During the summers between 1978 and 1984, a merry band of Lacrosse Players from Northport, would pile into cars on Saturdays and Sundays, and travel to the Fields at the Cleveland Avenue School in Freeport, to play in the “Freeport Summer League”. For several of those summers (probably 1980-82), I was fortunate enough to part of this colorful collection of characters, who called themselves “The Diamond Dogs” (the Title of a David Bowie Song). To say that we had fun, would be a gross understatement. We had some terrific players and did more than hold our own against some outstanding competition. But win, lose or draw (there were no draws, that I can recall), The Diamond Dogs always had a great time!
Over the years, I have run into a handful of the Diamond Dogs here and there, usually at some Lacrosse Event. I have even had intermittent correspondence with a couple of the guys. Back in February, Ray Murray contacted me with the idea of a Diamond Dogs Reunion. Actually, it was more than an idea as there were a lot of specifics outlining an all day itinerary. Peter Schmitt was spearheading the efforts and the date was set for Saturday, April 30. Without hesitation I told Ray, that I was definitely in. And I was looking forward to it from that point on.
Well, this past Saturday was the day. We met up in Northport at Peter’s Parents’ house, for a Pre-Game Gathering. It was pretty great seeing so many of the guys (nearly 30 showed up), some of whom had come from far and wide (Florida, Rochester, Massachusetts). Many of us had not seen each other since those summer weekends down in Freeport. While the years have been kind to the Diamond Dogs in general, there were still times when we needed to ask who somebody was. I think we could have lingered there for hours, but there was a full itinerary ahead of us.
We made our way to Northport High School to watch the Northport Tigers take on the Patriots of Ward Melville in Boys Varsity Lacrosse. Aside from it being a big late season game between the top two teams in their Division, there was the historical context of the match up. Back in our time, Ward Melville was a perennial contender for the State Championship, where as Northport was above average but never on that level – and we had to play them twice a season. It was a beautiful day for a lacrosse game and the High School Campus was bustling with activity, as a Craft Fair was going on in the Front Parking Lot and the 20th Annual Louis Acompora Lacrosse Jamboree was just finishing up. The game itself was great. Both teams are highly skilled and loaded with talented players who will undoubtedly go on to play at some of the best college lacrosse programs in the nation. The level of play was very high and it was a pleasure to watch such a fine contest. It was even better, that the Tigers came away with a resounding 8 – 4 Victory!
After the game, we headed to Downtown Northport, where Peter had secured the American Legion Hall, for us to continue the day’s festivities. There was plenty of delicious food (from the Northport Deli) and drink (Sand City Brewing Co.), but it was the company, that was the highlight. There was lots of story telling and even more catching up, and it was awesome. After a couple of hours Peter turned on the Microphone and revealed that back when the Dogs were playing, he had been writing articles about the games. These articles were apparently published by the Standard Bearer of Local Newspapers, The Northport Observer. He went on to read a number of those articles, to the delight of all. As others took the microphone to share stories, it was at times, just hilarious!
As the end to our time at the Legion drew near, some of the guys began saying their goodbyes, but no “Irish Goodbyes” (I think). After a quick clean up, the remaining Old Timers took the short walk to The Sand City Brewing Company, for the final stop of the day. The visiting, reminiscing and hilarity continued there. I could have stayed forever, but it had been a long day of revelry and I had a game to coach the next day. It was already approaching my normal 10pm bedtime and my ride was on her way (Thank You Debi!). So, it was time for me to say my goodbyes, which were accompanied by pledges to stay in touch and hopefully, to do this again. It had been a great day from start to finish. I am grateful for the reunion, but even more grateful that I was able to be a part of The Diamond Dogs in the first place!