Jim Nicoletti, who heads East Hampton High School’s Hall of Fame committee, announced the selection of the Hall’s second class at the athletic awards dinner on June 5 — a group that comprises 11 individual honorees, two coaches, and two championship teams.
The designees are to be formally inducted on homecoming day, Saturday, Oct. 12, at a ceremony following a breakfast in the high school’s cafeteria.
The athletes cited are John Gilmartin of the class of 1932; Mark Ryan Jr. of the class of ’35; Harry O’Rourke of the class of ’49; William Myrick of the class of ’68; Tony Gilliam of the class of ’78; Sandy Fleischman Richman of the class of ’79; Kim Hren of the class of ’85; Eric Kaufman of the class of ’87; Melanie Anderson of the class of ’97; Lara DeSanti Siska of the class of ’98, and Mylan Le, also of the class of ’98.
The coaches named to the Hall of Fame were Mike Burns and Richard Cooney Sr., “the one who really was responsible for extending the sports program here to what it is now,” according to Nicoletti.
The teams taken into the Hall were the 1976-77 Southeast Regional championship boys basketball team — effectively a state champion, for teams could advance no further than regional competition then — and the undefeated, once-tied 1965 football team that, according to Nicoletti, “had the greatest number of standout athletes on its 31-man roster than any team in East Hampton’s history. . . . They also won championships in baseball, wrestling, and basketball.”
To come under consideration for Hall of Fame selection athletes must be at least 10 years out of high school. Nicoletti said later that of the 60 nominees 30 were put on the official ballot considered by the 12-member selection committee, a list that was narrowed down to the above-mentioned 13.
Fleischman Richman played five of her six years of varsity tennis on the boys team, at number-one singles in her sophomore and junior years. In her senior year she played on the girls team and won the New York State championship, defeating her semifinal and final opponents 6-0, 6-0. An elbow injury when she was at the University of North Carolina prevented her from pursuing a professional career.
John Gilmartin, a triple-threat fullback on East Hampton’s 1932 team, was described by Norton (Bucket) Daniels in a 75th football anniversary publication printed in 1998 as “unquestionably East Hampton’s finest fullback, in addition to being a fine passer and, without doubt, one of the best punters in school history. His long, high spiraled punts were something to behold. One in particular, with a slight breeze behind it, carried close to 80 yards.”
A two-time all-Long Island nominee, Gilmartin won a football scholarship to Villanova.
Mark (Junie) Ryan, an all-county halfback, was, according to Daniels, “one of East Hampton’s better open-field runners.” He was the right halfback on Frank (Sprig) Gardner’s 6-1 team of 1934, considered one of East Hampton’s best.
“When Junie Ryan ran,” Daniels wrote, “he appeared to be galloping, with high-flying knees and vicious stiff-arms, which made it so difficult to bring him down.”
O’Rourke was a four-year varsity player for Fran Kiernan, and led the county in scoring in his senior year.
William Myrick was, in Nicoletti’s words, “a tremendous three-sport athlete who earned 11 varsity letters, in football, basketball, and baseball. Basketball was his first love, so he turned down a football scholarship to Syracuse so that he could play basketball at Stony Brook. He was that school’s first 1,000-point scorer.”
Nicoletti added that Myrick won the Murray Hantz award given to the football team’s most valuable player “two years in a row.”
In this writer’s account of the [Gary] Golden Years [1961-68] in the aforementioned 75th anniversary publication, Myrick’s 29-yard touchdown reception in the final minutes of the 1967 game clinched an 18-13 upset win over previously undefeated Southampton, a victory that brought the whole town out, according to Charlie Whitmore. “They were kissing and hugging the players. . . . East Hampton hadn’t beaten Southampton in 10 or so years.”
Likewise, said Nicoletti, Tony Gilliam “was a tremendous three-sport athlete [football, basketball, and baseball] who twice led the conference in scoring in football and was a two-time all-conference player. He was all-county in baseball, and started at guard on the championship boys basketball team of ’76-77.”
Kim Hren was all-county in three sports — softball, tennis, and volleyball — a rare achievement, and was an excellent Little League baseball player as well.
Eric Kaufman was a county wrestling champion at 112 pounds — East Hampton’s sole county titlist in the sport — and was the state runner-up. At Cornell, he was Ivy League wrestling’s rookie of the year before ending his competitive career. At East Hampton, he compiled a 105-12-1 career record, and went 32-2-1 in his senior year.
Melanie Anderson, a Paul Yuska award winner, earned 11 varsity letters, in field hockey, basketball, and softball. She was all-state in the latter sport, and played for Bloomsburg (Pa.) University in two Division II college world series. Lou Reale, her former coach, described her as “the best hitter I’ve ever seen.”
Mylan Le, who was all-state in field hockey and softball, and who was all-conference in basketball, played with Anderson on Bloomsburg’s two world series softball teams.
Lara DeSanti Siska played varsity field hockey and softball for four years here, and went on to play field hockey at Smith College.
Richard Cooney, a former athletic director whose 30-year career at East Hampton included 16 years as its head football coach — the 1981 team won a county championship — is credited, as aforesaid, with having brought East Hampton High sports into the modern era. The high school’s fields are named for him.
When Nicoletti announced at the awards dinner on June 5 that Mike Burns, also a former longtime teacher, coach, and athletic director — his boys track teams won nine league championships — had been named to the Hall of Fame, there was a resounding round of applause.
Having put in 33 years at East Hampton High, where he also helped coach football and boys lacrosse, Burns, though retired, is back, helping his son-in-law, Steve Redlus, who recently took over as head football coach from Bill Barbour Jr., condition the players.
The 1965 football team’s roster included Bill McDonald, a posthumous inductee last year, a high school all-American honorable mention who went on to be the captain at Vanderbilt, and the late Jim Miller, who went on to play semipro ball.
Others on that team were Myrick, Ronald Gilliam, Ken Clark, Steve Cary, John Geehreng, Doug Strong, Dave Brown, Lyman Babcock, Robert Sucsy, W. King, Dennis Walker, Rick Lawler, Mike Frood, Robert Keller, Tom Keller, Ray Bimson, Milton George, Kent Metz, Roy Cary, Robert Peters, Ronald Webb, Gary Green, John Henry Albert, Jim Brooks, F.J. Kiernan, Marvin Collins, Richard Lia, J. Strong, and Charles DeSanti.
The roster of the ’76-77 state-championship boys basketball team comprised Howard Wood (an inductee last year), Kenny Carter, Ed Petrie Jr., Tony Gilliam, Scott Rubenstein, Andy Fisher, Matthew Bennett, Anthony Allison, Jerome Jefferson, Randy Strong, and John Thompson.