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Port Jefferson Sporting Goods

Richard Angelo LoNigro Sr.

Prepared by Rich Acritelli

On Feb. 1, Port Jefferson resident and longtime business leader Richard Angelo LoNigro Sr. passed away. LoNigro was born in Brooklyn on April 22, 1942. As a young man, LoNigro flourished on the baseball diamond as a catcher at Carey High School in Franklin Square. After graduating in 1960, LoNigro enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Tanner. The following year, LoNigro married his sweetheart Priscilla, beginning their long life together.

LoNigro had an impressive tryout at Yankee Stadium, where he hit two home runs into the outfield bullpen. After playing at spring training for the New York Yankees in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, LoNigro ended his baseball career and headed back to Long Island. However, for years, he was a baseball scout for the New York Mets. At first, he supported his growing family of three children as a delivery driver for Tip-Top Bread in Garden City.

In 1966, the LoNigro family of 12 children became longtime residents of Selden. Five years later, LoNigro started what became Port Jefferson Sporting Goods. LoNigro eventually was meeting the diverse sporting needs of individuals, teams, and schools from Montauk to New York City. His store had a thriving front end that stocked Nike and Adidas merchandise, college and professional team hats, sporting equipment, and a full wall of sneakers for every type of sport. 

Through the support of his children LoNigro built this store into one of the top-10 sporting goods organizations in the United States. Tirelessly working almost seven days a week, he was recognized for his success by companies like Rawlings with the Silver Glove award that was bestowed on a limited number of sporting businesses. 

LoNigro was a citizen who gave back to his community by helping the earliest functions of St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church in Port Jefferson Station. 

Longtime St. Anthony’s High School athletic director, Donal Buckley, marveled at the energy that LoNigro presented in running his business and helping others. Buckley recalled the presence of LoNigro “to be a key contributor in moving a religious grotto from Smithtown to Huntington Station. He supported numerous fundraiser events for this school and was beyond fair when purchasing team uniforms.”

The LoNigros also supported the efforts of Father Frank Pizzarelli at Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson. He worked on its board to help the vital efforts of caring for children who faced hard times through its mission statement that “Every life is Sacred.” 

LoNigro was a legendary local figure who had an unyielding ability to help others through a multitude of various charities. The Suffolk County Police Athletic League presented LoNigro as their Man of the Year in 2000. Moreover, in 2016, the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame thanked him as one of the original board members to recognize the finest athletes from this area and the contributions that they made to their own communities. LoNigro was an avid golfer who loved the sport and enjoyed playing with his friends. LoNigro and Priscilla liked their time at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and attending the multiple events and accomplishments of their 26 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. 

Long Island has lost an iconic person who was an American success story that worked his way up from humble beginnings and became a notable business leader. LoNigro’s store represented a simpler time years ago that saw an owner know his customers who spent decades shopping at this special establishment. He set an important bar of excellence to stand behind numerous causes that made Long Island a better place. Thank you to Richard A. LoNigro and his family for their decades of humanity toward the vital needs of their fellow citizens.

2016 Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame inductees Tom Combs, Chuck Downey and Rich Cimini pose for a photo at the induction announcement press conference. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday that they will be inducting eight new members in 2016. The class includes Setauket resident Rich Cimini, the New York Jets beat reporter for ESPN; Commack resident Chuck Downey, the first Stony Brook University athlete to sign a professional sports contract; and Setauket resident Tom Combs, the athletic director at Patchogue-Medford High School and a standout football star for Smithtown, among others.

Television and radio host David Weiss introduced the inductees at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge during the press conference.

“It’s an honor to be associated with such great inductees, great athletes and coaches,” Cimini said during the press conference after he was introduced. “I’m just a guy who got cut from his varsity baseball team by Bill Batewell. At least he’s a Hall of Famer, so I can say that I got cut by a Hall of Fame coach.”

Cimini graduated from Sachem High School in 1981. He has covered the Jets for Newsday, the Daily News and now ESPN during his long career as a reporter.

“It has been such a great ride that I have a fear that I’m going to wake up one day and realize it’s just been a dream, and that I actually have to go out and get a real job,” Cimini said.

Downey, who is currently a Battalion Chief for the FDNY, credited his parents for instilling values of hard work that led him to be successful in life. His father Raymond, who was also an FDNY firefighter, was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Suffolk is very special, and to be here today with these other inductees — thank you very much,” Downey said during the press conference. He was a three-sport athlete at Deer Park High School, before playing football at Stony Brook University, and ultimately signing an NFL contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988.

Combs has played, coached and been an athletic director in Suffolk County dating back to the 1970s. He is also a member of the Hall’s board of trustees.

“This is quite a talented class,” Combs said. “I’ve been involved with the Hall of Fame for the last five years and I can honestly say this is a very intimidating group with some amazing accomplishments.”

The other inductees include Jillian Byers, a thre-sport standout from Northport who went on to become a four-time All-American in lacrosse; Frank Romeo, who was a longtime boys’ basketball coach at Comsewogue High School who was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame last year; and Laura Gentile, Maria Michta-Coffey and Isaac Ramaswamy, all of whom went to Sachem.

Richie LoNigro, owner of Port Jefferson Sporting Goods, will also receive a Special Recognition Award for his dedication to the athletes of Suffolk County. He is one of only six people in the country to receive the Rawlings Sporting Goods Silver Glove Award, which has been given to some of the most respected people in the sporting good industry

The ceremony for the 2016 inductees will take place on May 6, also at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Hauppauge. Tickets are $95. For more information visit https://www.suffolksportshof.com.