By Bruce Fitzpatrick

Until that instant, in the spring of 1962, the first week of the first New York Mets spring training had gone well. I drew considerable attention because I was only 18 and ten to 15 years younger than most of the players. The moment occurred when infielders were practicing rundowns. As a shortstop back at New South High School in Newton, Mass., I had been taught to use the old obey-when-under-duress tactic of yelling, “Stop!” to the runner. Our iconic 72-year-old manager, Casey Stengel, went ballistic when he watched my rendition. He called me over and dressed me down for pulling such a stunt. I explained that’s the way I was taught.

I survived the incident because my high school coach, Howard Ferguson, had given me confidence. Yes, Stengel had scared the daylights out of me, but “Fergie” taught his players to believe in themselves.

A second major “rundown” occurred 53 years later. Two heart attacks put me in New York’s Westchester Medical Center. I was informed my heart was damaged beyond repair and my only option was a heart transplant. Once again, I was stunned.

I was placed on a waiting list that eventually became a 148-day nightmare — constant fear, lots of anxiety, and endless waiting. Despite the unknown, I was able to maintain my composure because Coach Ferguson’s influence surfaced once again. I turned my hospital room into an office, complete with a desk and bookcase. With an iPhone and iPad, I got busy doing whatever it took to make each day a positive experience. Then on day 149 of waiting, a heart suddenly became available from a donor.

I got to the big leagues as a teenager because of Coach Ferguson. His desire to win was a compulsion. He often quoted Vince Lombardi’s mantra that “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” In baseball, as in waiting for a new heart, “winning” was essential. Without a new heart I would die.

My heart transplant was performed on February 10, 2016 at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. The hospital stay was a grim experience, despite the advanced medical facilities and the incredible team of nurses and doctors. I was literally confined to the fifth floor of the hospital for months. Even though I had frequent visitors, severe feelings of isolation began to set in. The crux of the problem was that I had no idea when the wait would end. Eventually, I made it because of determination.

An organ donor can help many critically ill people — heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, intestines, and eyes are all needed.

Last year, 8,000 people died in the U.S. because they didn’t receive an organ in time. Currently, there are 117,000 people, 9,500 of them in New York State, on the national organ donor waiting list. An important statistic: while 26% of Westchester County drivers are registered donors, 74% are not. It’s worth noting that 89% of Minnesota drivers are registered donors, and only 11% are not. There is clearly room for improvement in Westchester County. It might help if more people perceived this as doing something monumental, something humanitarian, and something good. The reward is putting a fellow human back in commission.

I am now moving along the road called recovery. The transplant was 16 months ago. I frequently reflect on the entirety of what’s happened as I enjoy the simple things in life like a stroll on the beach or a matinee movie. The heart came from a 30-year-old male whose name was not given to me. I am grateful every day for his unknowing generosity. A life lost. A life gained.

A philosophical doctor once shared an old Jewish saying, “If you save one life, you save the world.” So the game we all have to play is “let’s sign up!”

You can do just that at

Bruce Fitzpatrick, at left, with Casey Stengel in 1962

In recovery after a heart transplant

By Howard Husock

What approaches might be best to make possible a lower pool fee at Rye Golf Club without requiring a major infusion of taxpayer money? 

There are a number of practical approaches that the Rye Golf Club Commission might consider. For instance, it’s well worth considering whether pool fees could be lowered by raising the cost of golf.

The two fees currently bring in roughly the same amount of revenue for the Club, which the City currently requires to be a self-supporting enterprise. A resident daily golf membership costs $3,100, according to the most recent fee schedule posted on the City website. That’s relatively costly compared with other municipal golf courses in the Eastern U.S. For instance, The Griff in Greenwich charges resident members $165 per year, East Falmouth, Massachusetts charges $2,250 per person, North Palm Beach, Florida $2,244, and Rockville, Maryland, $145 per month. 

Rye Golf is, however, strikingly inexpensive compared to private golf clubs in and around Westchester. The Journal-News has reported that the average initiation fee for new members at one of the 47 private golf courses in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties is $51,000; the fee for Trump National in Briarcliff Manor is at the other end of the spectrum — $200,000. In contrast, Rye Golf advertises that, “it prides itself on affordable annual membership dues.” and on initiation fee.” 

Does the City of Rye really want to be in the business of offering low golf club rates? Perhaps low rates, compared to private golf courses, could be justified if there were no other public golf courses in and around Rye. There are, however, no fewer than 20 other public courses in the three-county area — including six courses owned and operated by Westchester County, among them Maple Moor in White Plains. 

It’s important to note that all County recreational activities — indeed, all Westchester County operations of any kind — are disproportionately supported by property taxpayers in Rye, where the increase in home values compared to those elsewhere in the County have long been driving up our share of County taxes. In other words, it makes sense for Rye golf enthusiasts to use the County courses —because they’re already paying for them. Those who nonetheless prefer a club should not expect “an affordable annual membership” fee. 

There are other approaches to lowering the pool fees, however. Sometimes lowering a price can actually increase revenue. So it might well be that a lower price for half the summer — perhaps August only, or even the last two weeks of that month — could induce many potentially new members put off by the current high annual fee. Other special rates — for grandparents and grandchildren, daily guest passes — should be considered. In Great Neck, a community not dissimilar to Rye, not only do annual swim passes cost but $260 per family but five-day passes are sold as well, for $75. Similarly, the option of paying a daily fee for a round of golf — rather than requiring membership — is common at virtually all of the municipal courses. 

Finally, it’s well worth the City considering getting out of the restaurant business, the third component of Rye Golf Club. Proceeds from the pool and golf must go, in part, to upkeep and operations of Whitby Castle restaurant, an historic building 

The ideas above may not be the best, nor the only approaches to making the Rye Golf Club pool more appropriately priced for the full range of City of Rye household incomes, but they may help the City and the Club recognize that it’s time to rethink the business model of the Post Road facility. 



By Peter Jovanovich

When one undergoes a double lung transplant, as I did in 2004, one of the unexpected side effects is an aching sense of isolation. It feels like one is swimming in a sea of healthy people, who do not face the grim statistics of a five-year life span, punctuated by illness and pain, and who will not founder against the tide of fatal rejection or infection.

And then, one day I met Donna Hogben through a mutual friend, and that pool of aloneness evaporated. A longtime resident of Rye, who had a life-threatening lung disease, Donna was gathering facts in order to make an informed decision whether or not to have a transplant. She had heard about my transplant experience, and, typical of Donna, took action by calling me to find out more.

We met in Patisserie Salzburg; and, at first, Donna was all business. “What are the risks? How bad is the medication? What about the side effects?” Eventually, I interjected: “Considering the alternative is lying 6 feet under, the other stuff is not that important.”

Donna smiled and said wryly, “You have a point,” and we were immediate friends.

Before her transplant, and for 11 years after, my wife Robin and I went to plays and movies and dinners with Donna and her husband George, became friends with her children Julie and George, and lived to see our grandson Peter play with Julie’s daughter Isabel.

We laughed – about anything worth laughing about. We laughed about the silly euphemisms that hospitals use, about the farcical sides of political correctness, and the idiocies of modern life. When Donna served as board president of the Blind Brook Lodge Association and I served on the City Council, we laughed about the out-of-this-world demands we would receive. We laughed uproariously when a woman said to Robin: “I don’t know if I should tell you this, but your husband has been seen regularly having coffee with another woman at Patisserie Salzburg!”

And always, there was Donna’s and my unspoken understanding. We experienced the ups and downs of transplant life together — the crises in the hospital, the good “numbers” and the bad, indeed, all of it.

These lines of dialogue from Joseph Conrad’s short story, “The Secret Sharer,” echo our friendship.

“As long as you understand,” he whispered. “But, course you do. It’s a great satisfaction to have got somebody to understand. You seem to have been there on purpose. It’s very wonderful.”

Donna and I together beat the odds – living far longer than predicted. And then in July, she came down with pneumonia, and, within days, was in serious trouble. On visiting her in the ICU at Columbia Presbyterian, it was apparent she was embarked on the downward journey of every lung transplant survivor.

Julie graciously allowed me a few minutes alone with Donna, who was sedated. I wept. I wept for this wonderful, generous, loving woman, for all the people she helped, for her love of her family. And, I wept for myself. My secret sharer was passing away.

Madonna Jeanne Hogben, born in Buffalo on March 27, 1940, died on August 10, 2017.

<“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”>

Ridgewood Drive resident John Nussbaum reported that his $700 Scott metrix bike was stolen from the Metro-North parking area under the I-95 overpass on the New York side August 21.

“The thief yanked out the parking sign and stole the bike, which was locked with a kryptonite lock.” He continued, “The thief even left his arrival bike!”

Mr. Nussbaum wrote us that this was his second bike to be stolen from the Rye train station in five years, and that he’d seen a severed lock from another bike theft there the previous week.

His suggestion: better train station patrolling and more securely installed signs.

Our suggestion? A bicycle shed equipped with a combination lock.

By Robin Jovanovich

Life is like a well-designed garden, at least for Anne Mottola, who is rooted in creativity and spreads wonder wherever she sows.

Teaching and gardening are in her blood and she figured out how to enjoy careers in both. At Osborn School, she has not only taught, but also created the school garden. She holds a certificate in gardening from the New York Botanical Garden, where she works from March through early November and instills a love of gardens and gardening in young children, generally second graders, after school.

“Part of my job at the Botanical Garden is to create lesson plans,” said Mottola. The more she wrote about the benefits of insects and herbs, starting from seed, harvesting techniques, and incredible edibles, the more she thought about writing a series of children’s books on gardening that included activities.

With the cost of safety glasses for viewing a rare solar eclipse soaring sky high, what seemed like half the summer population of Rye began lining up around the Village Green by 10 a.m. August 21. Stargazers from 8 to 80 waited in hope of obtaining one of the 250 pair of glasses offered by Rye Free Reading Room and its generous donors. By zero-hour, 2:44 p.m., nobody seemed disappointed by being surrounded by a dusk-like, smoky shade of light.

–Tom McDermott