Giants on the Subway

(New York – November, 1955)

     It was a perfect day for football. The two New York Giants who ducked their hulking heads hopping the Bronx train at 34th Street knew that. It would be bloody, bone-crushing. It was the Bears coming to town.

Al Donovan and Billy Macheski were linemen. They played both ways…offensive and defensive. As the signed autographs for little kids, they talked about the afternoon’s competition.

“I don’t like playing this team,” said Macheski. “Last year Lane bit off a piece of my earlobe after a recovered his fumble. Then later in the game Switzer kicked me when the ref wasn’t lookin’.”

“You’re a stitch!” laughed Donovan. “Who was it that was voted Mr. Doom at the team dinner last year? Wasn’t it something like Machewly…Macherny…oh, yes, Macheski!”

“That was for my performance on defense,” barked Macheski. “When I’m on offense I’m really quite polite. After I drive their helmets into the turf, I help them up. Rather gallant, I think. Before and after the game I tip my hat to the ladies, whether at home or away, and always send my mom a birthday card.”

“A virtual saint he is,” smiled Donovan. “The Polish prince himself! I’m just glad I don’t have to play against you on Sundays. Tuesday and Thursday practices are bad enough.”

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said about me, Al,” quipped Macheski rubbing away an imaginary tear.


A small boy in a Dodger hat toddled up to the two offering them a bite of his apple.

“Why sure, son,” said Donovan biting off a small piece from the uneaten side of the apple. “How about you, Billy?”

“Oh, I’m not hungry…”

“Have a bite of the kid’s apple,” said Donovan.

“Sure, Al,” frowned Macheski taking a small chomp.

The giant hauled the kid up onto his lap and asked him the particulars. He told him he lived in Brooklyn too. His young mother sat across the aisle beaming at the two bruins.

“Are you going to the game today, son?” asked Macheski.

“No, sir,” answered the kid. “We’re going to see my dad. He’s in jail.”

At that, the mother grimaced.

“Don’t bore these nice men with your stories, Billy,” she said.

“Billy, huh,” smiled Macheski. “We’re both Billies…”

The subway screeched to a halt and the mother and son got off the train. The kids waved good-bye and the monsters smiled back.

“The kid’s dad in jail, heh. That’s a corker. I remember getting thrown in jail back in 1950 after we beat California in the Rose Bowl.”

The subway rolled through Harlem, stopping at various points for passengers to enter and depart. Several of those recognized the two Giants and wished them well on the afternoon’s game.

“You’ll cream those Bears today,” said one man.

“You’ll smash ’em,” shouted two boys who tossed a football back and forth in their seats.

“I wonder if you could sign last week’s program for my daughter,” asked another rider who said she lived in Chelsea. “She’s a big fan of yours, Billy.”

The train reached the Bronx, just as an elderly fan completed his appraisal of the team’s chances for the remainder of the season.

“Almost there,” whispered Al to himself. “I’m glad I have tomorrow off. I’ll need it to soak this knee. Then I’ll take Saturday to go over the offense for next week’s game in Green Bay.”

“Oh, hell, we’re going up to that ice box? The $3,000 they pay me to play football just ain’t enough. Frostbite is worth $4,000 at least.”

“Yeah, and you’ve got two kids to send to college someday,” said Macheski.

“Why do you think I have a day jog down at the Brooklyn Ship Yards. Longshoremen are still paid better than the heroes of the gridiron,” said Donovan sarcastically, “besides they pay a pension.”

The train pulled up across from Yankee stadium and the two threw their spikes over their shoulders and departed.

“No matter how many games I play I still get butterflies,” said Macheski, “but I love it.”

“Sissy,” chided Donovan. “It’s a grand day for football.”

– Kashmir Horseshoe

Filed Under: Lifestyles at Risk

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