Members of the Bridgehampton community, both young and old, gathered at the Bridgehampton School on Wednesday night to celebrate the inaugural class inducted into the Bridgehampton Hall of Fame.
Carl Yastrzemski, William DePetris, Bill Stavropoulos, Sandy McFarland, and John Niles were honored for their contributions to the school and community and the legacy of excellence they left behind, both in athletic pursuits as well as off the field and courts.
Niles, the former boys basketball coach, was honored posthumously as he died last year. Two of his children, sons Joe and Jay Niles, were on hand to accept the honor on his behalf. McFarland, who made a name for herself as a track and field standout and is now a school principal in North Carolina, was not in attendance but sent a video with comments and thanks for the distinction. And despite speculation that he might attend, Yastrzemski, the most famous Bridgie alum, did not make the trip back to his hometown from his current home in Boston.
Stavropoulos (Class of 1961) was the first honoree on stage Wednesday night. He was a four-year letterman in football, basketball and baseball, but it’s what he did after graduating both high school and college that has earned him the most acclaim. After graduating from Fordham University and then getting his Phd. from Washington University, Stavropoulos went on to become the CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, where he had a successful career before retiring in 2006.
DePetris (Class of 1956) who was the crowd pleaser of the night, was recalled as much for his outsize personality and shenanigans as an energetic student as he was for his athletic achievements. DePetris was also a standout three-sport athlete, who was the captain of the football team, surpassed the 1,000-point scoring plateau in his hoops career—he quipped during the ceremony that if the three-point line had existed when he played, he “would’ve scored another 1,000”—and tossed three no-hitters during his baseball career. He continued to be a fixture in the Bridgehampton community, especially for people with children, as he coached various youth sports and also owned a popular restaurant in town where he spread generosity to the children he coached and their parents. Longtime Killer Bees boys basketball head coach Carl Johnson spoke about DePetris and the influence he had on him as a coach, particularly when Johnson moved to Bridgehampton from North Carolina and initially felt like an outsider. Johnson fondly remembered his days playing on Brigehampton’s Little League teams with DePetris as head coach, and how DePetris did his best to instill a solid work ethic in all his players.
Next came the Niles brothers, and Jay Niles spoke extensively—and at times, with emotion—about his father and the special place he had in the community as the boys hoops coach from 1971 to 1991. Coach Niles and his wife, Nancy, were remembered for opening their home to the many students and players on the team, and Jay Niles recalled how many of those players—including Carl Johnson—he considered “brothers” during that time. Niles led the Killer Bees to two of the program’s nine state championships (1984-85 and 1985-86) along with many league, Suffolk, and Long Island Class D titles.
Former Bridgehampton Athletic Director Maryanne Jules was on hand to speak about McFarland (Class of 1992), a track and field standout who was a county champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dash races as part of East Hampton High School’s team in the 1991. McFarland went on to more success as a member of Division I Syracuse University’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams, where she still holds the outdoor record in the 400-meter dash. She earned her masters degree from Florida Atlantic University and is now the principal at W.R. Odell Elementary School in North Carolina.
The most famous honoree, of course, was Yastrzemski (Class of 1957). Stavropoulos stayed on stage after receiving his plaque to speak about his old schoolmate, who went from humble beginnings at tiny Bridgehampton High School to become one of the most successful and famous Major League Baseball players of all time. While at Bridgehampton, he played football, basketball and baseball, and had a career batting average of .512. He went on to Notre Dame University on a full scholarship for baseball and basketball, and while he left after two years to pursue his professional career with the Boston Red Sox, he eventually finished his school work and earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, at the urging of his mother, Hattie. Yastrzemski played with the Red Sox for 23 years, becoming the first Major Leaguer to record 400 homers and 3,000 hits. He won the American League Triple Crown and was named the AL Most Valuable Player in 1967, was a seven-time Gold Glove winner and an 18-time All-Star. He retired after the 1983 season and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 1989.