After a season in exile from its home turf, the Baby Boomers (over 40) Basketball League took the SouthWest Community Center court Sunday, December 7, two weeks behind schedule. “We lost our home crowd,” league coordinator Ed Mitchell reflected on last season’s location, McChesney Park on the city’s north side. He attributed this year’s delay to negotiations on funding for the 17-week schedule. Unlike last year, when discussions about cash broke down, everyone involved wants to see the current seven teams balling Sundays as SWCC.
“We’re still working out the funding,” noted League co-coordinator Jesse Brantley, “but (SWCC Executive Director) Sharon Owens is the main one in making it happen.” Mitchell agreed on Owens’ support for keeping BBBL’s 17th season in the ‘hood.
This season’s opener displayed the Baby Boomers’ tradition of keeping it funky, as behind-the-back and no look passes proliferated, and Keith Rowser set up almost on the 3-point line to launch his free throws. Missing, however, key elements of the competition’s cultural expression, were the raucous crescendos boomed from the sound system of DJ Joe Parks during pre-game, half time and time outs, and the sumptuous soul spread from the kitchen of Marisha Heard.
Mitchell and Brantley vehemently promised the return of both for regular appearances.
Also missing was the presence of Howard Triche, a headliner at Corcoran High School and Syracuse University who logged time in the National Basketball Association. His impact on the BBBL over the past decade has been such that his teammates on the eight time champion Showtime (formerly Ballard Construction) have had to endure being known as “Howard ‘n them.” Speculation hovers that work obligations will limit Triche to alternate weeks playing this season.
Showtime’s line-up for the opener was also missing Pony Bullock, former Nottingham star who has retired from league play. But Bobby Chestnut, a standout at LeMoyne, is back for another run, as is Julius “Pops” Anderson, who has been announcing his retirement for the past three years. “This year it’s real,” he observed after Showtime’s opening loss to the B&B Lounge. “The wife said so.”
Anderson contributed continual hustle, scoring 20 points and bringing Showtime within three points with eleven seconds left in the game, but B&B converted foul shots to log a 68-63 victory. B&B also benefited from the presence of Lazarus Sims, former SU stalwart, who saw action as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, who scored 19.
Korin’s Cleaning Service beat Hairport Barbershop 55-44 in the day’s opening game. The All City Ballin’ Pharoahs beat International 51-40 in the afternoon’s finale.
The Baby Boomers are appealing for help in meeting the financial needs of staging the league this season. Contributions should be sent to Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, 401 South Avenue, Syracuse NY 13204, attention Ed Mitchell.