Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Hand Jive

You'll like this—Peter Duffy's 2009 New York magazine story on handball:

The history of handball, the greatest of New York City street games, has not been written. Instead, its folk memory is passed on through the rich oral tradition of its glove- and eyegear-wearing practitioners. On the benches surrounding the Seaside Courts on Surf Avenue in Coney Island—handball’s holiest site—you can see them: the elder storytellers, the praise singers who transmit the heroic myths of their people. They tell of the colossus known as Vic Hershkowitz (a Brooklyn fireman who loomed during the forties and fifties), the relentless Steve Sandler (the sixties and seventies), and the spectral presence of Joe Garber, killed while flying a B-29 over Germany in World War II. “The same old conversations,” as one of them puts it. “The same old bullshit.”

“He saw Joe Garber play,” says Hank Grassi, a fit 83-year-old wearing a cap that reads #1 POPPY, pointing to an arriving Stu Fleischman.

“Joe Garber,” announces the crotchety Fleischman, his hand raised as if asking for quiet, “was like Joe DiMaggio.”

“How old are you?” I ask.

“What the hell do I give a shit?” he barks.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter