‘Family. School. Baseball.’ - Coach Michael S. McDermott Field officially dedicated in Kings Park
BY BOB DODA, News 12 Digital
The JV and varsity Kings Park baseball teams took the field on Saturday, each donning Superman shirts with the name “McDermott” on the back, for an intersquad game – the first on what will forever be known as “Coach Michael S. McDermott Field.”
Superintendent Dr. Timothy Eagen said it was a “long time in the making” after the dedication ceremony was delayed by the pandemic last year.
"How great it is that we are finally able to gather today, play or watch some baseball, and dedicate this field to Coach Michael S. McDermott,” he said.
McDermott was a beloved educator and coach in the Kings Park School District before he was killed by a drugged driver in St. James on July 14, 2019. He left behind his parents, wife, three young children and his four younger brothers – Tom, Dan, John and Steve.
John McDermott took the opportunity to announce the formation of the Michael McDermott Memorial Foundation, a 501c3 organization dedicated to raising money for an annual scholarship, renovations to the field, and those in need.
“We all say, ‘Be like Mike’ – and this foundation is our opportunity to do so. To live our lives in a way that would make Michael proud,” he said.
He also shared a story about his brother’s first career hit during a T-ball game. Apparently, he “smoked” a ball through the infield in what could have been a double or triple.
“Instead of running to first, he ran to third before cutting across the infield grass,” he said. “It went in the book as a single.”
The JV field at Kings Park High School was not always pristine. School board trustee Joe Bianco, a friend and co-worker of McDermott, remembered when it was just a “dirt infield with a bunch of rocks” in 2012.
“Unless it rained, then it was a lake for two or three days,” he said.
At that time, Coach McDermott was leading practices in left field. Games would be played on the varsity field. But steps were taken that year to make renovations and in March 2013, the JV field was ready to be put back into use.
“I remember being by the third base dugout and seeing Coach McDermott, and just the pride on his face…We knew we were turning this field over to the right person. Because the labor of love we had in building it came forth in him,” said Bianco.
Several months after McDermott’s death, a new round of renovations was made to the field, thanks to Kings Park Youth volunteers and his friends and family.
KPY Vice President Carol Passantino with Kings Park athletic officials. (Photo: Bob Doda)
Michael Shapiro, a Kings Park resident and past KPY president, tried his best to hold back tears when speaking about McDermott, who taught his boys physical education and coached them on the soccer and baseball fields.
"Let Coach McDermott's love and kindness never be forgotten. He will be remembered always, especially between these two foul lines."
Current KPY Vice President Carol Passantino repeated what McDermott’s motto was to his student-athletes: “Family. School. Baseball.”
“God bless the McDermott family. May you find peace, comfort and closure when you come onto this field,” she said.
After McDermott’s mother cut the ribbon on the field and the brothers threw out the ceremonial first pitches, it was time to play. The new scoreboard did its job, but the final score (6-3) didn’t seem to matter. There were hugs, laughter and encouragement coming from the dugouts, from the stands on the hill behind the foul lines and from the brothers, who served as base coaches and pinch hitters.
Declan Cumming, a senior pitcher for King Park, remembered his coach as a “good guy and mentor.”
“He’s probably the best coach I’ll ever have.”
Coach Michael S. McDermott Field at Kings Park High School (Photo: Bob Doda)