My Dad, Robert “Lefty” Gregory played on The Presto in the late 30’s early 40’s. His brother Willie Gregory played on the Madision Ave Flashers. Dad went on to play in the Winter Baseball Leagues in Puerto Rico with the San Juan Senators in 47. He returned to Manhattan the following season and went to an open try out for the NY Giants in the old Polo Grounds. He put four consecutive shots in center field which got him a trip to North Carolina to play for the Giants Farm Team. Those were rough days for people of color. I was about five or six and can remember sitting in the stands in center field. Those folks were pretty hostile. Dad was a quiet man and always avoided confrontation. He deceided then to give up his dream of a professional career and we all retuned to live in Brooklyn. Dad played stickball for Home Relief during this time and spent the rest of the decade playing in the great Puertorican baseball leagues in Central Park. Not sure of his team’s name, but I remember the word “GOYA” on his uniform. To say Dad played stickball or baseball at another level was an understatement. When I was about sixteen we were living in the upper Bronx, East Chester Projects. Dad came down one Saturday afternoon to join us while we were playing stickball. We thought we were really good. Dad got up, pointed to each of us in order and said, “This is yours”. Bam! a blur of a warped spaldine would be coming at you at mach 5. BAM! one more for the guy on 2nd and Bam! another for 3rd. My buddies would duck, jump out of the way. To damn hot to handle! For us in the out field he would pop them up so high they come down whistling and dancing the bugaloo! He would place them just where he wanted to, every time. It was a reality check for us young punks! I really miss my Dad and am glad to see this site giving these guys and their generation their due. I was shocked to find out that my Dad was inducted along with my uncle Willie into the hall of fame. This was in the seventies and he never told any of the family. I only found out about it this year when his good friend Hector Arroyo was inducted. That was my Dad! A very humble but unforgetable man.
Original author: bob gregory [e-mail]