Every summer for more than three decades, in the third week of August, a men’s softball tournament has been held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350 on Montauk Highway in Quogue. Kenny Schmidt, the former owner of The Oak Tree Inn, once located on West Tiana Road in Hampton Bays, ran the tournament for all that time until two years ago, when he finally decided that he had enough.
With the decades-old tournament on the brink of extinction, local bar owner Joe Fellingham, with the help from friends Terry Beglane, Joe Folchetti, John Flood and Richie King, decided that they would keep the tournament going. They also decided to name the event after their longtime friend Tom Corrigan who died on July 4, 2011, at the age of 53, due to complications of leukemia.
Keeping true to form, the second annual Tom Corrigan Memorial Softball Tournament was held last week, on August 20 and 21, just a few miles away from Corrigan’s hometown of East Quogue.
The teams from Beach Dogs, Fellingham’s, Summer Activities of Hampton Bays and John Scott’s Surf Shack all reached the semifinals of the two-day tournament. John Scott’s edged Beach Dogs on a walk-off home run in the final inning to take the tournament crown. Championship and runner-up trophies were awarded, as well as a most valuable player and home run leader awards.
Corrigan and his wife, Colleen, moved their family from Middle Village, Queens, to the East End full-time in 2001, the same year he retired from the New York Police Department. Prior to that, Corrigan was working as the lead detective in the investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800, which exploded off the coast of East Moriches on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 people on board.
“A few years ago, when we started to run the tournament, Tom had just gotten sick,” said Fellingham, who owns Fellingham’s in Southampton Village. “He was a former New York City policeman, he owned Tom McBrien’s in Hampton Bays, so we decided to have the tournament in his name last year.”
Each team—there were 14 teams in this year’s tournament—paid an entry fee of $300. There was also a 50/50 raffle. Last year the funds went to scholarships at both Westhampton Beach High School and Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where Corrigan had attended school. This year, all the money raised will stay on the East End and benefit both the Westhampton Beach and Hampton Bays high schools. Fellingham said each school’s athletic director will decide on the types of scholarships to be awarded.
John Flood, who is from Williston Park, but had worked at Casey’s in Westhampton Beach for more than 20 years, has been connected with the tournament since its inception. He played the first 20 years and has coached the last 10 years or so.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger, and now the best players on Long Island and the city play in it,” he said. “It’s really for a great time. Everyone brings their families down. It’s something we all look forward to every year.”