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Hancock's First Field of Dreams


Hancock’s first Field of Dreams celebration honoring Hancock native and baseball great “Honest Eddie Murphy.” The celebration also recognized The DepositHancock softball and baseball teams which were named State Class D champions this year.

Members of John Edward “Honest Eddie” Murphy’s family gather in front of The Field of Dreams backdrop on Saturday, July 30, during Hancock’s first Field of Dreams celebration honoring Hancock native and baseball great “Honest Eddie Murphy.” The celebration also recognized The DepositHancock softball and baseball teams which were named State Class D champions this year.

The memorable quote “If You build it, they will come” from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams was a source of inspiration for more than one organizer of the inaugural Field of Dreams celebration and sports awards event in Hancock’s Town Square on Saturday, July 31. The event honored Hancock’s athletic heroes past and present.

The event recognized the athletic prowess and integrity of Hancock native and professional baseball legend John Edward “Honest Eddie” Murphy, who was born in the town in 1891, and lauded the accomplishments of the Hancock-Deposit Baseball and Softball teams who were both winners of New York State Class D Championship titles during the 2022 season.

“If we build it, they will come—so, that’s what we did,” Dr. Robert Sintich, a board director of the Hancock Partners, Inc., which sponsored the event, told the crowd of residents, politicians, athletes, and members of “Honest Eddie” Murphy’s family who traveled to Hancock for the occasion.

The Town Square was set up with a vinyl backdrop of the cornfield from a memorable scene in the Field of Dreams movie, which members of the event, a collaborative community endeavor, involved Hancock organizations such as the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, The Hancock Community Education Foundation, Hancock Fireman’s Lady Auxiliary, The Village and Town governments, and the Hancock Rescue Squad. Just getting the cornfield backdrop to the Town Square took a community effort, noted Richard Lowe, Director of Economic Development for the Hancock Partners.

We have asked FedEx to formally consider a new slogan: “If You Land it, They Will Come!”, said Lowe. The custom-made backdrop was made in Georgia then flown to upstate New York, said Lowe. But in the course of its journey to Hancock, the backdrop had two separate emergency landings, one in Rome, NY, and the other in Syracuse. Thanks to coordination with truck drivers from FedEx Binghamton, the Partners were able to get the backdrop to Hancock with less than an hour to spare before Saturday’s event.

Saturday’s festivities were the first of what will be a regular celebration of local sporting events, known as “Honest Eddie Murphy Day.” The Partners also announced the establishment of a sports scholarship and activity fund which will be funded and awarded through the event. The scholarship and activity fund will be available to all D-H students involved in school sports and offered to athletes in both the Hancock and Deposit

School Districts. The first contribution to the fund was received from Jack Hillerich, C.E.O. of the Louisville Sluggers, said Sintich, who announced the creation of the scholarship and activity fund. In another facet of Hancock’s baseball history, a mill operated in the town by the Hillerich & Bradsby Company made baseball bats for over 80 years from local ash logs for the Louisville Sluggers including such baseball greats as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Ted Williams.

Going forward, the Hancock Partners hope to tie-in to Baseball Hall of Fame programs in Cooperstown, NY, and envisions Hancock as a destination for baseball fans. Baseball historian and author, John Heeg, was on hand to talk about “Honest Eddie” Murphy’s history. Heeg has written a biography about “Honest Eddie” for the Society For American Baseball Research. So often it is easy to get lost in statistics about a baseball player’s career, Heeg noted. But Murphy was a player not only of great stats but of character and decency, he said. Murphy was famously nick-named “Honest Eddie” when he played with the Chicago White Sox in the 1919 world series, an event best known for the “Black Sox Scandal.” Murphy was called “Honest Eddie” due to his refusal to join in a game-fixing scheme.

The scandal involved eight members of the Chicago White Sox who were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate. As a result, the National Baseball Commission was disbanded, and the first Commissioner of Baseball was appointed. Despite acquittals in a public trial in 1921, all eight men were banded from professional baseball.

Murphy played major league baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Socks, and Pittsburgh Pirates and appeared in three World Series. In an American era known for corruption, “He was a guy who decided to do the decent thing,” said Heeg. “I appreciate how this community celebrates him,” said Heeg, naming Murphy’s legacy as “an ability to bring people together.” Edward Murphy, grandson of “Honest Eddie” recalled his grandfather as a “quiet and humble man” and recalled stories told about how Murphy would visit his family in Dunmore, PA, and take drives around the countryside through Wayne and Susquehanna counties with other baseball players like Babe Ruth.

Following the parade, members of the D-H baseball softball and baseball teams and their coaches were presented awards and t-shirts for their State Championship wins by District 122 New York State Assemblyman, Joe Angelino and District 51 New York State Senator, Peter Oberacker. Other featured speakers were Hancock Town Supervisor Jerry Vernold and Hancock Superintendent of Schools Terrance Dougherty. The event also included live jazz music provided by the French Woods Performing Arts Camp, chicken BBQ provided by the Hancock Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, and an evening showing of the movie “Field of Dreams” on an outdoor screen in the Square. Donations to the Honest Eddie Murphy Scholarship and Activity Fund can be made on the Honest Eddie Murphy Scholarship Athletic Fund GoFundMe website.

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