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Dick Berich Dick Berich
Inducted: 2011 - Graduated: 1968

Unlike most of his high school teammates, Dick Berich was not privileged to have spent his pre-teen years in Nanuet. His family had moved from Asbury Park, N.J., and settled here in June of 1964, just prior to Dick’s freshman year. But the transplanted Jerseyan had no trouble assimilating into the school’s welcoming culture or placing his stamp on the athletic program. In fact, by the time he graduated in 1968 he had established himself as one of Nanuet’s fi nest multi-sport athletes of the 1960’s and among the first to receive All-County recognition in two sports, football and baseball.
Dick is the third member of the Berich family to earn induction into the Hall of Fame, following his father, Ed,
a Distinguished Service Award recipient, and Don, a state champion hurdler from the class of 1975. Only the
Conklins – Harvey, Rich and Sean – are as well represented in the Hall of Fame as the Berich clan.
The oldest of four Berich boys, Dick grew to a strapping 5-foot-10, 190 pounds and parlayed his size, strength
and toughness into success on the diamond and gridiron. Three straight years he made fi rst-team All-County as
a catcher, and in his senior year was tabbed second-team All-Metropolitan Area by the New York Daily News.
At the awards dinner in New York City, Dick wore a fl ashy pink madras sports jacket – the same sartorial choice
as the event’s host, former Major League catcher Joe Garagiola. “When he saw me, he said, ‘This guy’s got to
be a catcher,” Dick says with a hearty chuckle.
In Dick’s junior year he batted .302, and as a senior his highlight offensive moment was a 400-foot, ninth-inning
home run that lifted the Golden Knights to a 3-2 victory over Suffern. The Journal-News raved about his sturdy
defense in its All-County story: “He has all the tools as a defensive backstop: arm, experience and confi dence to
throw to second base on a 1st-and-3rd situation.” He allowed only 11 stolen bases while Nanuet swiped 49 in
the ’68 season. Coached by Chuck Holland and led by Dick and fellow All-County mates Peter Bonomolo and
Ken Wegman, the Knights won 8 of 14 games to fi nish third in the Rockland PSAL, the program’s first season
above .500.
A couple of episodes stand out in Dick’s recollection of his baseball days. One came against Clarkstown, the
perennial County champ, in which Dick volunteered to plug a relief-pitching hole while his catcher’s spot was
fi lled by Greg Little. After a Clarkstown player leveled Little at the plate, Dick went back to catch the last two
innings and got “payback” on another Clarkstown player charging home, delivering a bone-jarring but legal hit
on a tag play.
The other memorable incident was a triple play executed by Nanuet during his junior year. He had miscounted
the outs after a double play and was “strolling back to the bench” when the opposing player on second
base – who was not involved in the double play – rounded third and came steaming home. Dick spun around,
stuck his glove out, caught the ball from fi rst baseman Brian Fay and tagged the player out all in one motion.
“Later that player told me, ‘Man, that was a great fake,’ ” Dick says sheepishly. “I never told him it was not
intentional. I never told anybody!”
In football Dick was a bruising fullback who made second-team All-County as a junior and first-team
All-County as a senior. He held the PSAL rushing lead until the final game of the ’67 season, finishing second
with 365 yards on 94 carries for an average of just under 4 yards per rush. Unfortunately, the Little Brown Jug
Game against Pearl River was cancelled that season – due to the football-related death of Pearl River player
Brian Armstrong – thus depriving Dick of the opportunity to notch the rushing title.
While Dick was grinding out 104 yards on 31 carries in a 9-7 non-league victory over Our Lady of Lourdes,
Nyack’s Bobby Smith was gaining 59 yards in his season finale to overtake Dick – not that it mattered to him.
Dick was a team player all the way. The rushing crown was “immaterial to him,” Coach Holland said at that
time. “He’s a powerful runner and the best back I’ve coached for his size. He’s a complete football player.”
As was typical for Nanuet players in that era, Dick also played on defense, as an end and middle guard (nose
tackle). He was coached by Mike Achille his first two years and by Holland his last two.
“I have the greatest respect for Dick Berich’s ability on the football field,” says Bonomolo, Dick’s teammate in
both sports. “He would go right from being the fullback on offense to nose tackle on defense. He was hit constantly on offense, and he was hit constantly on defense.”
Dick has a treasure trove of memories from his football playing days, some involving Bonomolo. In one of
those scenarios, Pete executed a perfect bootleg for a touchdown from the 1-yard line after faking the handoff
to Dick. “Everybody went to tackle me,” Dick says. “I leaped into a pile of bodies. Meanwhile Pete was in the
corner of the end zone waving to me with the ball in the air.” On another occasion, Dick, the team’s punter,
boomed a wind-aided 75-yard punt followed by a 5-yard punt swatted back toward him by 40-mph gusts. “What
if I catch my own punt?” Dick wondered. He decided to let it bounce, and completed the day with a misleading
40-yard punting average.
In the winter season, Dick was persuaded by Ray Stedge to join the wrestling team as a freshman. “That was
a mistake,” Dick says ruefully. “They called me ‘Leatherback’ because I spent most of the time on my back. I
won only one match in my wrestling career.” He weighed 190 pounds but wrestled at 175. “Getting down to
that weight was brutal.” Dick played JV basketball in 10th grade and “rode the bench” on varsity as a junior. He
did not play a winter sport as a senior. At the conclusion of his scholastic career he earned a Nanuet Black and
Gold Club scholarship.
Dick accepted a football scholarship to Lehigh University but a sprained ankle two games into his freshman
year – and an NFL-caliber speedster at his fullback position – limited his playing time. He was switched to
guard his junior year but played sparingly. He also played freshman baseball but thereafter concentrated on
spring football, which was virtually mandatory for scholarship players. “I preferred baseball and my coach
wanted me to play it also, but I was getting ‘paid’ to play football,” Dick says.
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering in 1972, Dick earned a master’s in urban planning at Johns
Hopkins and settled in the Baltimore area. He spent 25 years with Purdum & Jeschke, rising from entry-level
engineer to co-owner of the firm. He then spent 12 years at Dewberry & Davis, and recently left the company to
accept a position with EBA Engineering, also located in Baltimore.
Dick, who is 61, lives in the Baltimore suburb of Hampstead, Md., with his wife, Janet, to whom he’s been
married 29 years. The Berichs have two children: Jonathan, 26, a Penn State graduate and Border Patrol officer
in San Diego; and Amy, 20, a junior at College of Notre Dame in Baltimore studying to be a medical technician
in radiology. In his spare time, Dick enjoys bass fishing on the Northern Chesapeake Bay and in the Potomac
River. He’s a regular in bass-fishing tournaments and is active in the Maryland Bass Federation.