A Hall of Fame coaching career began in Greenport

06/03/2010 12:00 AM |

When he was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s Long Island High School Hall of Fame, Herb Goldsmith said that the reason why he wanted to coach the Southampton High School football team was because of how tough the Mariners were when they played his Greenport Porters.

Goldsmith, 87, grew up in Cutchogue and went to Greenport High School, where he graduated in 1942 with 15 varsity letters. He then enlisted in the Navy and did not make it back to Long Island for close to a decade.

After one-year pit stops coaching in Riverhead and then in Amityville, Goldsmith landed at Southampton in 1955. He did not leave until he decided to retire nearly 30 years ago. And while he has not spent much time in the building since the early 1980s, he is still a dominant presence.

“To the people who talk about him here, he’s an icon,” Southampton Athletic Director Darren Phillips said. “He’s a legend.”

The accomplishments for which he earned his Hall of Fame plaque came on the football field where, as the Mariners’ coach for 24 years, from 1955 to 1978, Goldsmith compiled a 130-50-8 record. That included 13 league titles and four undefeated seasons.

“I don’t think he ever got caught up in the winning and losing,” Phillips said. “I think he was more proud of getting some of the kids who were here who were disadvantaged, getting them scholarships or helping them out and making them outstanding young men.”

Goldsmith did plenty else during his years at Southampton. He started the school’s lacrosse program. He coached wrestling as well as baseball, winning two division championships in three years. Goldsmith also taught physical education and was the school’s athletic director for 15 years.

“The old-timers and guys who played for him talk about him in such high regard and how much they loved him and would do anything for him,” Phillips said. “That’s certainly the kind of person he is.”

Before the December Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Goldsmith made it clear he did not expect anyone to show up in support. The tickets cost $65, Phillips said, and Goldsmith thought that was asking too much.

“But a lot of former players showed up,” Phillips said. “He was excited to see them. He has really meant so much to the school and football program.”

Goldsmith gave his award to the school and asked Phillips to place an inscribed plaque next to it, which reads: “To all the Southampton players, coaches and fans, thank you. Herb Goldsmith.”

Phillips said the school board honored Goldsmith at a board meeting earlier this year, but that the administration wanted to do something more for him. Their idea was an evening spent as a tribute to, and roast of, Goldsmith on June 11 at Tim Burke’s in Southampton. Phillips said he liked the idea of bringing together for a night those Goldsmith coached and coached against and those who rooted for and against him.

“It’s amazing what he’s contributed,” Phillips said.

For further information about the tribute, call Darren Phillips in the Southampton athletic office at 631-591-4614.