There was a popular song by Jimmy Dean in the early 60s named "Big John." We had a "Big John" in our neighborhood: Johnny Polovoy. He wasn't six foot six. But he surely weighed 245. And it was all muscle.
One night Dennis Werner and I went to the ball field by 159th Street looking for the rest of our friends. We found Tony Induisi laying on the infield between home plate and the pitcher's mound. I should say we "heard" Tony. Johnny Polovoy was sitting on top of him. Tony was screaming bloody murder.
Dennis yelled, "leave him alone!"
Johnny just laughed and seemed to be contemplating which hand to hit Tony with first. He never got the chance. I pushed him off of Tony.
Johnny rolled over on his back and promptly passed out. He was so drunk I could have pushed him off Tony with one finger.
After I got home that night, my brother Joe gave me a look I had never seen before and said, "I heard you beat up Johnny Polovoy."
I didn't know what to say. I briefly basked in the glory of the new-found respect my older brother had for me. But then I got to thinking: Johnny is gonna want a rematch!
I stayed home for three days feigning the stomach ache I knew I would have after Johnny got through with me. Finally, I ventured outside. And who was the first person I ran into? Johnny Polovoy!
"Hail Mary, full of grace..." –– that's Catholic lingo for "Help me, Mary!"
My mind says "run!" But my feet won't move. Johnny draws closer to me.
"Our Father who art in heaven..." –– that's Catholic lingo for "Extreme Unction!"
I don't remember much after that. I may have pleaded for mercy, cried, begged, crawled –– I don't know.
But I know Johnny never laid a hand on me. He just smiled and walked right past me. I could have hugged him. But then he surely would have hit me! Big Bad John!