Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers helps to save New York area youth from child predators

Rollie Fingers presents award at Greatest Save dinner
The world-renown golf courses at Bethpage attract thousands of enthusiasts each year looking to tackle one of the sport’s most ferocious challenges. On Monday May 20, a few hundred devotees gathered there to support a more pressing issue, educating youth about the dangers of child predators.

Headed by the efforts of KinderVision founder Doug Sebastian and national spokesperson, Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, The Greatest Save was able to make a profound impact on Long Island. All proceeds from the golf tournament and auction went back to local municipalities to further education and prevention programs.

Click here to read more about The Greatest Save's efforts in New York and its impact on the local area.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tony Oliva still on cloud nine about his baseball career

Legendary Minnesota Twins outfielder Tony Oliva recently made an appearance in New York City at a baseball card show. Oliva, who just had a statue dedicated to himself at Target Field on opening day, took some time to reflect on his 50 years with the organization.

Long after he has retired his glove and spikes, at age 72 Tony Oliva still dreams about his baseball career. Born in 1938 in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Oliva went on to achieve major league stardom after humble beginnings growing up on the farm. As a young man, Oliva simply desired to follow in the footsteps of the Cubans that preceded him and play baseball. He never thought he would have experienced this journey.

“I still dream about everything I achieved. I dream about my career, dream about playing baseball, meeting so many people, traveling so much,” Oliva said. “Coming from where I came from, a poor family working in the country, to being able to come here and meet so many wonderful people. I had a chance to touch so many people's lives, visiting churches, schools, hospitals, and retirement homes. I never dreamed this would happen. I didn't plan it this way, but this is the way the big chief wanted it.”

Just a few weeks ago, Oliva had another dream come true when the Minnesota Twins unveiled a statue of his likeness outside of Gate Six on opening day at Target Field.

“Can you believe that? It's in Gate #6, which was my number. I tell people, you never know, from the farm in Cuba to having a statue of you in front of the big league stadium. It’s unbelievable,” Oliva glowingly said during a recent appearance in New York City.

Returning to New York for the first time in many years brought back vivid memories of playing in the city for the eight-time All-Star.

“I love New York. I love to come here, to play here, the tradition here. I'll never forget my first home run here was over Mickey Mantle's head. The ball went inside the monuments,” Oliva recalled. “For me to come to New York, it was unique. There were so many Hispanic people here in New York. They used to come over in right field to say hello. Some would scream to me because I did good here in New York. It was nice to be a part of the history here and play in front of all of these people.”

Brought to legendary scout “Papa” Joe Cambria by Roberto Fernandez Tapanes in 1960, Oliva made the journey from Cuba through Mexico to the United States to make his debut with Class-D Wytheville of the Appalachian League in 1961. Oliva tore through the league, batting an astounding .410, and after hitting .350 at Class-A Charlotte the following season, he was summoned to the major leagues for a late September call-up. He played 15 seasons for the Twins, winning three batting titles in the American League in addition to his aforementioned eight All-Star appearances.

Now working as a special assistant for the team, 2011 marks the 50th year that Oliva has been involved in the Twins organization as a player, coach, and administrator. He is still amazed that he is with the same team he started with a half-century ago. He expressed gratitude for the Twins ownership of the opportunities that he has received.

“Mr. Griffith for me was part of the family, like a second father," he said. "He did something for me that I will never forget. When I finished playing as a regular, he called me in and told me, ‘I want you to be in the organization as long as you want. I want you to be my hitting coach. How much do you want to make?’” Griffth asked Oliva. “I knew how much the coaches were making; the coaches don't make nothing. I told him, 'Give me what you think is the right amount.'"

Oliva was more than satisfied with Griffith's response.

"He paid me well; he gave me twice what the coaches were making. I didn't have to ask or beg him for a job, he offered it to me. He told me I could work here as long as I wanted. I thought it was nice of him to call me in and give me almost a lifetime job.”

As one of the proud faces of the franchise, Oliva has embraced his role as an ambassador for the club.

“I didn't believe something like this would happen to me. I've been with the organization for 50 years. I was supposed to be here only six months, 50 years later, I'm still here. I enjoy it more every day.”

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fat Beats closing ceremonies: The end of an era

Outside Fat Beats during the closing ceremonies
This website is normally dedicated to baseball, but I feel as many of you have seen card shops close across the country that you would feel this one.

Labeled "The Last Stop for Hip Hop", Fat Beats served as the mecca for hip hop fans, DJ's and collectors. A legendary fixture in New York City on 6th Avenue, right near the famous West 4th Street basketball courts, hip hop "heads" would often gather to purchase the latest hip hop record and discuss who was next to blow up on the scene.

The inner walls of the store covered with autographed photos and posters of the many artists who graced the store during their record release celebrations. The names on the wall are too many to mention, but it reads like a "Who's Who" of hip hop. On any given day, you could run into a significant artist, DJ or producer who would stop by while they were in New York to see what was new in the "underground". If you wanted a hip hop 12" or CD by an artist large or small, chances are they had it. Customers would often come in with playlists from radio shows such as the Stretch and Bobbito Show or the Halftime Radio show and purchase every single record that was played on the airwaves. The fans demand it and they kept the fiends coming back every week for more. You better have acted quickly though because any record worth its salt didn't stay on the racks too long.

A look at the ceiling of Fat Beats
As digital forms of music began to dominate the market, trends saw a shift away from consumers, especially DJ's buying vinyl records. They now opted for MP3's which worked in their Serato programs that much more neatly held all of their music on a hard drive instead of bulky crates of records. CD sales tanked just as quickly as vinyl and Fat Beats felt the impact of a declining consumer base. Even though it managed to outlast such megastores as Tower Records, it couldn't continue to provide the services of a physical store with the decline in revenue.

This past week had an All-Star lineup of DJ's, MC's and producers performing to celebrate the institution that Fat Beats had become. I attended the closing ceremonies on Saturday September 4, 2010 that included performances by DJ Scratch of EPMD, DJ Spinna, Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul and DJ Premier of Gangstarr. It was fitting that Premier closed out the week-long celebration, as he epitomized the essence of hip hop and vinyl. DJ's across the country immersed themselves in vinyl due to his work and have their crates full of his productions.

DJ Premier rocks the final set at Fat Beats
Its closing represented an end of an era. I had been shopping there since 1999 and I quickly relived the last 11 years of my involvement in radio, DJ'ing and the industry. No longer will there be a central place for "heads" to gather and discuss the culture, find out about local events and take a chance on spending $5 on that artist whose vinyl still remains a go-to record in your crates over a decade later. The chances of another place opening that represented the purity of a culture that roped in my generation to hip-hop is unlikely and it is for that I dedicate this post to Fat Beats. Fat Beats will still remain open online and continue to provide those who thirst for the music an opportunity to get their fix. I don't know how much the current generation will care about its closing, or pine for a hub to replace it, but for many who went through our era of experiencing hip hop emerge, this serves as a reminder that as much as we want to hold on to seasons of the past, the forces of nature will leave us behind as it writes its next chapter. Consider this one closed. RIP Fat Beats.

Caron Wheeler Performing Keep On Movin' At Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Caron Wheeler Singing Back To Life at Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.