Perhaps the best pop reference to polo came in 1956, in The Honeymooners “On Stage” episode (season 5, episode 31) when Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) are reading a script for a play they are rehearsing for.
Norton: (reading his script) I don’t possess a mansion or a villa in France or a yacht or a string of poloponies.
Ralph: (reading from the script) I’m glad to hear…[he stops suddenly then says] A string of poloponies? Where do you see that?
Norton: (pointing) Right there, “a string of poloponies.”
Ralph: That’s “a string of POLO PONIES!”
The audience roars with laughter.
Honeymooners fans still make reference to that scene more than 60 years later, and in fact, the reference was recently overheard between two polo fans at the Bethpage polo fields during last weekend’s Meadowbrook Polo Club’s league tournament against 101 Polo Club.
Played for more than 2,000 years, polo—the “Sport of Kings”—is one of the only sports that is celebrated and played worldwide and it has a rich history here on Long Island. The Meadowbrook Polo Club is the oldest continuously operating polo club in the United States, first established in 1881.
Some people dispute a horseman’s athleticism. We’ve heard people question, “How can they be considered sportsmen?”
“If you play golf, you are hitting a ball with a 40-inch club; it’s teed up for you and you’re standing still,” said Bob Ceparano, president of Polo at the Park. “Now, think about this: you have four reins and a whip in one hand, a 1,000-pound horse underneath you, a mallet that’s more than 50-inches long; the ball’s travelling up to 120 mph, someone is running into you with another 1,000-pound animal, and your horse is not necessarily a willing participant.”
The skill involved is not just hitting a polo ball and staying on a horse. In addition to owning the club and teaching the sport, Ceparano has played the sport for dozens of years. He took ownership of Bethpage Polo approximately six years ago.
“This sport is about absolute control,” said Ceparano. “It’s the easiest sport to play, but the hardest sport to play well.”
Polo at the Park, for 84 years, has been located at Bethpage State Park in Old Bethpage.
Games run on Sundays through Oct. 9 at 3 p.m.
Visit www.bethpagepolo.com or call 516-500-7656 for tickets, sponsorship information and also theme days on the schedule.