Recently I was lucky to join an eighty-fifth birthday party in New York for Johnny Greco. His wife, Kathleen Sharkey, hosted a celebratory lunch at Il Corso, a great Italian restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Held the day after he turned eighty-five, this was a vintage gathering of the New York squash tribe, as you can see from the group photograph taken by Andreas Hofweber.
Johnny has a unique teaching professional resume of just Manhattan squash clubs: City Athletic Club, 1959-1962;University Club of New York, 1962-1978; Broad Street Squash Club, 1978-1982; Harvard Club of New York, 1982-1985; Park Place Squash Club, 1985-1988; Le Parker Meridien Hotel, 1985-1988; Colony Club, 2001-2008; and River Club, 2004-2008. (He also worked for years teaching tennis in Connecticut.) In 2017 he was honored with the Carter Fergusson Grand Master Award.
An inspiring poster child for resilience. Johnny was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, but he has continued to play squash, entering the National Singles eight times since the diagnosis, playing in dozens of local hardball and softball events and avidly attending pro tournaments (and giving advice to the players).
An inveterate storyteller, Johnny told great stories at the party about playing minor league baseball in Delaware, about exploits during the O’Reilly pro-am at the University Club and about how the Bigelow Cup, an iconic New York club trophy, mysteriously ended up residing for some time above the bar at Elaine’s.
(l-r) front row: Amy Bigerna, Grace Bigerna, Kathleen Sharkey, John Greco, Mary Todd, Nancy Brenner; second row: Stanley Stairs, Kit Tatum, Cindy Cosmi; third row: Courtney Fuller, Jay Nelson, Charles Maytays, John Cosmi; back row: Lior Grinberg, Scott Fuller, John Beaman, Ned Monaghan, Lance Mald, Jerry Todd, Richard Chin, Valerie Monaghan, Jim Rucinski, Paula Foley, Andrew Foley, Jim Zug.