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The Last Home Game of the Regular Season September 2 is another brilliant day in a summer that has been filled with them. New York has a reputation for sticky, humid days, but, except for a few of those in the dog days of August, there’s been little rain or humidity . Most days, like this one, have been perfect for hanging around outside . Especially down here, on Nautilus Playground in the middle of the Coney Island Houses, where the breeze is never further away than the next laughing child. It’s a Sunday, but that doesn’t change the afternoon vibe around here, only some of the participants and the clothes they’re wearing. The spirited game du jour is again handball, as Anthony and a kid named Pepe are taking on Anthony Sr. and another younger kid whom I’ve never seen around. Pepe wears a shiny new watch, leading Anthony to joke with him: “You got the ice, man. That’s the ice.” When Anthony smiles and jokes, as he does with regularity, it only enhances what a healthy kid he is. The summer of playing outside has left his body fit and his skin tanned dark, and the Cyclones—not to mention his project’s burgeoning baseball and handball abilities—have given him plenty of reasons to smile. Mr. Otero is nearly as chipper as Junior this afternoon. A hard-working car mechanic who grew up in the project-dominated neighborhood of Red Hook, isolated from the bulk of Brooklyn by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Mr. Otero finds comfort in the oceanfront isolation of Coney Island. “I really don’t mind it here, except for the fact that there’s a little ◆ 149 ◆ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0 0 ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ too much drug activity and the cops don’t come around enough,” he says. “Like I told you before, if they ever turn these buildings into co-ops and I could afford to buy ours, I would.” All summer long, the Oteros have stuck to a company line about their big, new neighbor to the east—baseball. Anthony loves it and all other sports. James enjoys it. Mrs. Otero is an avowed Yankee lover and Mets’ hater who still refuses to visit KeySpan Park but who insists on watching every Yankee game when it comes on TV. Even though she hasn’t gone to the Park, Mrs. Otero still has feelings about the games. “It seems like it’s mainly white people at the games,” she says almost dismissively. The Oteros’ skin is about as dark as that of many Americans of Mediterranean ancestry, but this isn’t about skin color per se—it’s about an attitude: “I’ve heard some complaints that the people down here aren’t supportive, but it doesn’t seem like the team is for us.” There’s a black-owned clothing company based in Manhattan called FUBU, which is a shortened version of For Us By Us. Lots of kids in the Coney Island Houses sport FUBU gear, and the irony hits me all of a sudden. That mantra is not being lived up to by the Cyclones, though again, the politics that surround the team do not seem to faze Anthony. Today is the Brooklyn Cyclones’ regular-season home finale, and nothing could seem more obvious to Anthony, James, Anthony De Los Santos, and Josimar than to head over to the stadium. An added bonus on this day is that Anthony’s dad, by far the least interested in baseball of anyone in the family, is coming along. “My dad is coming with us today,” says Anthony, who hasn’t had any cousins or anyone else visit that he could bring to a game for the first time. “I can’t wait for him to see what it’s like inside the stadium.” Scanning the playground, crowded with young black and Latino kids scurrying around, I also notice a couple of Starbury t-shirts, though I wonder how long these will be en vogue. Earlier this summer, there was a shocking NBA trade—the nearby New Jersey Nets traded Marbury to the Phoenix Suns. It figures that Marbury, who is known for his impromptu visits back to his old stomping grounds, won’t be coming around these parts nearly as often any more. Besides FUBU and Starbury gear, I also ◆ 150 ◆ THE LAST HOME GAME notice, for...


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MARC Record
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