New York isn't New York any more," said the man in the center of the group that stood at the railing and looked down into the great excavation across the street from the Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center. "It's all part of a trend, all part of the decline and fall that's set in. Look what they've done here. They've torn down their finest sporting saloon. And for what?"
A man in a Burberry coat spoke up. "It's all done in the name of progress, sir."
The first speaker nodded. "That's what I mean," he said. "There's no respect for tradition. The Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field go next. Then we'll be down to one ball park. We're being turned into a second-rate town."
The speaker himself obviously had seen better days. His camel's-hair coat was worn and in desperate need of a dry cleaning. His Tyrolean hat was shapeless and faded and the brush was missing from it altogether. The attach� case he carried was battered and weather-stained. Yet because he was uniformed (however shabbily) in the approved New York manner, there was a certain air of sophistication about him.
"Just consider, gentlemen," he went on, "first they steal away two of our ball clubs, and the world championship flag that should be flying over Ebbets Field in Brooklyn has been run up the flagpole in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Next year, the word is that the Giants—our Giants, mind you—will cop the National League pennant for San Francisco. What are we left with? One ball club and a third-place one at that."
"That's just a temporary state of affairs, mister," an old man said. "The Yankees will come back strong next year, and we'll have a new ball club in that Continental League. That was announced by one of the big television sportscasters in his predictions for 1960."
The man in the camel's-hair coat looked at him and groaned. "A third league," he said. "Bush. Strictly bush. That's my point. Everything's second-rate everywhere you turn."
A man in a leather jacket broke in. "I'll tell you where your argument falls down, pal," he said, turning and smirking at the others. "Ever hear of a football team called the Giants?"
The man in the Burberry laughed. "There's one for you, my friend. There's nothing second-rate about the Giants!"
The man in the camel's-hair coat glanced from one to the other. "Give me a cigarette," he ordered. Nobody offered him one. Finally the old man said, "I've got a long butt here if you're not finicky."