The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Bronx’


Posted by keithosaunders on January 14, 2016

In the meantime I’ve read a great book – The Glory Game –  by former NY Giants running back, Frank Gifford about the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Giants and the Colts.  This was the game that is considered to have put the NFL on the map on its way to sports supremacy.

Now talk about salaries:  Most of these players were earning less than $10,000 a year – well less.  Many of the players couldn’t afford their own apartments, doubling up in dorm like rooms in a Bronx Hotel a few blocks up from Yankee Stadium where they played their home games.

They played 12 game seasons. The league was divided into two conferences consisting of six teams.  There were no playoffs!  In 1958 the Giants finished in a tie with the Cleveland Browns so they, in fact, did have to play a playoff game which they won on a last second field goal by Pat Summerall.  (yes, that Pat Summerall)

My father, who recently passed away, went to the Championship game with my Uncle Herb. It was played on December 28th at Yankee Stadium.  They didn’t have tickets — they decided on the spur of the moment to go.  Imagine a world in which you can take a subway to a stadium where a championship game is being played, walk up to the box office, and buy a ticket.  That’s what they did.  They probably paid $5.00.  (incidentally, my best friend, who lives in the Bronx, tells of doing the same thing for the 1976 World Series between the Yankees and Reds)

The Giants started off shaky with sloppy offense and porous defense.  Gifford, never known as a good ball handler, fumbled twice and as a result the Giants found themselves down 14-3 at the half.  In the second half the Giants turned it around and took the lead 17-14.  A late Giant drive stalled out at their own 40 and with 4th and inches and 2:30 to go in the game coach Jim Lee Howell elected to punt. A first down would have put effectively put the game away for the Giants.

After a punt the Colts took over on their own 14 and that’s all Unitas needed.  He proceeded to engineer one of the great drives in NFL history, picking apart the tired New York defense.  The drive ended in a 20 yard field goal as the clock expired in regulation forcing the very first overtime game in NFL history.  No NFL game to that point had ever gone overtime.    Don’t forget, up until the 1980s if a regular season game ended in a tie it was over.  There was no sudden death overtime — there were ties.  So when the clock ran out the players didn’t know what they were supposed to do!

The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive.  Don Maynard, who would later go on to win a Superbowl with the Jets, muffed the kickoff return but recovered his own fumble.  Regardless, the Giants went 3 and out and punted.  The Colts took over on their own 20 and once again Unitas put together an epic drive culminating in a Alan Ameche touchdown.

Some people consider this the greatest game ever played.  All I know is that my Dad was there and that I have the program to prove it.

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Posted in football, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Bronx Christmas, Pelham Parkway style.

Posted by keithosaunders on January 6, 2012

 Back in July I posted about a house in the Bronx on the service road of Pelham Parkway that goes crazy during the Christmas season utilizing every square inch of its lawn with Christmas decorations.  Hence its nickname:  The crazy house.   
I was in New York last week and I decided to revisit the crazy house and take some photos to put alongside the summer edition. 

These photos were taken a couple of days after New Years which is why the plastic was already on the figurines, but you’ll still see a good example of the lunacy that goes on for six weeks at the end each year.  Note the addition of Liberace at the piano.  He goes into hibernation during the summer months, but his piano remains on display.

July, 2011

January, 2012

July, 2011


January, 2012

And with this display of pageantry we bid a fond adieu to Christmas, 2012.

Posted in New York City | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tour de Bronx

Posted by keithosaunders on June 21, 2011

While I’m in New York City I’m staying at my friend Jeff’s house in the Bronx.  Some of my longtime readers may remember Jeff as an occasional guest poster.  He is a fellow sports fan and music aficionado.  It is a testament to our friendship that Jeff, the greatest Yankee fan of all time, could be best friends with the greatest Yankee hater of all time.  Believe me, I got the better part of the bargain.

The Bronx gets a bad rap.  When people think of the Bronx they think of an overhead shot of burning buildings in the South Bronx taken from the Goodyear Blimp during the 1977 World Series, with Howard Cosell’s overly dramatic intonation, “The Bronx is burning!”  Back then it was a dangerous place, but much of greater New York City was as well.  The city was broke, crime was rampant, and the real estate and stock market boom of the 80s was yet to arrive.

Today I helped Jeff run an errand to a part of the Bronx that Jeff was unfamiliar with.  We ended up taking a circuitous route, but this was right in my wheelhouse.  I love seeing different sections of New York, particularly in the outer boroughs.  It’s in these neighborhoods —  not chic, glossy, yupped out Manhattan —  where you can still get a whiff of old New York.

We set out from Jeff’s neighborhood, a verdant, tree-lined section of Pelham filled with old three-story red brick houses.  There are lots of flowering bushes, and by summertime the trees begin to form a shade canopy over the streets.

Pelham is in the East Bronx and we headed north and west via the Mosholu Parkway, cut over to Bedford Ave, and made a hard left onto the Grand Concourse and headed downtown.  The Concourse was designed and constructed in the late 1800s with the idea of providing access from Manhattan to the parkland in the northern Bronx.  It was lined with fashionable, deco-style apartments, most of which still exist today, although some are in ill repair.  I took a photo of one that I found particularly striking; a triangular building that reminded me of the Flat Iron building on 23rd street in Manhattan.


We passed 176th street, a mere ten blocks north of Yankee Stadium, and turned east onto Mount Eden Rd.  Here are some of the apartment buildings.






After a few more blocks we approached Crotona Park.  The Bronx is home to most parkland per capita in New York City.  Pelham Park, in the Northeast, is even larger than Central Park.  I was amazed to see this green oasis in the middle of a dense, urban area.







After a few more blocks I noticed a stand-alone, one-story house which was surrounded by pre-war apartment buildings.  Jeff then recalled that back in the ’70s Jimmy Carter had visited the Bronx, and decrying the urban blight, pushed for the construction of several affordable homes.  Sure enough we soon came to a block that had several of these homes. 


We reached our destination on 176th st, ran the errand, and turned north and east to go home.  We found ourselves on Boston Rd, which at this point, runs under the 2 train, which is part of the IRT subway line that runs express in Manhattan under 7th Ave, and continues into Brooklyn, ending in Flatbush.  For my final picture here is a shot under the el — a classic New York street scene if there ever was one.  


Now get out there and visit the Bronx!


Posted in New York City | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A surly time in New York City

Posted by keithosaunders on June 17, 2011

I’m back in New York for a seven week stretch while my kids go to camp, and if there’s one word to describe my mood it’s surly.  I’ve been here for just over 48 hours and already I’ve almost made a right turn on a red light, (illegal in NYC) gotten into a shouting match with a gas station attendant, who chided me for not knowing the correct method of swiping my credit card, and suffered sticker shock from crossing the Throgs Neck bridge.  ($6.50 one way)

I’ve played two gigs on the Island with a singer and his quartet — a band I worked with for four years before moving — and was amazed that the east bound traffic has actually gotten worse in the 10 months since I last traversed that hellish thoroughfare called the Long Island Expressway.  In fact, between driving to those gigs, and taking my oldest boy on various college tours, I have been to Westchester, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and tomorrow, New Jersey.  Almost every road, except for the ones going north towards Westchester, is jammed up.  Brooklyn is a joke — even when the traffic is light, the lights are metered in such a way that you have to stop every other minute.  I do appreciate the more aggressive New York driving style, however.  I am amazed and impressed that even on the congested roads of Manhattan and Brooklyn, people manage to drive as fast as possible, and for the most part, avoid getting into accidents.

I passed my the new Nets arena, which is under construction on Flatbush Ave in downtown Brooklyn, and it appears to be roughly a quarter completed.  All I could think of was that I wouldn’t want to be within five miles of that place on game night.  The traffic will be backed up to the Upper West Side. 

Oh yes…I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the aggravation that goes with seeing the Yankees sweep the AL champion Texas Rangers, while the Mets, in a bid to go over .500 for the first time since the first week of the season, blew Thursday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves in excruciating, Metsian fasion — a blown save by their closer, Franky Rodriguez, and a 10th inning balk with a man on third by reliever, D.J. Carrasco. 

Yep, I’m back. .

Posted in New York City | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Commencing countdown engines on

Posted by keithosaunders on March 6, 2011

When I lived in New York, like most Mets fans I hated everything about the Yankees.  Believe it or not, however, there was one thing about them I found likable.   

In those days I taught piano three days a week at a catholic school up in Yonkers, a town just north of the Bronx on the Hudson river.  On my drive there I had several routes, each more complicated than the last.  The idea was to avoid the Major Deegan Expressway (I 87) at all costs.  On the way home it didn’t save any time to avoid the Deegan since it was rush hour and all the roads were equally crowded.  I would grit my teeth and do battle with the Deegan.

Roughly halfway through the Bronx, just off the Deegan, sits Yankee Stadium.  There used to be this marquee perched on the top of the Stadium’s facade.  After the season was over the marquee read Thank you fans, a missive that would last a month or so, to be replaced with Happy Holidays for the bulk of December.

My favorite time of the winter was after the new year.  This was when the marquee began counting down the number of days until pitchers and catchers.  Then, in mid-February, when the pitchers and catchers reported, the countdown until opening day would commence.

I always looked forward to passing the marquee.  Somehow it made those long, cold winter nights a little more bearable to know exactly how many weeks and days until the beginning of baseball.  Rather than dwell on the sad reality that there was nothing to watch on TV except boring, meaningless mid-season NBA and NHL games, I would focus on the inexorable approach of a happier, warmer season.

I appreciated the fact that someone in the upper echelon of the Yankee brass — who knows, maybe even The Boss himself — took the time and trouble to update such a whimsical marker.  It was a childlike endeavor in the best sense of the word.  I felt like a kid passing that big ball orchard in the South Bronx, figuring out how many weeks the countdown translated into. 

When they built the new stadium and tore down the old one they neglected to include a marquee —  it wouldn’t have been visible from the Deegan anyhow.  There was an electronic bulletin board just to the right of the highway, but it was never used for any kind of countdown.  The era of whimsy had closed.

Oh, I almost forgot…there are 25 more days until opening day.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

One night in East Rutherford

Posted by keithosaunders on January 23, 2011

The date:  January 22nd, 1987.

The location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

The weather:  Blizzard

My friend and occasional guest blogger, Jeff, had tickets to the new Jersey Devils game versus the Calgary Flames.  It was a midweek night game and the plan, as per usual, was to meet him in Washington Heights at 5PM.  Jeff lives in the Bronx and at that time worked in Manhattan, while I was living in Brooklyn.  Rather than go back to the Bronx, which was out-of-the-way, Jeff had parked uptown very close to the entrance to the George Washington bridge. 

By the time five o’clock rolled around there was already a foot of snow on the ground and it was still coming down hard.  Jeff and I were young and fearless and we weren’t going to let a little weather stand in the way of  seeing the Devils and Flames bang and smash each other into submission.

Jeff had snagged the all-time classic blizzard parking spot.  He was at the end of the street facing downhill so he didn’t have to dig out of his spot — all he had to do was ease into traffic, make a right turn and we were on the bridge crossing the state line.  Once we hit the Jersey Turnpike the traffic came to a dead halt.  It was practically white out conditions and it was rush hour to boot. 

We inched along wondering if we would miss the start of the game.  We arrived at Byrne Arena an hour and a half later —  a half hour after the scheduled start —  but we soon discovered that the game was being delayed since many of the players were stuck in the same traffic!

When we entered the arena we found that we had it practically all to ourselves.  There were only 334 people who showed up!  An announcement was made inviting us to sit anywhere we pleased so we moved up to the front row behind the Flames penalty box.  The anthems were dispensed with due to the late start and the banging and smashing commenced.

I’ll never forget the strange feeling of being inside of a 20,000 seat arena with so few people inside of it.  It was like being at a practice.  The sound of the players being checked into the boards reverberated throughout the building like thunder and we could hear the players shouting at each other. 

At one point  the Flames designated goon, Nick Fotiu, received a five-minute major penalty.  As the PA announcer said, “five minutes,” Jeff waved the Daily News at him and asked him if he’d like to read the paper while he’s in there.  He actually turned around and threw a menacing glared our way.  It was scary so we moved up a few rows and kept a lower profile.

On the way home the snow had stopped after depositing two feet and the temperature had dropped into the teens.  There were abandoned cars that had spun into snow banks all over the Turnpike.  When we reached my house in Brooklyn the lock on my front door had frozen so Jeff climbed in through one of the unlocked windows and was able to open the door from the inside.

While we were at the game someone from the Devils P.R. office had circulated a sign in sheet asking us to fill out our address.  Two weeks later we received Devils t-shirts in the mail that said, “The 334 Club”  I wore mine for years until it disintegrated —  I believe Jeff still has his.  Four years ago. on the 20th anniversary of the blizzard, the Devils honored the 334 fans who attended that infamous game by giving us free tickets and inviting us to a post game banquet.  Jeff and I attended that game. 

Here I am 24 years later in Berkeley, California, where it was 67 degrees today.  It’s hard to believe that I attended a game in a blizzard at a time when the Devils were perennial cellar dwellers.  I’m glad I did.

Posted in sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

You can’t go home again: Part 2

Posted by keithosaunders on January 1, 2011

One month ago, at Thanksgiving, I visited my father in Las Vegas.   On the way there I spent a night in Los Angeles seeing some old friends.  I couldn’t resist a chance to peek at the house in Van Nuys where I grew up.  The house was painted a different color, was a little worse for wear, but for the most part was as I remembered it.  But there was something otherworldly about looking at a place that was so familiar, yet not mine.

Here it is, a month later and I find myself in New York City — my first time back since moving to Berkeley five months ago.  I stepped off the subway at 47th st/Rockefeller Center and I wasn’t prepared for the emotion that hit me — anger.  Anger that from now on my status in New York will forever be that of a cameo.  Everything here seems the same, but like my experience with my childhood house, it seems alien to me.  New York is slightly out of focus;  it is no longer my town. 

My gig was great.  I played at a restaurant called Per Se with my good friend and favorite bassist, Bim Strasberg, and a fine singer, Hillary Gardner.   The gig was long, but good.  There was a nice Steinway there and we had a beautiful dinner.

Looking east on 59th street from the Time Warner Center

 Afterwards I went down to Small’s in the village for their after hours party.  I had a great time sitting in and I saw some old friends there.  I stayed for a few hours, stumbled onto the street and into the subway.  I rode all the way to the end of the line on the 6 train up to the Bronx.  After walking halfway up the ramp to the Bruckner Expressway I was able to reverse course and find my way to my friend’s house.   I went to bed a seven AM.

The great Richie Vitale at Smalls


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One day in Yankee Stadium 50 years ago.

Posted by keithosaunders on October 21, 2010

Today’s post is brought to you by WOK’s special guest blogger, George Chimes


Fifty years ago I went to my first World Series game. Thought I share this great experience & reflect how our National Pastime has changed…

The day before the 3rd game of the ’60 World Series between the Yankees & Pirates my buddy Tony Anastasi and I decided to go.  We left our homes in Brooklyn at 6AM for a 90-minute ride on the D train to The Bronx.  The fare was 15 cents round trip if you took the paper transfer leaving the D station and used it after the game to board the elevated 4 line.


At the Stadium we got on a long line but had no trouble buying bleacher seats at 10AM for the 2PM game.  I believe the tickets were $2.50.  Prior to the game we feasted on the hero sandwiches Tony’s mom gave us.
The crowd was almost all rabid Yankees fans from the boros of NYC.  I recall some intense discussions on Yankee manager Casey Stengel’s decision to wait until the 3rd game to start future hall of famer Whitey Ford.  Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru threw out the first ball.  He and his entourage left after the second inning on this crisp, sunny fall day.  As dedicated Yankee fans Tony and I loved every minute of this lopsided game.  The final score Yankees 10 – Pirates 0.


Here we were, two kids with almost nothing in our pockets, able to walk in and see what at that time was undisputedly America’s most prestigious sporting event for half the price of what it costs to buy a soda at Yankee Stadium today.
I’m usually dismissive of fogies who go on about the good old days, but I can’t imagine anyone in 21st century America enjoying this kind of encounter with America’s pastime. 

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

New from KTEL!

Posted by keithosaunders on September 1, 2010

Keitho shows you the Bronx! 


You’ll hear such hits as,

I’m Making a Left, Just Deal With It

Changing Lanes Over You


Reversing Off the Bruckner

 Phone now and receive the bonus track, I’m Jiggy with the Jughandles of Jersey.

 Act now while supplies last.



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