Giants Of Westport

For Giants fans, this year’s Super Bowl is utopia. (Pats fans too. But this post is about the local New York New Jersey squad.)

Yet unless you’re a Tisch or a Mara, chances are your connection with your favorite team is a bit removed.

You’ll watch the big game on a big screen in your big, climate-controlled entertainment center.

You might wear NFL-branded logowear, bought at NFL-licensed retailers at NFL-mandated prices.

You may have gone to actual games at the new Xanadu-like stadium, where you paid usurious prices to sit in the stands, or enjoyed the expense account amenities of a corporate suite.

But the chances of actually getting near — let alone saying “Great game!” — to Eli Manning, Osi Umenyiora or even Prince Amukamara are about as good as Tim Tebow dissing God for favoring Tom Brady the other day.

It was not always that way.

Back in the mid-’60s, the Giants — like the rest of the NFL — were far less corporate. Sure, they were bigger than you and me (especially me), but they did actual human-being things.

Like pre-season training at Fairfield University.

That’s right. Every summer from 1961-69, the Giants ran their drills a mile or two up the road. Anyone could wander over and watch, standing almost on the sidelines. You’d mingle with the players and coaches as they walked back to campus, through the woods.

Occasionally you’d see them in town, at restaurants like the Arrow. And local watering holes — the less expensive, the better.

Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford, Del Shofner, Sam Huff, Stamford’s own Andy Robustelli — from September through June, they were the “New York Giants.”

But for a few weeks every mid-summer, they were our own.

That was super.

26 responses to “Giants Of Westport

  1. My Goodness those were very special days!! Just standing next to those guys, your heroes was incredible. Actually getting close to those men was certainly easier then than it is now, that is why the memories will always be there.

    Even more special because if the game wasn’t sold out at Yankee Stadium or the Yale Bowl, the games were blacked out.

    You listened on the radio or you tried to turn your tv antenna and rabbit ears to pick up channel 3 out of Hartford, and even if you did get a picture, you watched the game through what appeared to be a snow storm.

    You took those summer days, those meetings with your heroes and you relived those summer moments with every snap of the ball through out the season.

    GO GIANTS!!

    Thanks Dan, thanks for letting us think back to when we were kids again!!

    Tom

  2. You’re so right Dan. Those were good days to be a Giant fan. I still remain a fan(even living in NC) but wouldn’t think of going to a game. It’s much more comfortable in your own living room with a BIG TV. We used to see the ‘old’ Giants all over Westport back then.

    • The Panther’s stadium in Charlotte is great! And the street tailgates before and after(!) are lots of fun. Better than those in the swamps of Jersey. You should go.

      • The Dude Abides

        Bunch of drunks now at the NFL games. I last attended in the Astrodome when, after paying nearly 600 bucks for tickets for the family, I got to listen some idiot with a 3rd world brief case (boom box). Best seat is in my living room!!!

        • There are idiots on the field as well. Waste of time.

        • Dude – Watching movies is also better at home, but once in a while, you just gotta go to the theater!

          • The Dude Abides

            I disagree. Certain movies are actually better in the theater. But I was at the ’99 U.S. Open in Pinehurst when Stewart sank his winning putt. I was 8 rows back and couldn’t see anything. Last time. The tail gate parties have gotten way out of line at the NFL games. Half the crowd is smashed by game time. Been there, done that.

  3. Yes, I remember going over to Fairfield U for preseason practices after my family moved to CT. The players were very accessible.

    My dad had season tix to the Giants at Yankee Stadium when we lived in Queens but he gave them up after we moved to CT, in large part because we could finally get the home games on TV via channel 3 with the giant antenna (no pun intended) on our roof. We actually did get very good reception on our TV for the Giants games. I guess that giant antenna was that era’s version of the satellite dish.

    Tommy, I think all home games were blacked out at that time on local TV in NYC even when the Giants were selling out at Yankee Stadium.

    • The Dude Abides

      I think you get home games on a New Haven station if the reception was good?

      • Back then, I’m almost absolutely certain it was Channel 3 from Hartford that we watched the Giants’ home games on. CBS had the NFL TV contract and Ch 3 was a CBS affiliate. Channel 8 from New Haven was an ABC affiliate and, in May 1970, we got to see the Knicks win Game 7 for their first NBA title live on Ch 8 when it was blacked out on Channel 7 in NYC.

        • I meant to add that we turned down the TV sound and listened to Marv Albert on the radio while watching the second half.

          • The Dude Abides

            Good idea today as well instead of Troy & Buck or Moose/Little Albert. I don’t need someone to tell me what I just watched. Al & Chris are better though on NBC.

            • I loved Marty Glickman and Al DeRogatis on WNEW radio back in the day. No magic antennae in our house. No Giant home title games on TV then. Sat in the living room with my dad listening to Marty and DeRo on the console radio as our Giants lost to the Packers in Ice Bowl I in ’62 and to Baltimore in ’58. For regular season home games a transistor radio was in the front yard to entertain us as we raked leaves on our side of the street as our neighbor Dom Ciati raked on his side. Leaves were raked only between plays. By the fourth quarter long leaf piles burned in the street. The blinding smoke cloaked the three of us as we leaned on our rakes while the final minutes melted away and the Giants won another.

  4. They also used Fordham at Rose Hill in the Bronx because the Yankees tied up the stadium playing in almost every World Series.

    Rosy Greer and Brown were HUGE. They would come into the cafeteria and fill their trays with more food than a normal guy could eat in a week.

  5. Ann Bacharach

    Do I remember correctly a year when the players walked a picket line outside Fairfield University? And signed autographs?

    And I do remember the family friend who would climb up onto his three-story roof to rotate his antenna to Hartford and Channel 3.

    Good times.

  6. The Dude Abides

    I went every summer in the early 60’s. Remember one year when Sam Huff got in a fight with Rosey Grier (both defense so something was amiss) and the entire team went at it. It was a startling revelation to me, the pipsqueak. I think I took up soccer that year?

  7. Freddie,

    You are so right, old age I guess!!
    All Giant home games were blacked out within 60 miles of the Stadium.
    We were 47 miles away!!

    I remember friends of my Mom & Dad, and parents of friends from school that would go to motels just past the 60 mile line to watch the games. I can still remember the hotels having signs up saying Giants on TV every Sunday home game!!

    Ellen Sandhouse had a picture of her with Frank Gifford wearing number 53 up on facebook. They were very accessible, if you recognized them hiding in a different numbered jersey!!

    Loved going to the Arrow Restaurant during the summer and sitting in a booth next to three and four Giants!! Thank you to the Nistico’s!!!

    Where are those autographs now???

    Those were the days!!

    Best part for me right now is having a college team mate on the Giants sideline, Kevin Gilbride!!

    GO GIANTS!!!!

    Tom

  8. These are big people. Hatch Rosdahl lived four houses away on our street in the village where I grew up in Northern New Jersey. He was 6’4″ and 250 pounds. He filled a doorway, top to bottom and side to side. He played for the Bills and the Chiefs in the 1960s but was sidelined early in his career with a knee injury, the same as Joe Namath had. My mother and Hatch’s mother were friends. Mother baked her own bread and usually would give a loaf of fragrant freshly baked bread to Mrs. Rosdahl. Sometimes Hatch would be sent over to pick it up. If the windows were open during summer, he would smell the bread baking and just appear at the kitchen door ostensibly to say hello. Mother, unfailingly hospitable, would offer him coffee. It was not unusual for him to consume three 12-cup pots of coffee and two or three entire loaves of bread at one time often followed by cookies (or whatever was left). Eventually, I was sent to deliver a loaf of bread to Mrs. Rosdahl.

    Years later, the Giants were staying at the hotel where i worked. I had to deliver some news to them. It was not difficult to find them. I must tell you that standing there and talking with these men, I felt as if I was standing in a grove of giant sequoias.

  9. Elisabeth Keane

    Didn’t mean to be Anonymous but I got to thinking about Mother’s bread and forgot to sign my name.

  10. The connection between the Giants and Westport/theArrow goes way back and has extended into the present. Not only did Giants such as Rosey Brown, Dick Lynch, Jimmy Patton, Mickey Walker, Erich Barnes and others frequent the Arrow during their Fairfield U training camp stints they continued to do so for as long as the Arrow existed and then followed the Nisticos to Longshore and the Red Barn. Frank Nistico, who sons Tommy ’68 and Chich ’67 were my Staples teammates, was one of the three brothers — Lou and Joe were the other two — who owned and ran the above restaurants. Frank did tailgater radio interviews in the Giants Stadium parking lot on WNEW before all Giants home games until the end of his life a few years ago.

  11. why Oregon in 1958?
    seems like a strange departure from the regional norm.
    eAz

  12. Where do they practice now???

  13. SUNY Albany, I think, for pre-season.