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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: December 14, 2012

Brooklyn As Seen By A Bronx Guy

As a lad growing up in the East Bronx, I carried an Albatross around my neck. Like the Ancient Mariner, I had committed an unpardonable sin. My sin: I rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, while living in the Bronx. All those Yankee lovers chose to make my life miserable.

What seemed like every year (except for 1955), the Yankees embarrassed the Dodgers in the World Series. It was difficult to walk the streets without being hooted at by some DiMaggio, Henrich or Charlie Keller fan. I just did what they said to do in the musical, The King and I: “I just held my head up high and whistled a happy tune.”

In those years my seldom-made trips to Ebbets Field were like a pilgrimage to Mecca. Four subway trains delivered me to Bedford Avenue, just to see Pee Wee, Jackie, Gil, Carl, Roy and the Duke. In 1957, the Dodgers deserted me and moved to Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. What a heartbreak!

And now after a 55-year hiatus, professional sports have returned to Brooklyn. Not in baseball, but in basketball. The New Jersey Nets have somehow been reborn into the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. The new modern, 18,000-seat arena was built near where Walter O’Malley wanted to move the Dodgers but Robert Moses said no, and he then moved to the west coast.

The population of Brooklyn is 2.6 million people. Brooklyn, on its own would be the third largest city in the U.S.A.: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are larger.

Living on Long Island, I followed the Nets for many years. At the Nassau Coliseum and at their home in Garden City, I rooted for them. Rick Barry and his under-hand foul shot were fun to watch. The Nets have had a formidable odyssey, but now they are in reach by the Long Island Rail Road and 11 subway lines. We wish them great success and great basketball in their new home.

It should be fun for me, returning to Brooklyn to see a winning team in the greatest city, New York.