It’s too bad Southampton turned down our athletic director’s proposal that it and East Hampton combine forces in football. It would have been fun to root for the Marinackers, perhaps under their lights on some Friday or Saturday nights.
It is said that the Mariners demurred because they didn’t want to lose their identity, nor did they want to move up from Division IV to the more atavistic Division III. East Hampton, faced with fielding a tiny squad of 20, was less narcissistic, more willing to mix with its ancient foes.
When, in 1967, the Bonackers came back to town after a rare win over Southampton, the streets, Charlie Whitmore remembers, were lined with cheering well-wishers, hailing the conquering heroes.
“. . . Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our clamdigger dead!”
That may be overstating the case just a bit, but still, like Harvard and Yale (my late stepfather periodically recalled, his brow knitting, as if it were exceedingly painful for him to remember, that I had been one of those who had lost in the 1962 Harvard-Yale squash match that Harvard had won 5-4), Michigan and Ohio State, Army and Navy, and — in fond bygone years — the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the Southampton-East Hampton football rivalry, dating to 1923, is venerable in its antipathy.
This was a chance to show the world, to light a candle in the darkness. If East Hampton and Southampton were to have beaten their swords into plowshares, perhaps it would have led to similar detentes elsewhere, even to universal disarmament ultimately. Who knows?
Having been told a few days before the official announcement that varsity football here was no more — at least for a while — I typed up what I intended to be a rough draft of the story, in anticipation of the news, a draft that I intended to peruse on paper following Monday’s meeting with our A.D., only to find on my return to the office Monday morning that — zap! — it had been put up as it was on our website for all the world to see. You can’t be too careful these days. Next time I have something I write printed out in the production room, I’ll append a caveat urging restraint until I sign off.
What would have happened if, on my arrival at the high school’s athletic office, Joe Vas had said, “It’s a miracle! After thinking it over some more, Southampton has decided to combine with us!”
I would have egg on my face then.
But it would have been great news.