Cheesy Bruin’s Tribute to Lynn: How My Big Sister Got Me Hooked On Sports… and Winning

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MARLBORO, NY – As a younger sibling, one learns a lot by watching a brother and/or sister during athletic endeavors. I was lucky. I had both. I was willingly in tow whenever Joe (nine years my senior) and Lynn (five years older) had a baseball, basketball, volleyball or softball game. I also watched many a Dallas Cowboys game because of them and became a fan… although nowhere near the rabid degree of my sister.

Being a quick study, there were lessons learned each and every time in attendance. Some of these tutorials were a model of not just participating but on how to be competitive. In turn, winning was very important and it was never too late to rally. The three of us had the unspoken motto, Why play if you didn’t win? This was evident in everything from board games to card games to one-on-one basketball games on the concrete court. Needling each other during competition – and yes I always took the bait – made for some very sour moods and often ended with my otherwise silent father raising his voice with threatening wisdom.

Giving 100% of your talent and body became a tenet not just on the playing fields… but in life. Despite “white man’s disease” at an early age and elbow tendinitis, Lynn played through pain, as that competitive spirit always won out. There was very little down-time for her body to recover as every new season met a different sport. Not only did she play, but Lynn excelled at sports and anything else that she did in life… she even skipped a grade in Junior High.

Young Lou Pinella?

Even with a loquacious mother and a beaming father full of pride with how well their children performed in competition, being humble and letting others brag about your play was another lesson. No matter how extraordinarily well Lynn played, there was the utter disappointment over playing on some bad teams who didn’t win. Yet Lynn never carried on about her prowess and focused more on the losing and let spectators be the measuring stick on who could play.

How good was Lynn? Let me brag about her.  Your better athletes in any sport play the important positions and she was proof. She pitched windmill-style softball while at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx and was clocked at 79 miles per hour. On non-pitching days, shortstop is where Lynn would captain the infield with a display of great range and a whip of a throw, making the first baseman fearful in catching the ball. At the plate she could put a dimple in a clincher softball whether in high school or bar league play.

The bar leagues…

Future Bar League stars & Cheesy Bruin copping Jeff Burroughs look. (Standing, 2nd player in front left)

The Yankee Clipper in the Bronx and Garryowen’s in Manhattan were Lynn’s teams – often playing on both during the same season. In her late-20’s, Lynn opted to play for G.O.’s if the schedules conflicted because they were a winning team with some players having skill sets somewhat similar to my sister. Through the beauty of a doctored birth certificate, a 17-yearold Lynn was recruited by The Yankee Clipper to play in the 21 and over league.

As a family, we watched all the big fights during the golden age of the heavyweight division in the 1970’s. Lynn wasn’t a boxer, but man she could throw a punch, along with any type of ball rivaling those of a boy her age. Take a punch? She out-kicked her breast cancer diagnosis by two years with the same competitive spirit as if her lifespan were a game. She gave 100% in battling the Big C and her final days were no different. She opted to take her last breaths on the final NFL Sunday of the season in the New Year ’17… her uniform number, and an inconsequential game to her Dallas Cowboys. They would lose but there would be no telling her that it didn’t matter.

After six years with the disease, heaven has a new champion. Lynn Perlongo, 1962~2017.

Feel free to comment and please come back for DJ Eberle, tomorrow.

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About the Author ()

A man amongst men. Cheesy Bruin kicked cancer to the curb - twice. The Cheese Man's a big, tough teddy-bear who survived the Bronx despite being an unabashed Boston Bruins fan and Sargent-At-Arms for Angry Ward's Urban Spur Posse. Nuff said. Doctors have taken most of this throat and had to make him a new tongue from thigh-meat (his own) and still he won't shut up about the Bruins, Cowboys, Pirates and Cleveland Cavaliers. And yes, his kids do love him.
  • Great piece, Cheese Man. Lynn is smiling from above… Nary a dry eye in the MTM edit suite this morn… Please note that we included the pix of Cheesy Bruin – he didn’t simply post pix of himself. That would be… Cheesy.

    • GrindingAx

      You better keep your energy focused on Big Blow. I dream of a Giants- Cowboys match next week in the Jerry Dome!

      • No chance. The Cowboys are just too good to lose and the Giants are just awful…

        • GrindingAx

          Check your temperature.

        • Cheesybruin

          When you’re right, you’re right!

    • Cheesybruin

      Thanks for the assist today, Boss.
      Go Cowboys!!!

  • benwhit

    Condolences to you and yours Cheesy. Great tribute.

    • Cheesybruin

      Thank you, Ben.

  • benwhit

    Also, Ben Whitney will not be here until Tuesday.

  • AngryWard

    I knew Lynn. She was every bit as tenacious as the Cheeseman describes her. A ballbuster too, but in the best way. She was also a top-notch professional chef! This was an excellent tribute to her, brother.

    • Cheesybruin

      And yes, ballbusters run in the family…a long line of ’em in fact.
      And the cooking, oh, the cooking. I am the heir to all her hand-written recipes she garnered over the years and will share them with you if you so desire. Lynn was a big fan of yours even though you root for the Vikings.

  • GrindingAx

    Life is just too short. Cheese, your sister obviously fought a great fight and her fellow Cowboys fans will carry her passion for the star throughout these playoffs and the many that will come. When they put forth any good effort, we can all pay tribute to her memory. God Bless your sister, Lynn.

    • Cheesybruin

      Well put Walt and thanks.

  • Grote2Dmax

    As you said with Joe, she gave it the old Randy White try. She was something to see windmill pitching. 79 mph coming at you at that short of a distance was hard to pick up from behind the cage where I would watch her. I can’t imagine how it was to be in the batters box. Sorry so won’t get to see her again.

    P.S. Love the pic of us as All Stars for Kingsbridge Little League. I made a row of my own.

    • Cheesybruin

      I really learned so much from both of them. As you are well aware, the youngest of the family has more advantages if we took the time to absorb how these siblings went about life. And yes, you were in a league of your own at 3rd base and deserved your own row in that All-Star picture. A young and skinny Eddie Byrne top row.

      • Grote2Dmax

        Lots of 11 year olds on that team. Matty Donnelly might have been 10.

    • Grote2DMax making a cameo. Love it.

  • Buddy Diaz

    Great article, I feel for your loss but as I saw from my dad when he had cancer, they were fighters to the very end and you learn so much about people when you see them battle. It makes you proud of them in ways many won’t ever understand.

    Thank you for allowing people like me an inside into the type of person she was. My condolences to you and your family.

    • Cheesybruin

      Thanks Buddy. How we leave this world when battling an illness encompasses our life and is something I learned from Lynn’s final days as you did the same with your Dad. Both are in the fighters section in heaven for sure.

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