played on a record player as part of the ceremonies of the historic Venezuela game along with the American National Anthem. That kind of thoughtfulness produced a considerate and well meaning person in Richard Cagan, who true to form brought old pictures from the Hawks, all the way from Scottsdale, Arizona for all to enjoy at the 50th reunion on Sunday June 24th. Our hats off to Richie. Venezuela
- Bill Cassidy of the Tigers and the 1957 All Star team conveyed that after playing Little League, he played Pony League, Babe Ruth League, Varsity on Martin Van Buren High School, Varsity at Hartwick College and semi-pro. He said the biggest game in his life was the
game. Bill's dad, Lou who is alive and should continue to be well at age 92, played a crucial role in the Venezuela game. Besides being a fireman for the Venezuela Fire Department, Lou Cassidy had a second job working at a plant nursery. With that expertise, he volunteered his skills to the Glen Oaks Little League and put the field in perfect condition for the most important game ever to be played at the Oval. Lou Cassidy was awarded a plaque for his outstanding work 50 years later. That kind of generosity produced a respectful and admiring son in Bill who not surprisingly is treated the same way by his son. New York City
- Peter Zwerling of the Eagles and the 1957 All Star team had a mother who was dying of cancer. The doctors wanted to put his mother in a hospice where they expected her to die within 5 days. Peter asked his wife Lynn if his mom could stay with their family in their home instead of being in a hospice. Lynn, a lady with a big heart said yes. This allowed grandma Zwerling to communicate with her grandchildren on a daily basis. She could have spoke about anything to her grandchildren. One thing she did mention to them was the historic
game including their dad was the star pitcher and hitter for Glen Oaks. Grandma Zwerling surrounded by love from her son, daugher-in-law and grandchildren lived not days, not weeks, not months but YEARS after the doctors gave up on her. What a statement about the entire Zwerling family as to honoring one's parent. Not surprisingly, Peter's son traveled to the Oval from Venezuela to honor his dad. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania --thanks for your consideration and time in these observations. Lynn
- Finding members of the 1957
team appeared to be a daunting task. Peter Zwerling remembered the name of one player, Dewey Smith. With that kind of name, we guessed that Dewey Smith was the son of an American oil man. I tried to get the names of Venezuela oil companies and hope that Dewey Smith was a junior or the third. That would be the best way to track him through the name of his father. Unfortunately there were so many US USoil companies in that it proved to be a dead end. In April 2007, while visiting my friends Sam Bettsak (originally from Maracaibo Panama) and his wife Debby Bettsak (originally from Columbia, South America) in Atlanta, Georgiathe following happened: Debby's mother was visiting her for the Passover holiday from Bogata, . The morning that I left Columbia Atlantafor RochesterI mentioned to Debby and her mother that I was trying to contact members of the little league that played for in 1957 against Glen Oaks. Debby said Tomas Lefkowitz of Maracaibo, Venezuela Maracaibolived in and would be able to help me. I politely listened but thought to myself how this fellow could know anyone that played on that little league team. It turned out he did! He knew one fellow living in Atlanta Caracas, Venezuelaand one living in . I called Fred Abbo who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and has been living there for the past 30 years. Fred pitched in that historic game as confirmed by the box score we obtained from the New York Times article. He wanted to attend the festivities but conflicting business considerations prevented it. Fred had and sent me all the names of players of that team. About 10 years ago, Fred was in Fort Lauderdale on business and just happen to be reading the newspaper. He was surprised to see that the paper did a story on the 40th anniversary celebration of the Maracaibo Maracaibolittle leaguers traveling to to play. New York
- In 1961, on a hot Saturday morning in August, the Hawks were playing the Orioles in the first game of a 3 game series to determine the Major League champion. My father of blessed memory, Maurice Eisenberg, would always be in his family shoe business, Cheap Murray's, in the Broadway Brooklyn ghetto neighborhood (Tommy Davis of the LA Dodgers' relative was one of our customers) particularly on Saturdays as it was the biggest day for business in the retail business. That day my dad drove my mom of blessed memory, Sylvia, to the store in Brooklyn from
. She would always help out in the store. He then drove all the way back to Glen Oaks to watch me play in that game at third base for the Hawks. In a well played and hard fought game the Hawks won I believe 1-0. My dad after the game gave me an alcohol rub down and asked me if I would go with him to the store to help out. I always helped out in the store anytime my folks asked. Naturally I happily joined my dad after another example of the sacrifices made for me. Glen Oaks Village
- The Saturday night game at Shea Stadium June 23rd, 2007 played before about 53, 000 people on Met Shirt Night (They did not know but they were really there to see the 1957 and 1958 Glen Oaks All Stars be honored) saw a team playing the Mets that traveled around 3,000 miles, from Oakland, California, from a different league. The Mets had a runner thrown out at home plate by an outfielder. The game ended in the bottom of the last inning with the Mets winning by one run (1-0). Now 50 years ago almost to the day, on July 27, 1957, a record crowd of about 300 people at the Glen Oaks Oval saw a team that traveled several thousand miles from Maracaibo, Venezuela from a different league and country, play the Glen Oaks All Stars. In that game an outfielder from the
team, Dewey Smith, threw out two Glen Oaks players at home plate per New York Times article (one was Dickey Moen according to Mick Sopko in the top of the 5th inning). The game ended in the bottom of the last inning with two out, decided by one run (5-4). How eerie is that!! Maracaibo
- There is a famous quotation from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. "There is a divinity that shapes our end". It is hard not to see that The Divine Hand made the Glen Oaks 50th Celebrations weekend and those who participated such a resounding and sentimental success, despite all kinds of obstacles, and uncertainties such as weather which turned out to be beautiful.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Al Uhl Fond Memories
- I also vividly recall the dreaded “tryouts” and the nervous stomach that accompanied them. And how well structured and organized they were. Having run a girls softball league for many years here in
, including being responsible for the annual “draft”, I obtained a new respect for the planning and execution that must have been put into the tryout process. Ohio
- I remember with fondness Herman Dunsay. Remember shopping in “The Dugout” and how friendly and helpful he was. I also recall going to him after I was drafted into the Majors as a 10 year old. I told him I thought I would develop my skills more staying in the International League vs. playing part time in the Majors. He orchestrated a trade or something that allowed me to go to the Leafs from the Hawks and I had a tremendous season as a 10 year old pitching and playing short and (I think) leading the team in hitting and having the most pitching wins. I am sure that this had a lot to do with my being a full time starter in the Majors as an 11 and 12 year old and my making both the ’56 and ’57 All_Star teams. Having talked to Bill Cassidy prior to the reunion, I discovered Herman had done the same for him resulting in him playing for the Wings where he had a great year too. In fact, we both recall that the Leafs and Wings played for the league championship but neither of us are sure who won! J
- I not-so-fondly recall the Blackjack gum Herman Dunsay always provided. Hated it but gagged it down. My way of “taking one for the team”!!! J
- During this time frame my Dad was an FDNY firefighter and also had a part-time home improvement business (which most firefighters had). When he wasn’t working at one of his two jobs, he would be working on one project or another on the house. This meant that he was rarely able to watch me play which would have been nice for both of us. That was sad BUT I also recall him getting home after a long day at one job or both, grabbing a quick bite to eat and then going over to an area we called “the Parkway” (alongside the Cross Island Pkwy) where he would squat in front of the chain-link fence and let his son bounce fastballs, curves (sort of) and knuckleballs off his shins as I learned to pitch. What a guy!!
- I recall all my 3-mile round trips down Union Tpke to the Oval on my bike to most of my games. Funny but I never seemed too tired to ride home despite playing ball for hours! Ahhh youth!!
- I also recall hanging around after our regularly scheduled games to play pick-up games (still in uniform) with whoever was around for whatever daylight we had left. Remember choosing sides using the hand-over-hand thing with a bat??? It was always great not to be picked last. J
· With respect to the
· And of course, the overriding memories are of all the great guys and friendships made through those years and the amount of time, effort and dedication shown by all the adults that managed, coached, umpired, administered the league, did the grounds-keeping and maintenance and on and on. As I said above, I ran a league for many years and it gave me a new appreciation of what it takes to run a successful league of any kind. We are all eternally in debt to these fine people!
Tom Fitzgerald Fond Memories:
- Yes, the day you try out for the Little League has to be burned indelibly into every kid's memory bank. We had just moved to New
Hyde Parkfrom a six story apartment near LaGuardia, from which my dad dropped fly balls to me from the roof. I'd catch them, run into the building, put the balls on the elevator, send them up to the sixth floor, and we'd do it again and again. Now, that's baseball...in the City! Baseball out on the Islandwas going to be different---real ball fields, open land, a place called The Oval...if we could only find it. We drove in circles and circles, but not the right circles, then we finally found it, The Oval, filled with hundreds and hundreds of kids and parents. Wow! Three ground balls, three throws to first or home, three swings of the bat, and your fate was sealed. That was pressure, that was one stressful day, but a good day, a very good day. It set everything in motion for so many things.
- I too remember Herman Dunsay fondly. He was such a nice person, like a beloved uncle to us all. He GAVE me, didn't sell us, my first, first baseman's glove, which I still have today, oiled and ready.
- Morty Lynch, the Edd Byrnes ("Kookie" on 77 Sunset Strip) of Glen Oaks LL, Babe Ruth and Connie Mack baseball, was a character. I wonder if a single guy with a red convertible hanging around young boys on a ball field would even be given a chance in this day and age to do what he did then...help coach, be a big brother, counter balance all the serious coaching going on and be the fun guy? I doubt it. Most of you probably didn't know that he owned a private garbage route in Nausau, which is why he had all that free time in the afternoons. I worked for him in my sophomore and junior summers...picking up garbage from 6:00a to 11:00a or 1:00p, depending on the load, as we garbage men used to say. He'd pick me up at my house at 4:30a, and my older friends would pick me up at the garage after work on the way to the beach or the pool. It was a great job. Learned a lot about life from the full-timers.
- I have the clearest memory of the '58 game against Brooklyn to go to the NYC Championship, mainly because of the setting and pitcher for
Brooklyn. He had to be at least 6' 11." OK, probably 5' 11", maybe 6', but he was way tall, with an 8:00p shadow, and I'm sure his kids were watching from the front row. I also remember it as a night game, with a big crowd. It will always be the epitome of a big game, in a big setting, with a big cast of characters for me.
- More than anything else about my Glen Oaks Little League days, I remember the tenor of the times. We rode our bikes to the games. Played pick up ball between games. Left the house after breakfast, "...just be home by dinner!" Car pooling was "...you guys pile in the back." Now, my grandkids play ORGANIZED t-ball, with uniform shirts, and a full audience of doting parents and grandparents. If there wasn't someone pointing to first base and urging them to run, they would have no clue what they should be doing. I liked the old days better...for being a kid and just playing.
- A final story about the value of Little League, because all too often too many people who don't know straight up from down give it a bad rap... Twenty-five or so years after Glen Oaks, I coached Little League in
, as probably all or most of you did wherever you landed. We too had tryouts and a draft. Twelve year olds had to play in our majors. I had to take the very last twelve year old on my team, who was the last to show up for our first practice. His other teammates were paired up in two lines about 30 feet apart playing catch. So, I had Steve get in position thirty feet away to play catch with me. My first toss to him hit him dead square in the forehead. He never moved his hands. I looked over my shoulder, fearing I threw the ball right out of the sun. No sun. What the h....? Long story short, he had NEVER played catch before. No dad or uncle or anyone had ever thrown a ball his way. Didn't make the tryouts, so there was no info on him. His single parent mother thought it would be good for him to get out of the house and play baseball...and it was. No, he wasn't an undiscovered super stud, but he improved. He contributed. He had the best attitude of any kid on the team, including my own. Half way through the season he showed up with brand new RED baseball shoes, and will be forever known as Steve Red Shoes by everyone who played Westside Little League in Madison, WI. His life turned around that year, and he went on to become, not a great person we have read about, but a solid, well grounded, happy person. I'm a big fan of Little League, our years, our kids' years, and all the years to come! Madison, WI
Joe Gemmo Fond Memories
- When we first joined the Little League, we had to go through “tryouts” in which we all wore numbers on our backs for identification and each had a turn batting and fielding and performing in front of all the team coaches and remembered being so nervous. Days later in the mail, we waited anxiously for the postcard that revealed which team you were selected for.
- Herman Dunsay bringing the All Star team down to his sporting goods store to pick out our favorite bat.
- Herman Dunsay always giving out black jack liquorish gum before each All Star game to calm our nerves, but we all hated the liquorish taste and would often spit it out but still keep chewing in front of him.
- My dad, Nick Gemmo, treating us to ice creams.
- My dad, Nick Gemmo, and Sam Bila, Ronnie and Alan Prendamano’s dad, would always be kidding around to ease our nervousness before the All Star games. One day, the both of them drove a few of us All Stars to a game and they began “drag racing” on the parkway. Now Sam’s car was much faster and sped way ahead of us, but we noticed that down the road Sam’s car was pulled over by a cop and was getting a speeding ticket as we passed by laughing and waving to them.
- During the 1958 Brooklyn-Queens championship game, we were down 2 to 0 going into the last inning and remember Herman Dunsay, Arnie Goldfarb and Morty Lynch taking the whole team aside and telling us that we’re a much better team than what we’ve done in the game so far and telling us to really let’s show them and the crowd how good we really are!! That last inning we exploded for 5 runs and won the game convincingly 5 to 2.
- We all thought so highly of Herman Dunsay and we tried frantically to find out whether he was still alive (which would have put him in his 90’s by now) and if so, his whereabouts. I was able to make contact with his son George, living in Maryland, who by the way played Glen Oaks Little League ball in the early 50’s, and said that his dad had passed away a few years ago at age 92 and that he still lived all his life in Glen Oaks up until the time he was admitted into a nursing home. A very special plaque is being prepared for our beloved Mr. Dunsay and being sent to his son George together with our reunion DVD.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Mark has added in an email:
We were down going into the last or next to last inning. I got a hit, and, amazingly, I got the sign to steal. Even more amazing, I made it. The catcher got the ball there in plenty of time, which wasn't a hard thing to do when I was running, but I was able to slide around the tag. A few hits later, we won our first game, and were on our way...all the way to Staten Island. It was my one and only stolen base in All Star competition, for good reason, but it was the right time at the right place.