By Gavin Menu
Ed Luke sat perched in a familiar spot on the edge of the Pierson dugout as cold winds swirled around the baseball diamond at Mashashimuet Park on Monday afternoon. Luke held five sharpened pencils in one hand and an impeccably kept scorebook in the other.
It seems these days that where there’s a Whalers game, no matter the sport, “Mr. Luke,” as he’s affectionately known, is not far behind.
“If you look at the pro game, the guys there are doing it because they are getting paid,” Luke said during a conversation this week. “The kids in high school are doing it because they want to do it, because they love to do it.”
Luke, 73, moved to Noyac in 1994 after he “retired” from teaching in Spring Valley, New York, only to become an almost full-time substitute teacher at Pierson Middle-High School. Since then, he has served as the official scorekeeper for the Pierson-Bridgehampton baseball team and as the timekeeper and scorekeeper for Whalers soccer. Luke also works the clock at basketball games during the winter, commuting to each game from his new home in Greenport.
“Three years ago when I inherited the varsity soccer team, Ed came with it,” Peter Solow, the current head soccer coach, said in an interview this week. “If you think about the school being a family, and then you think about the team being like a family, he’s always been a member of our family.”
Luke grew up in northern New Jersey and attended Princeton University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to get a Masters in Education from Harvard University and taught biology and coached various sports in Spring Valley for 32 years before he retired to his family home in Noyac, where he had vacationed for many years prior.
“I put in papers to be a substitute in Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Southampton, and right away I got a call from Sag Harbor. I told them I had to finish my current job first,” Luke said, laughing. “I got out here that summer and started at Pierson in September. I worked 30 or 40 days that first year, and pretty much 100 or more every year after that.”
Luke gave up teaching altogether three years ago but has continued to serve Pierson athletics in different capacities. His are paid positions through the athletic department, but Luke on Tuesday said his love for high school sports has been the real motivation for his continued presence at Pierson sporting events.
“He keeps our official scorebook, he’s there at every scrimmage, he’s there at every game, he goes on the road and travels to every game,” Whalers baseball coach Jon Tortorella said. “He knows the game and he does the stats perfectly. And he is always there with a little coaching advice as well. He is a tradition for us.”
Luke said his favorite sport is soccer, which he coached at the varsity level when he was a full-time teacher. Solow said in their three years working together, he has noticed that Luke picks up on small things about the game, and even notices player tendencies, which he quietly passes along to the coaches.
“From my perspective, this guy is golden,” Solow said. “He’s very insightful, he knows about everybody, he watches the game. He’s like a tradition. He’s one of these people who you just have this expectation that he’s always going to be there.”
After Monday’s frigid baseball game in Sag Harbor, Luke was asked if he still enjoyed working in what are sometimes difficult weather conditions.
“I keep coming back, don’t I?” he responded with the kind of wry humor that has endeared him not only to coaches, but also to the young athletes at Pierson. “I’m vertical and I’m breathing and it keeps me getting up in the morning. And when you make a commitment to these coaches, they need you there, so you keep it going.”