Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn sports has its own rock

June 27, 2021 Andy Furman
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There was a Rock before actor  Dwayne Douglas Johnson was called “The Rock.”

His name was Eric (The Rock) Eisenberg, and yes, you can add his name to the Gil Fershtman-Lafayette High School basketball coaching tree.

“Rock” was a volunteer assistant on one of Fershtman’s great basketball teams – the team that made it to the 1975-76 PSAL semi-finals with a sparkling 19-1 record.

“That team was led by 6-8 Arthur (Stretch) Graham,” reminds PSAL advocate Richard Kosik. Graham later enrolled and performed at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

As for Rock, he went on to coach at FDR and Tilden. He had all-city Eric Johnson – the younger brother of the “Microwave,” Vinnie – at FDR. Eric went on to play at Nebraska.

At Tilden, Eisenberg coached All American point-guard Ed Cota in the mid ‘90s, who later starred at North Carolina under Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

Also under that Fershtman tree, we found yet another branch.

Michael J. Fox checks in via e-mail and reminds Scholastic Roundup  that he was head manager at Lafayette in 1964. He went on to coach the junior varsity basketball program at Wingate High – and taught journalism and English where he still resides, in Tucson, Arizona.

“I never coached there,” he says, “but I ran the high school scoreboard clocks at Santa Rita High School for basketball and football from 1979-2015.”

 

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Bob Hertzel writes for The Times West Virginian, and sent an e-mail to Scholastic Roundup after reading about his favorite – Al Ferrara – when Ferrara, aka The Bull, played one-season with the Reds in Cincinnati.

Hertzel was a Cincinnati writer and radio host at the time.

“He is one of my all-time favorites,” Hertzel said on social media. “We’d go to the track together (when he was with the Reds) – him, Pete (Rose) and me.

“He (Al) never bummed a cigarette from anyone – he smoked a lot then – but never had a match,” Hertzel recalled. “He gave me one of the best quotes ever, shortly after being traded from San Diego to the Reds. Fly ball to left field, very routine, only he circled and circled — came in and turned it into a diving catch.

“I asked him about how that happened after the game,” Hertzel continued, “and he responded: ‘What’d you expect for Angel Bravo, Willie Mays?”

Hertzel ended with: “Even more than Michael Jordan, he is the all-time Bull.”

Ferrara started his baseball at Brooklyn’s St. Athanasius grade school and was an All-City performer at Lafayette High before making his major-league debut with the Dodgers in 1963 He was a member of two World Championship teams with them, 1963 and 1965.

A Los Angeles Dodgers baseball card for Al Ferrara. Wikimedia public domain photo

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Speaking of Ferrara, Alan (Oogie) Eganthal chimes in from Florida after reading the piece on The Bull in the Brooklyn Eagle.

“We lived on the same block – East 2nd Street — as kids,” said Eganthal, who coached basketball at Richmond Hill High School. “Of course,” he adds, “he was older, but we knew of his prowess and stickball power as well.”

Howard Kellman, the Sheepshead Bay High grad who has called games for the Indianapolis Indians minor-league baseball team, has a daily twitter feed that any baseball fan would love to follow.

His most recent tweets: Carl Erskine, the former Brooklyn Dodger now a prime 96, threw the first of his two no-hitters 69 years ago this month – the date – June 19, 1952. In fact, of the seven no-hitters thrown in the National League in the 1950s, two were thrown by Erskine.

Want more? On that same June 19 date, former major leaguer Bob Aspromonte celebrated his 83rd birthday.

Aspromonte is one of 11 major-league players to graduate from Lafayette High School – Sandy Koufax, John Franco, Pete Falcone – and who can forget that The Bull (Al Ferrara) is among the group?

Kellman graduated Brooklyn College and called St. John’s University basketball on radio during his senior semester.

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Congrats are in order for John Thomas. He graduated from Middle School 442 this month, and will attend FDR High School in the fall.

He’s a great young man, says his dad, and of course we’re very proud of him. “In addition to being a fine student, he shows kindness an empathy towards others in which we hold very important with our family values,” dad Glenn wrote on social media. And adds: “We love you John.”

Dad Glenn is the varsity basketball coach at FDR.

Former journalist – he wrote sports for the Brooklyn Eagle –Arthur Solomon writes: “The National League pitchers should give part of their salary to the Mets hitters. They make bad pitchers look good and good pitchers look great.”

Solomon was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs.

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected]. Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR


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