A baseball field stands as a reminder of the sacrifice of one former Kings Park resident.
Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and town officials were on hand Friday, April 23, for the ribbon cutting and grand reopening of the Daniel J. Flynn Memorial Park on Old Commack Road. They were joined by members of Flynn’s family, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Kings Park civic and chamber.
The ballpark, which was constructed in 1979, was recently renovated with four resurfaced synthetic turf fields that feature a built-in drainage system, warning tracks and pitchers’ warm-up mounds. LED energy-efficient sports lighting was also added to the park, and a two-story air-conditioned building includes a concession stand, pro shop and handicapped-accessible bathrooms on the first floor. The second floor features a press box.
Wehrheim said he knew Flynn growing up.
“I think you will agree what a beautiful facility this is for the honor of someone that’s been close to me,” the supervisor said. “I grew up as a very young child with the Flynn family. We played together. We went to school together. Truth be told, Danny always was the best ballplayer.”
Flynn was a member of the 720th Military Police Battalion, C Company, and was a private first class. Just 20 days after his arrival in Vietnam, he was killed in action May 25, 1968, after taking the place of a friend on an escort assignment.
The Kings Park High School graduate was a member of the school’s varsity baseball team, and he played semi-professional baseball on the grounds of Kings Park State Hospital. He received tryout offers from the St. Louis Cardinals but instead enlisted in the U.S. Army
Wehrheim said that the ballpark deteriorated greatly since it was built in 1979. He added the project was budgeted for $4.2 million, however, the town went over the projected costs by approximately $3 million. He thanked the town’s Comptroller’s Office for finding the money to complete the project. Wehrheim added that the renovations were supposed to be completed in 2022, and they were a year ahead of schedule.
He said, in addition to honoring Flynn, the park was renovated for the children and families in the community.
“It had to be top notch and that’s exactly what we did,” he said.
Richard Kitson, president of the Suffolk County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, congratulated the town on the job.
“I come from Levittown where you have a little sign in front of the library, and it’s very nice, but it’s not this,” he said.
Kitson said the rededication of the ballpark was an important event.
“Nothing more meaningful is happening on this Island than what’s happening here, and the reason it’s happening is because patriots like the people behind me never forgot the only way to honor Daniel is to never forget him,” he said.
Flynn’s brother Dennis Flynn, who Wehrheim described as the patriarch of the Flynn family, took to the podium before the ribbon cutting. In addition to introducing his family members and thanking the Town Board and departments involved in the renovation, he had a message for his deceased brother.
“Thank you for sacrificing your life to make this country stronger,” he said.