Rockaway Footnote To Dick McGuire’s Career
Your piece (March 11, 2011) on the Halligan-McGuire Irish American Good Guy Luncheon recalls another Rockaway footnote to Dick McGuire’s stellar career, which some of your older readers may fondly remember: Dick’s significant role on the St. Francis “Big Five.” Beginning in the late 1930s and continuing into the 1950s (maybe later) every Sunday evening at seven in the St. Francis gymnasium, this popular series attracted college and industrial teams from all over the metropolitan area and beyond (e.g. Niagara University and the O’Donnell Movers). The quality of the play was outstanding and the gym was packed with 300-400 fans. In addition to Dick and Al Mc- Guire (starring for St. John’s for some of the same years) standout players on the Big Five were Joe Murphy, Bud Schumm, Paul Esposito, Bill Ryan, Gene Mann, Jim Gallagher, Jack Raphael, Bill Hovel, George Klein and the enduring Normie Ochs who played for 15 years or so. Well known visitors included Bob Cousey, Carl Braun, Sherman White, Lefty Kraus, Sid Tannenbaum, and Jack Kelly. Under its Pastor, Msgr. J. Jerome Reddy, the parish benefited substantially from the success of the program, guided by the beloved Fr. Joseph Grogan. Bill Kiely, John McGuire, and Ed Gallagher are some coaches I recall. Those were memorable evenings in the history of the Rockaways.