Feb 15 2019

Huntington Honors Hall of Fame Inductees

During early February, I was honored to participate in the dedication of the third satellite exhibit created by the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame. The first two offsite exhibits are located at Long Island MacArthur Airport and at Bethpage Ballpark. This new exhibit is in the west wing at Huntington Town Hall.

The exhibit pays tribute to the inductees of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame who have a connection to the Town of Huntington as players, coaches, or residents. The photo of each inductee appears in the exhibit.

The celebrated professional athletes who are town representatives in the Hall of Fame are football’s Emerson Boozer and Wesley Walker, boxing’s Gerry Cooney, hockey’s Clark Gillies, basketball’s Tom Gugliotta and soccer’s Sara Whalen.

Other Town of Huntington honorees in the Hall of Fame are Stephen Bowen, Charles Boccia, Don Buckley, Jill Byers, Fred Cambria, Rich Castellano, Tony Cerullo, Bob Chipman, Tom Combs, Bill Edwards, Ray Enners, Melvin Fowler, Fred Fusaro, Lou Giani, Frank Gugliotta, Tom Gugliotta, Kim Gwydir, Bob Herzog, Bill Ketcham, John Nitti, Ed Norton, Carol Rose, Cathy Vayianos and Ann Marie Wyckoff-Bagshaw.

As a 2014 inductee, I am very appreciative and excited to be included in this wonderful new exhibit and I extend my thanks to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame and its director Chris Vaccaro and to Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci and the Town of Huntington. I am appreciative for the recognition of my high school and college athletic career along with my business and philanthropic contributions to Long Island.

It is a wonderful honor to be featured in an exhibit that places the spotlight on so many talented local people, including American hero and fellow Half Hollow Hills alumnus Lt. Raymond J. Enners, who are connected to amateur and professional athletics.

Nov 17 2016

Heart Of Gray – The Story Of Lt. Raymond Enners

During early October, a number of us gathered at the Garden City Hotel to meet Richard Enners. Richard is the younger brother of Raymond Enners, a West Point graduate who was among the fallen in Vietnam.

Richard recently published Heart of Gray, a book about selflessness and sacrifice. The story takes us on a journey that reveals how West Point and its values of “Duty, Honor, Country” influenced Ray Enners. The book places a spotlight on the rigorous training that provided Ray with the confidence and courage to face life-threatening situations.

Ray Enners played lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills before the district and the high school were divided into east and west sections. He continued to excel at the game at the United States Military Academy. During his senior year, Ray was named an NCAA All-American. Slightly more than a year later, Ray was killed in action in Vietnam. On September 18, 1968, demonstrating selflessness and leadership, Ray rescued a wounded soldier and then led an assault on an enemy position that cost him his life.

As many of you know, I received the 1977 Lt. Ray Enners Award as a lacrosse player at Half Hollow Hills. Presented by the Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association, the award is presented to an outstanding county high school player who best exemplifies courage, teamwork, skill and leadership. While I remember the moment when I learned that I would receive this award in memory of Lt. Raymond Enners, I am unable even today to completely explain the honor that I felt then and feel now for the opportunity to follow in Ray’s footsteps.

Another honor named for Ray, the Lt. Raymond Enners Award, is provided annually on the college level to the NCAA’s most outstanding player in men’s college lacrosse. My nephew, Rob Pannell, won the award twice when he played at Cornell University. Our family is blessed to have such a strong connection to an American hero.

By now, you might be wondering about the word “gray” that appears in the title of Richard’s book. At West Point, the color gray is a symbol of pride and honor that dates back to the Battle of Chippewa during 1814 when a small American army defeated the British in Canada. It was from that battle that the secretary of war approved the color gray for the cadet uniforms at West Point. Ray Enners embraced this tradition during his time at the academy and during his brief service to our country.

Richard Enners followed his brother at West Point. He knows personally about the tradition cherished by the Long Gray Line and he, more than anyone, best knows the heart and spirit of Ray Enners. Richard’s book was written to honor his brother and to inspire others to live their lives with a purpose similar to that of Ray, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

To help Richard ensure that his brother’s contributions will continue to inspire others, I am providing a copy of Heart of Gray to all the public high school lacrosse coaches in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Copies of the book also will be provided to school administrators. The book also will be sent to the coaches and administrators in the Catholic High School Lacrosse League.

My hope is that everyone who reads Heart of Gray will share with others the ideals cherished by Lt. Raymond Enners.

Jun 16 2015

Legacies Easily Can Take A Huge Hit

Tom Brady is a four-time Super Bowl champion. He is a three-time Super Bowl MVP. He is a two-time NFL MVP. He is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. He also is a liar and a cheat.

That’s what will be written about him and said about him until the end of time. Similar references permanently have attached themselves to Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Alex Rodriguez and others. They all have denied wrongdoing. They all have agents, supporters and fans who back them. None of it will matter.

In our age of the internet, blogs, YouTube, Twitter and more, the liar and cheater tags already are synonymous with their names. The stigma never will be removed.

When I hear about the large number of recent sports scandals, I often think about poor Shoeless Joe Jackson. He stands pretty much alone among athletes involved in any of the older scandals, remaining infamously connected with and the prominent face of baseball’s 1919 Black Sox Scandal. Though the evidence against Jackson is slim at best, his association with the tainted World Series has, for almost 100 years, outweighed his record as an excellent ballplayer.

During his playing days, Jackson only had to deal with the articles about the scandal that appeared in newspapers, and he still found it difficult to restore his reputation during his lifetime. Athletes involved with the dark side of today’s games face daily viral bombardment. They never will clear their names. Their legacies are beyond recovery.

When we were kids, many of us played fantasy games in the backyard. We created our own rules and we changed them at will so we could dream about hitting that World Series home run or scoring the winning goal. That was okay. What isn’t acceptable is “Deflategate,” the use of performance enhancement drugs and the skirting of the rules that has infiltrated some of our youth leagues across the country.

For the rest of us, we easily can find ways to lie and cheat in our jobs and in the companies we manage. If we choose that path, our integrities and our legacies certainly will suffer at some unforeseen time. Whether we are involved with sports or business, we all have choices to make, and I’ll leave you with one piece of advice to ponder—think seriously before you decide upon any course of action and make sure the result will not inflict damage to your reputation and legacy. It is not worth embarrassing yourself, your colleagues and, most important, your family until the end of time.

- Jim

Mar 03 2014

Legendary Broadcaster Recalls His Schoolboy Days

“Although this sounds corny, it’s true: I was born in the Bronx, and my mother actually wheeled me in a carriage on the campus [of Fordham University]. “That was years ago. Little did I know, or she, that God would be so kind as to allow me to get into the Prep.”

Vin Scully, legendary broadcaster for the Brooklyn and now Los Angeles Dodgers, uttered these words a few months ago when he was honored by his alma mater for his achievements in his professional field and for the many years of support for his school.

Following graduation from Fordham Preparatory School, Scully served in the U.S. Navy. When he returned home, he quickly enrolled at the university and he became involved in the beginning stages of FM radio in New York. At the school’s radio station, Scully honed his broadcasting style by calling Fordham baseball, basketball and football games. A month before his 1949 graduation, he landed a job with a CBS Radio station in Washington, D.C. Soon after, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

When he was a student, Scully also played two seasons on the university baseball team. He was Fordham’s center fielder in one game against Yale. The first baseman during that game was George Herbert Walker Bush. Fordham lost and both Bush and Scully went hitless.

“Years later,” Scully said at the award presentation, “I’m playing golf with the president, and we eventually got to talking about the game. I said to him, ‘Mr. President, as long as you’re in office, you can say anything you want about your baseball career (he was captain of the team). But remember, the day you walk out of the White House, we both went 0 for 3.’”

Only Vin Scully could say that to a president of the United States! I would have enjoyed playing in that foursome to hear Scully’s lyrical delivery of that line, gauge the president’s reaction and then enjoy what no doubt had to be a hardy laugh. I wouldn’t be surprised if President Bush often repeats that story. After all, he received a personalized oral box score report from a baseball broadcasting legend.

While Scully has met the cream of the crop in sports, broadcasting, politics and entertainment since he left Fordham, one story that he told at the Fordham gathering tells us so much more about the man—the kid in the stroller, the high school and college student at Fordham, the service veteran and the friendly professional broadcaster. His story began by remembering a day at the prep school when he sat in the auditorium next to classmate Larry Miggins.

“We were talking about what we hoped to do when we finished school,” said Scully. “Larry said I’d love to be a major league ballplayer, and I said I’d love to be a major league broadcaster. And we both kind of chuckled.”

Years later, on May 13, 1952, Scully was behind the microphone in the broadcast booth at Ebbets Field. Miggins approached the plate to bat for the Cardinals.

“It was so hard to speak. The Dodgers had a left-handed pitcher named Preacher Roe from Ash Flat, Arkansas. Preacher Roe was going to face my buddy Larry Miggins, and I’m going to describe whatever happens,” added Scully. “And Larry Miggins hit a home run!

“You can imagine what an emotional moment it was. First, the shock that the ball was going to go so far, then the realization that it’s a home run and I have to talk about him running around, and it hits me—that back row in the auditorium at Fordham Prep. Somehow it all came to pass.”

Jim