The festivities at the 2019 Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday night had to be temporarily halted when one of the inductees, Bill Kropp, suffered a health episode and had to be taken to the hospital.
Kropp, who coached Sachem to more than 500 volleyball wins and who founded the three-year-old program at St. Joseph’s College, was taken by ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital. According to Chris Vaccaro, the executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, Kropp was conscious and responsive at the emergency room.
The ceremonies did resume after approximately 45 minutes.
The evening began with legendary broadcaster Bob Costas’ induction. He regaled the crowd at the Watermill in Smithtown with a few funny anecdotes about his failed attempts to make the Commack South High School basketball and baseball teams.
“I was the last guy cut from both the baseball and basketball teams,” he said. “I don’t actually know if I was good enough to get close; maybe the coaches kept me around for amusement. I was fairly humorous.”
Costas said he was touched when Vaccaro told him of his election and that he didn’t want to miss that.
“It’s kind of a blast-from-the-past sort of thing. I haven’t done much professionally on Long Island unless you count the handful of Long Island Ducks games I did, not as the Ducks announcer but with the Syracuse Blazers of the old Eastern Hockey League,” Costas said. “Apart from that, none of my professional life has played out on Long Island. But I did grow up here. . . . I have a lot of pleasant memories connected to sports here. So what the heck? It’s a nice thing.”
Costas and Kropp are joined the 2019 class by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who went to Half Hollow Hills West High; Liberty star and North Babylon High product Bria Hartley; highly-decorated wrestling coach Guy Leggio from Bay Shore; martial arts expert Jerry Figgiani of Middle Island; and Sam Kornhauser, who coached the Stony Brook football program as it elevated from Division III to Division I.
Half Hollow Hills High alum Scott Beigel and West Islip native Aaron Feis – who both perished trying to protect students in the shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High in Parkland, Florida received special recognition awards. The Ward Melville boys lacrosse program received special recognition for its dynasty years. The New York Cuban Giants received a historic recognition award; founded in Babylon in 1885, they were the first African-American professional baseball club in history.
Costas said being from Long Island played a big role in his becoming a professional broadcaster.
“Living on Long Island, the media – with the exception of Newsday or News 12 and a handful of other outlets – is New York City media,” he said. “ So I was listening to Mel Allen, Red Barber and Lindsay Nelson and Marty Glickman,” he said. “I was getting some of the very best in sports media. Some of that seeped in . . . . in my desire to become one of them.”