Barry ‘Sly’ Morrow Field
In 1974, Barry Morrow started a football league on this field to provide a healthy outlet for city kids in the neighborhood of Bushwick. For 32 years, he nurtured the league so that it grew and prospered. Today, following an extensive renovation of this field, Barry ‘Sly’ Morrow – as he was known – is remembered here for his enduring commitment to youth development through sports.
Barry Morrow grew up in Bushwick and graduated from Bushwick High School. He founded the Bushwick Football League in 1974 to help local children learn the fundamentals of sportsmanship and competitive sports. Teams from all five boroughs participated. The league took shape and soon became a catalyst for sports in the broader area of Brooklyn. Neighborhoods became closer through organized competition with each other.By 1984, the league involved teams from the entire borough of Brooklyn and was renamed the Brooklyn Football League.
Morrow, who worked for the United Parcel Service, guided the league with all of his remaining time and resources. He took a second job as a cab driver to defray the costs of operating the league. Winners did not go without trophies, or coats. By creating a network of players and teams, Morrow made competition a healthy part of sporting life, teaching life skills and bringing out the best in his players. In the face of the surrounding decay, Morrow saw sports as a way to alleviate urban blight and help people move on and up. Hundreds of children benefitted from the league he created. He continued in this work until his passing on Christmas Day 2006.
In 2006, the former asphalt field was renovated with state-of-the-art synthetic turf. The field now provides space for softball, soccer and volleyball. This recent renovation, which extends into the adjacent playground, has been due in large part to the generosity and persistent attention of Council Member Erik Martin Dilan who provided over $3 million in funds to restore the park. Now over 100 years old, the park begins to show a new life.
This renovated field is named in honor of Morrow’s life and dedication to the children of Bushwick. Morrow’s experience conveys the importance of preserving and respecting our public resources - in particular our local parks - as a part of the ongoing challenge of community renewal.