By Phil DeBasket
Who slipped Gary Carroll basketball Viagra? It didn’t take but the opening minute of the opening game of the Graybeard 2000 opener for Carroll to lay claim to being the best 50 year old in the league. Another performance like that and he’ll never be mentioned in the same breath as that other lefty with glasses, what’s his name? Mrs. Ryan’s 49-year-old son.
Of course there were signs that Carroll was as ready as a high school senior parked on Lover’s Lane with a girl named Lola. He not only got a haircut which makes him a dead-ringer for the crew-cutted waitress at The Wharf but he accosted the league’s outgoing commissioner during pre-game lay-ups about how his team was shortchanged at the draft and how they were just too damn skinny a bunch to contend. You know that’s why they call him Three Dog Night because all he does is bitch, bitch, bitch all night long.
But as that Greek philosopher Gomer said---and don’t tell me Gomer Pyle wasn’t Greek---surprise, surprise, surprise: Three Dog Night (Three Dog to his close friends) was ready to do more than bitch---the man brought a serious game to the SFDS gym last Thursday night. In fact he played like someone else they use to call a bitch---Bernard King. He sliced and diced, dished and swished and before the first half was done Happy Jack Meade and his merry marauders looked like they were shishkabobbed by Carroll’s phallic feat.
Carroll’s stunning performance was ably supported by Billy Collins who tossed in 25 and Tom Pinky McVeigh who hit a series of deadly second half jumpers to give The Red Menace a shockingly easy win over the Blue Crew.
The Blue Crew played so poorly, so lifelessly, we’re not gonna waste font on them.
The Graybeard season, by the way, starts each year in secret fashion (You’ve got to know four passwords and three secret handshakes to register. But you don’t have to play in the nude as suggested by rugby prevaricator Bob Johnson. The league is always threatening to burst at the seams and nobody wants to volunteer to run a league with more than 50 middle-aged Neanderthals --- and that’s the simple reason why no one’s allowed in unless you bribe the right people. Ands if you don’t think that’s fair you can run the league and keep the measly bribes yourself).
Anyway, enough with the pansy-ansy disclaimers. Back to the action.
Game two got underway with Dan Leary teamed with about nine guys names Raphael (all progeny of the famous Spider Raphael who used to rule the playground back in the day). These Green Giants squared off against a Maroon team with an apparent affection for Lemon Maroon Pie. You look at the lay-up line and you expect to see Monica Lewinsky but it’s actually worse than that. You look at the lay-up line and what you actually do see is a bunch of Linda Tripps.
Tommy Carroll (6000 cubic inches, comes with a water dispenser and ice maker) merely looks like another piece of big furniture when he steps alongside teammates Brian Burger King and FrankenSean O’Leary. Laser Louie Pastina and Dan Murphy are the token toothpicks on a team that also has Chris Boyle, John Cosgrove, Jack Weber---guys who look fondly back on the days when they were under 210.
This game wasn’t decided until the final minute. King, pout-free (not even wearing a brace for it) for the first time in years, played his finest game in memory. He nailed numerous turn-arounds and even went deep---delivering a murderous three pointer. His stellar performance was matched by O’Leary’s who proved that Dr. Frankenstein remembered to give his monster a nose for rebounding. The affable beast was simply monstrous on the glass and played Leary tough throughout. But as long-time readers of this column know---compliments are often followed by devastating truths. So Grandma if you’re cutting their clippings you best stop here.
The two studs turned stiff with under a minute to go---both choking from the foul line, giving Green a lifeline (they quickly phoned a friend and polled the audience: should they take advantage of this opportunity? Yes was the final the answer).
Besides the missed freebies, Maroon got careless with the rock as Tom McCann twice stole the ball and Green stole the game.
Game footnote: Suntan Dan Edwards, the first man traded in league history---an honor, for sure--- wasted no time in molding the team in his image (everybody’s head was beet red and they ran the Pegasus offense).
For the first time, the league is running a three games a night format (anybody remember Nicholas Nickleby?). By the end of the night the refs look like Jerry Lewis at the end of his telethon----which is perfectly fine because the players tend to play and look like the Nutty Professor.
And speaking of charities (we were, you know the Jerry Lewis telethon) this game was marked by performances at the charity stripe. In short, Jim McCool shot the season’s first air ball and J.D. Donovan canned a freebie for the win.
The night’s feature game was a thriller with both squad’s at full strength. This baby was tight through with one team up by a point at half and the other team up by a point at the final buzzer. When games are this close throughout there’s no such thing as a turning point---that is, until the final few seconds. Suffice to say, there were highlights all game long but they’re impossible to remember. What both teams and fans alike will remember for decades is the last blast to the hoop by Captain Crunch, Jim McCool.
With his team trailing by one, the clock about to evaporate, the big man looked like a runaway semi on 95 as he bounced and jounced to the hoop. Bodies were strewn along the shoulder as he went up for the winning shot. The wreckage he left in his wake, as it turned out, was nothing compared to the damage he did to the backboard on the uncontested lay-up. As his shot caromed off the glass fans on the far side of the gym recoiled as the ball came flying at them. The ball crashed into the bleachers, there was a moment of stunned silence, then the buzzer sounded. Game over.
Say this, it was a classic finish. Thanks, Crunch
As for the other squad in this masterpiece, Jim Leaper Howley (with a haircut that makes him look like Mr. Dick Bogart ) was joined by John Ippelito (who allegedly could’ve made a Scott Tissue commercial due to pre-game jitters) and the league’s Unabomber, Bobby Bruns. The White Castles also boast ---the guy who used to be compared to Gary Carroll---Rob Ryan. Roy Ryan? Randolph Ryan? We’re only joshing you, Rich. We gotta give you your props for that George Gervin finger roll you laid in Harry Werner’s mug in the first half. How do you spell Ryan? S-w-e-e-t. This squad also brings to battle Steve Stathis, currently the youngest member of the Hell’s Angels. Steverino makes those t-shirts and greeting cards---Nifty at Fifty---somehow seem less annoying. When Steve popped in a J from the corner all 50-year-old precincts had reported in. We’ve mentioned just about everybody so let’s not neglect Gunner Geary and Joe McCormick formerly known as Joe McCormick---we’ll dissect them in a future column.
McCool’s Royal Blues are one of the few teams in league history to lose the opener and remain faithful to each other. At the postgame conference in Jameson’s they drowned out the jukebox with a spirited rendition of Kumbaya. We’ll see if they feel the same way in the weeks to come. Already the cynics are saying the same thing about Dan Conlin and Brian Boyle that they said about the Donald and Marla, "it’ll never last."
Rim shots: When opening night closed Kevin Kelleher, Chris Boyle, Jack Weber, Bill Armstrong, Bob Geary, Joe Kenel, Kevin Lunny, were Billy Nolan were virgins---still waiting to score.
Helen Brady was missed.
Kenny Brady wasn’t.
Mary Mead and Eileen Cosgrove were the only pom-pom girls to show. They looked quite fetching. We hope to have more ladies show because we love it when Bob Geary says, "The chicks are back. Pass the word. The chicks are back."
The Tony Randalls of the league, Chris Boyle and Dan Murphy, became fathers again this past week. Congrats.