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25 Years Ago in Bonac Sports for March 14, 2024

Wed, 03/13/2024 - 06:06

March 18, 1999

As the Baltimore Orioles were wrangling over arrangements with the Cuban government and the United States State Department concerning an exhibition game with the Cuban National League in Havana that was scheduled for March 28, a group of East Hampton ballplayers was in Cuba for some grassroots diplomacy of its own.

Thirty members of the Maidstoners softball team, which gathers on seasonable Sundays at Maidstone Park in Springs for a game or two, some laughs, and a couple of beers, returned last week from Havana, where they played eight games over four days with Cuban teams, on neighborhood ball fields and at Havana University’s stadium.

The Maidstoners are an eclectic collection of East Enders, the latest in a protean group that has been meeting at the Maidstone Park diamond for more than 20 years.

. . . What began as a joke during a roast of players after a Maidstoner-sponsored charity tournament last fall became a combination madcap adventure and good will trip that inspired the East Hamptoners to donate softballs, bats, T-shirts, hats, cleats, and even long-cherished gloves to their fellow softball aficionados in Cuba.

. . . Peter Honerkamp, an owner of the Stephen Talkhouse bar and restaurant in Amagansett “is a maniac,” said Reg Cornelia, a friend of Mr. Honerkamp’s who has played ball with various Maidstoner incarnations for more than 15 years. “He turned a dysfunctional mob into a cultural exchange mechanism. This is his most inspired act of insanity yet.”

. . . At the close of play, both teams posed behind a banner the Maidstoners brought along. “The 40-Year Rain Delay Is Over,” it said, in English and Spanish, depicting Cuban and American flags. In anticipation of the first visit by a Major League team since the Brooklyn Dodgers played exhibition games in Havana just after Castro took charge, the Maidstoners had gotten there first.

“Everyone I’ve seen since I’ve been back is still on a high,” Honerkamp said on Monday. “I’m full of unrestrained joy. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to do something good, something unique.”

Each of the Cuban managers, he said, had told him “that this is a major thing.”

“We think this is the step that institutes better relations between our countries,” the Cubans had told him.

“We did something that was really fun,” Honerkamp added. “We did it together, we became better friends, we did a good thing.”


March 25 1999

The Montauk Rugby Club avenged itself in bigtime fashion here Saturday against the Landsdowne R.C. of the Bronx, which had the week before defeated the Sharks 20-10 in pool play of a tournament that Lansdowne played host to.

. . . The locals didn’t allow a point by the city side all day while marking up 45 points of their own. In all, Montauk tallied seven tries — rugby’s touchdown equivalents — and Brendan McGorisk made good on five conversion kicks from various angles and distances.

Among those scoring for Montauk that day were Danny Wetzel, Chris Carney, Jay Short, Paul Cleary, Craig Brierley, and Rob Balnis, who just got back from a 7s tournament in Fiji.

Eyeing an early-June opening of the East Hampton Town RECenter, Dennis Schleider, its director, provided a general idea this week of what the community can expect in fees, programs, and hours of operation.

Schleider, a former swim coach at St. John’s University who loves to ski, hike, bike, and surf, said that while no specific programs had been set yet, the RECenter would concentrate on four areas — aquatics, technology, fitness, and the performing arts.

. . . According to Schleider, a student swim club and a masters (over-18) swim club, both of which would compete, are ready to begin as soon as the center opens, and an East Hampton High School swim team could well be a reality next fall.

. . . A recent RECenter mailing soliciting donations noted that as of mid-February $3.4 million had been raised, leaving the East Hampton Youth Alliance $400,000 short of its goal, which it hopes to meet by May.


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