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Point of View: You Could Look It Up

Wed, 02/21/2024 - 15:51

As for the overwrought woman who wrote in recently to say that sports have transmogrified what was once a serene Herrick Park, it is interesting to note that the playground-park’s origins can be traced to a 1914 baseball game played on that property — then a cow pasture — by teams captained by Ferris Talmage, of Springs, and by George Eichhorn, of Amagansett.

Talmage and his high school friends, whose foul balls had been breaking too many windows behind the small school on Newtown Lane, had, Talmage told The Star in 1964, on the occasion of the Harriet F. Herrick Memorial Playground’s 50th anniversary, crossed the road, jumped the fence, and used cow dung for bases so that the East Hampton-Gansett game could be played. Midway through it, the farmer, Charles W. Edwards, came at them with a pitchfork, causing the teams to retreat to the school’s steps for a while, returning to finish the game after farmer Edwards took his cows home to milk.

Not long afterward, the school’s principal having been persuaded that the boys needed a place to play ball, and with the Ramblers, a women’s literary society with clout, on board, a playground was born, for young and old. You could look it up. The chief hope of its initial proprietor, the Neighborhood Association, was that the recreational and social activities would produce responsible citizens by keeping young people off the streets and away from “the beckoning saloons.”

The Herrick Park improvement committee of 1982, in a brochure proposing $212,000 in renovations, said that over the years the park had been home to the East Hampton Middle School’s physical education classes and its baseball, softball, field hockey, soccer, and tennis teams; to East Hampton Little League baseball and girls softball teams; to the town’s women’s slow-pitch softball league; to the Montauk Rugby Club; to the Wednesday evening 7-on-7 men’s soccer league; to flag football and Ultimate disc, and to the Boys Club’s summer camp. East Hampton High School football and baseball games were played there too before the high school on Long Lane was built.

I’ve been thrilled to see all of these sports played at Herrick during my sportswriting career here, and have thrilled at playing a few of them there — softball, soccer, tennis, and Ultimate. Even rugby. For one play. I was given the ball and ran like a rabbit.

I remember running around Herrick’s jogging track the night my mother-in-law died, and accepting her as my personal trainer. Handball courts were part of the 1982 committee’s plan, but weren’t built. And there was a wall near the Reutershan lot that you could use to practice your strokes. I wish they’d resurrect that, by the way. In other words, sports was pretty much the idea from the beginning, and has been for 110 years. Again, you could look it up.

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