New York was once alive with sports — street corner jibes about which of the three baseball teams was your pride, your deep faith. In the American League, we had the always well-tended Yanks of high spending, multi-million dollar owners. In the national league, of course, our beloved Dodgers and, over in Manhattan, the Giants (named so because, in the early years of the game, the won so often).
It’s well known that street arguments occasionally turned into bare-knuckle blows between Yankee, Dodgers and Giant fans.
But how many remember our football teams of the same names?
Here along the shore, our windows had to grow dark and street lights turned off, as America was drawn into the raging European war.
How paradoxical that Japanese envoys sneaked out of a White House meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while their Japanese bombers were revving up their engines to bomb the beautiful Island of Oahu, decimating man and vessel with fire and bombs.
How ironic it was that the Brooklyn Football Dodgers defeated the favored Football Giants on Dec. 7, 1941. Suddenly young American sport fans of all ages were enlisting to go to war the following day.
The lights were out in our back room and we listened to that Monday afternoon broadcast live from the capitol. We can’t ever forget the president’s resonance as he called upon Congress to declare war against the axis of Japan, Italy and Germany.
In the silence that followed, the rolls of the House of Representatives were called. Only one congresswoman from Maine was opposed. The Senate followed suit and some months later, Lou Powsner volunteered for a green suit in the Army-Air Force with his friend Steve Kinkel — Lou was sent down south to Mississippi and Steve out west to Colorado.
At least we had the joint pleasure of hearing our own Brooklyn Dodgers upset the favored Giants. “See you later, after we win this war, fellows.” Off we went in khaki Air Force uniforms.
With the help of God, Steve and Lou came back. We remember his wedding uptown in Manhattan. Most recently we couldn’t locate the funeral parlor in Westchester, but we did get to hear his daughter, Janet, do “Sports Talk,” when she was on the radio as Janice Kinkel.
Unfortunately our Football Dodgers did not survive that war, as WW2 shook up, but let us out, through war-time manipulation and Donald Trump rolling into us with some other league manipulations.
If we thought those manipulations were disastrous to mighty Brooklyn, the next shake-up was disclosed on the afternoon that Lou Powsner was an honoree of a Brooklyn Democratic Annual dinner. When accepting the award, Assemblyman Brian Sharoff asked me to speak. I chose to divulge how Brooklyn was being “castrated” and there would soon be no ball teams left to root for. First the Brooklyn football Dodgers, then LA kidnapped our great baseball Dodgers. And at the time, football’s New York Giants were plotting to escape to the Meadowlands in Jersey.
We cited what a daily listener to Arthur Godfrey on WCBS said, Godfrey always complains to us about his daily drive past the pig farms of Paramus. He and some complaining sports talkers suspected that perhaps the long-missing Judge Crater was buried there before they planted grass and painted white stripes on their pig sties. Parking at the new stadium was very lacking so the Giants went wild with steep prices and it parlayed its robbery by kidnapping the NY Jets to share the stadium on alternate Sundays.
Even the Jets stadium had been used as a flea market while sub-leased through Mayor Koch Deputies, until Channel 7 filmed the many violators in that flea market publicly admitting, “We don’t have no tax here. This is a flea market.” That night, one of Ed Koch’s deputy mayors broke the flea market law, violated the lease and resigned. Shea Stadium followed him to oblivion and the Jets to Jersey.
Now Jets and Giant fans are truly roaring of a new crime at the Meadowlands — this one against the loyal fans. One paper said it’s “Gouging the Parkers.” Rates were reported to range from $29.99 to $100 per game. It started at 10 games for $250 — for Jets fans who once saved sales tax at Jet flea market in old NYC.