If journalism is the first rough draft of history, it’s appropriate that Dick Yerg, a former history major, was in the trenches chronicling local sports for more than three and a half decades.
Dick Yerg, a dyed-in-the-wool, native Nyacker, spent four years covering Rockland County sports for the Rockland edition of The Record of Bergen County, NJ, then embarked on a 32-year career with The Journal-News and its parent company. He served as Journal-News sports editor from 1967 to 1975, then spent nine years as sports editor of Westchester Rockland Newspapers, a chain of newspapers in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties that includes The Journal-News. Yerg returned to The Journal- News as a sports writer in 1984 and remained there until his retirement last November.
His impact was such that last spring, the Rockland County Coaches Associ- ation feted him with a special award for his career’s worth of distinguished service to and appreciation for Rockland athletics.
A self-effacing man, Yerg went about his work with poise and equanimity. In the some times raucous atmosphere of a sports department, Yerg was a paternal voice of reason. It is the journalist’s mission to make it clear, make it interesting, and make it right. Clarity, style, accuracy. Dick Yerg was a winner on all three counts. His game stories and feature articles were always factually correct, well researched and fun to read. And his meticulous record-keeping over the years made The Journal-News’ sports archives the envy of other media and a god send for athletic programs throughout Rockland County.
Yerg witnessed- and duly chronicled- the major sports trends in our county since the early ‘60s. He was in the vanguard of journalists who recognized the profound impact of the blossoming of girls’ sports. He was front and center during what many consider the halcyon days of Rockland scholastic sports, the 1970s.
He had a bird’s-eye view of the development of athletic realignment in 1983- 84, when Rockland schools moved from Section 9 (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster counties) to Section 1 (Westchester, Putnam , Dutchess). He was an ardent supporter of The Journal-News-sponsored Little League Tournament of Champions, and he considers himself privileged to have written about some two hundred talented winners of The Journal-News’ Scholar-Athlete of the Week program.
Yerg’s passion for ice hockey translated into a 19-year stint covering the New York Rangers for Westchester Rockland Newspapers. He was an officer of the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association for 12 years, serving as its president for six terms, and voted on National Hockey League award winners and all-stars for 10 years. He also was a founding member of the New York State Sports Writers Association.
Yerg graduated in 1957 from Nyack High School, where he was a member of championship teams in football and baseball his senior year. At Bates College in Lewiston, Me., he captained the soccer team for two years, and played four years of that sport and baseball. On the recreation softball diamond, Yerg played with distinction for various Rockland teams from 1959 to 1975 and helped found the highly competitive league at the Deer Head Inn field in West Nyack, the mecca of county softball for many years.
Outside of his college tenure, Yerg, who’ s 59, never strayed far from his Nyack roots. He has said, with a certain pride of place, that he was born at Nyack Hospital, grew up down the block from MacCalman field in Nyack, went to school at Nyack High and will be buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, a stone’s throw from the hospital and the old high school. He and his wife, Sandi, reside in Nyack and have two grown children, Roger and Kari.