2010-09-03 / Letters

Rockaway Old School Classic A Great Day

Dear Editor,

The 4th annual “Old-School Classic” was held last Saturday at Beach 109 Street Park and was again met with terrific weather, an excellent turnout of current and former Rockaway residents, some great basketball by the younger generation, a few good moves by the older crowd and a terrific day of all-around fun and sun on the blacktop.

The day, originally conceived by Rockaway native and current Connecticut favorite Danny Sullivan, was designed to bring back families and friends of Rockaway in the hopes of reliving the spirit of our wonderful community: where laughter, camaraderie, family, tradition and basketball are integral parts of our shared history.

Each year we remember two great men who loved Rockaway and all that it represents, and we dedicate

Letters this day in their memories: “Big Joe” Burns and James Conway “Jimmy” Sullivan, two men whose love of life and community we recall fondly and often. This year we also honor the memory of a Rockaway son that left us too soon: Brendan McDonagh was a legendary hoops player, a wonderful brother, son, uncle and friend and his infectious laugh and inimitable style we remember in our hearts everyday.

In their memory, a day which a few years ago consisted of a single pick-up game between a handful of Rockaway expats has today evolved into a full day of five games involving guys and gals ranging in age from 5 to 50. The day kicked off with the kids game, a back-and-forth contest that saw the Blue squad, with Mikey McManus leading the charge, eking out a last-second victory over the Green team, led by high-scorer Joe Burns III, defensive stalwart Jackie Mitaritonna and the talented Jack Mullaly, to a 22-20 win. Close scores were the theme of the day as the teens game ended in a hard-fought 26-26 tie, with Greg and Jake Sullivan leading the way in another highly competitive contest.

The old-timers then took the court, and Game 1 saw expected favorite Team McManus outlast Team Mullaly 28-22, with Brian McDonagh and Kevin Maroney providing too much firepower. Game 2 was another nailbiter with Team Burns, led by the

Pride of Plymouth” player/coach Brian Fabry, twin towers Rob Melnyk and Bill Mitaritonna and complemented by outstanding wing play from Mike Gormley and K.C. O’Brien, ousting Team Sullivan 26-23 at the buzzer despite a tremendous effort from the Gibbons/Fulton inside/ outside combination. The championship game was then slightly anticlimactic as Rich McDonagh dominated the interior and with Marty McManus and “Pat Ice” Conlan, battling injury and making his longanticipated return to the Rockaway hoops circuit, leading the Blue squad to a 26-19 victory.

Spirits were kept high at the end of the day, with a large contingent then heading up to the Jameson’s on Beach 129 Street for some wonderful food, drink and revelry where toasts to great memories, friends, family and community lasted well into the evening.

The day was a tremendous success, with special thanks to Audrey Burns and Rosemary Sullivan for helping to create and cultivate this event; Jack O’Gara, a great man and Rockaway legend; to young Rosemary for her warmth and hospitality; to Barbara Friedman for helping out and to Mike

The Ref” Friedman, who along with legendary Rockaway referee Tom did an outstanding job; to John Mullaly for always helping spread the word; to Marty McManus for his tremendous generosity, and to everyone that at-tended and participated. Also, special thanks to John Murphy, Brian

Burns and Danny Sullivan, whose enthusiasm and energy is what the day is all about. We’ll see you on Saturday, August 6, 2011!


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