CB votes to honor ‘Scooter’

Members of Community Board (CB) 9 have voted to rename Smokey Oval Park after the late Yankee great and Richmond Hill native Phil Rizzuto.
The board voted on the proposal during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 11 at Villa Russo in Richmond Hill.
The proposal called for Smokey Oval Park, at 125th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill, to be renamed ‘Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Oval.’ Rizzuto, who died last month, grew up in Richmond Hill and played baseball at Richmond Hill High School.
Through a unanimous vote, the board voiced approval for the proposal.
“I’m very pleased that it worked out,” said CB 9 District Manager Maryann Carey. “What could be better than naming something in my district after the Scooter?”
The renaming is not a done deal yet, however - the proposal still must pass in the City Council.
“I hope we can get it through the system quickly,” Carey said. “It’s a process…it should really be a priority.”
This marks the first proposal to rename a Queens location after Rizzuto, though Carey said she is “sure there will be many.”
For the most part, locals agree that naming the park after the Scooter is a good idea, though some had their reservations.
“I’d rather they leave it alone,” said Dave, a lifelong Richmond Hill resident and Smokey Oval frequenter. “We’ve been here all our lives, and that’s the way it’s always been.”
Dave said he would prefer city leaders put effort into cleaning up the park rather than worrying about what name it should have.
Others, however, said they would welcome the change.
“Phil was a good guy and a great player,” said Sahib Mohamed, who has lived in Richmond Hill for 25 years. “According to the records, he’s one of the best players, and he was loved by a lot of people.”
“Being that he did as much as he did for his fans, he deserves at least a park named after him,” said Solomon Chinnery, who visits the park to work out about twice a week. “As long as I can still come here, it doesn’t matter what it’s called.”
Some agreed with the proposal, but not because of an appreciation for Rizzuto. For instance, Richmond Hill native Kamar Bacchus simply doesn’t like the current name.
“I don’t follow baseball, but I think they should change the name anyway,” said Bacchus. “Smokey is not a good name.”
Danny Dwarika agrees.
“I don’t really like the name now,” said Dwarika, of Richmond Hill. But, he acknowledged, “Rizzuto was a great guy - a legend.”
The vote is now in the hands of the City Council. There is no word yet on when the Council will vote.

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