What began as a traveling museum has transformed into a permanent home filled with exhibits to commemorate the greatest athletes in Suffolk County’s history.
The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, which first began inducting some of its more than 200 honorees in 1990, opened its Patchogue museum doors to the public for the first time in October 2008. Additional renovations are currently underway in the museum, a never-ending process of updating and expanding whenever funds become available. Ed Morris, the executive director of the Hall of Fame, said he expects the most recent work to be completed within the next two months, at which point the museum will be opened back up to the public. The Hall of Fame currently hosts field trips by appointment.
Among the updates will be new computer systems and a feature to the Hall’s Wall of Fame that greets visitors upon first entering the building. The Wall lists all the names of inductees and a visitor can dial up a name to hear a brief bio narrated by David Weiss of WALK-FM.
“Now there are four different monitors and you will see live action video on that inductee,” Morris said.
The Hall also produced a new video with money received from a grant from the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office to show kids in third to sixth grade. The video, called “Bullying and Violence in our Schools Today” contains advice from several of the Hall’s most notable athletes, including Buddy Harrelson and Marty Lyons.
Students will watch the video in the Hall’s 30-seat theater at the beginning of field trips.
“It’s not your typical generic government produced video you would get on drugs,” Morris said.
The Hall is also producing a video geared toward senior citizens, that features tips on exercising, preventing hip injuries and safety issues like protecting your home when on vacation.
Morris said the Hall donates tickets to senior citizen organizations throughout the county so they can tour the museum.
The Hall is currently accepting nominations for its next class of inductees. Eight athletes in the 20 Greatest series are members of the Hall of Fame.
The nomination period begins June 1 and ends Sept. 15. Nomination forms are available online as well as in Port Jeff Sporting Goods.
The Hall of Fame moved into its current home on South Ocean Avenue in 2000. It took a lot of renovation of the former North Fork Bank just to get the office space set up before the museum could be built.
The museum has been opened sparingly to the public on a regular basis and Morris hopes that will soon change. He said the goal is to open on a full-time basis and hire one or two staff members who can assist in tours.
As is always the case, it depends on money. The Hall relies on donations to sustain itself. And without those donations, it becomes harder and harder to stay updated and keep the museum open.
“It takes time,” Morris said. “We’re getting there little by little.”
Morris said he understands some people are frustrated when they stop by the museum at 1 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon and the building is closed. At this point, there’s not much they can do, he said.
“We’re very proud of [the museum],” he said, “but we need to show it off more.”
The Hall doesn’t just honor athletes. There are four major categories: professional athletes, amateur athletes, coaches and administrative, which includes people like sportswriters or former executive directors of Section XI.
For more information on the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, to nominate someone or to donate money, visit www.suffolksportshof.com.