Wingate Park

Reginald A. Nero Courts

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Reginald A. Nero (1920-2010), an Assistant Gardener at Wingate Park for 34 years, contributed to the life of the park and community in ways that won him the title ‘Commissioner of Wingate Park’ to those that knew him. Born and raised in Harlem, Nero came of age during the Depression. After a period in the Army and Merchant Marines, he moved to Brooklyn. There, in his position as Parks’ gardener, he drew people to his park and created numerous memorable tournaments that brought together thousands of participants and spectators. In 2001, Nero was featured in an exhibit of New York’s unsung heroes, for “choosing to participate” as a way of life.

In 1942, at the age of 22, he enlisted in the United States Army where he volunteered as a boxing team instructor, and organized entertainment for the troops. In 1947 he served in the Merchant Marines where he served as a sports’ instructor. When he returned home, he continued to organize sports groups for all levels and types of players. He coached basketball and softball teams for brokerage firms, the YMCA and Hudson Avenue Boys Club. He soon became a commissioner of the Brooklyn Softball League which comprised over 1,800 members.

His chosen profession, as sports instructor and ‘life coach’, continued throughout his life. He coached basketball for boys and girls, boxing, baseball, softball, track and field, weight lifting, handball, body building and horseback riding. In the 1970’s, he began to organize tournaments, including some events that were held at Ebbets Field Park, once a major league baseball field in Flatbush.

Nero’s tournaments at Wingate Park drew numerous players and sports lovers, including a wide array of sports legends such as Stuart Granger of the New York Knicks and Mike Mosley from Buffalo State University. He also organized civil service tournaments, drawing people from a host of city agencies -- the MTA, FDNY, Sanitation, NYPD, Corrections and Parks. These tournaments among city employees were possibly the first of their kind. He also organized numerous tournaments in the ‘80’s amongst younger players – in basketball, double dutch and paddle ball.

In March of 2010, Reggie Nero passed at the age of 90, after a long and fulfilling life. In an interview with “Park News” in 1983, Nero said “I wish I could do it all over again”. He will be remembered at these courts for always choosing to participate in life.

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