FH’s Ron Stevens—From Underdog to Playwright
By Tara Lamberti

“Hey, I’m flying the patch, Mr. Cherry!” Ron Scott Stevens bellowed. His voice filled a small beach house in Fair Harbor, which today has been transformed into a fire station. As Stevens morphed into the characters of his play, “Cherry’s Patch,” I am whisked away from the real world and sucked into the one he has created. When the one man show is over and Stevens becomes himself again, it became evident that this 59-year-old is a man with many talents. From Chairman of the New York State Athletic Association to playwright, Stevens’ story is as much of an inspiration as the heroes of his play.

Today everyone’s life is on the fast track. People race to get out of school, climb the corporate ladder and run down the aisle. This was never Stevens’ approach. “Fate’s hand has a lot to do with who I am and where I am. I truly believe that,” he said.

When Stevens graduated from Hofstra in 1969 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, he didn’t quite know what to do with it. He wrote plays on the side, but they took a back seat to other quests in his life. He journeyed into Manhattan and learned the ins and outs of one-way streets and traffic jams as a taxi driver. As he meandered the city streets Stevens set his sights on becoming a lawyer. Halfway through law school he knew it was not for him and quit. Feeling restless at 25, he pulled up stakes and moved to Woodstock. It was there that his English degree began to kick in.

In Woodstock, Stevens got involved with the local paper, radio station and television network. He had a column in the Woodstock Times called “Homer’s Corner,” was a newscaster on WDST radio and became the sports announcer and producer on HVTV, Hudson Valley Television. Though the small town had been good to him for six years, “I was more ambitious,” Stevens acknowledged. At 31 he became a traveler again and attempted to make a life in various locations. When nothing panned out Stevens found himself back on the streets of New York waiting tables.

Always familiar with sports, Stevens knew that he would make a career out of it. But how did he choose boxing?

“One day a light went off in my head. It said ‘boxing.’ Boxing is the sport of the underdog, and I am an underdog.”

The decision was made. Stevens went to Gleason’s gym in Manhattan and got a job as a ring announcer. His career only escalated from there. Stevens has since gone on to become the editor of boxing magazines, a licensed matchmaker and Chairman of the New York State Athletic Association. Alas, his triumphs did not come without struggle.

“Sometimes I would wallow in my struggles,” Stevens admitted. For years he tried to build up his own companies to promote boxing, only to have each one dissolve. Yet his determination kept him moving forward.

Stevens wrote three plays during his soul searching. His first, “Three Of Us Left” was produced at The 13th Street Theater, between 5th and 6th. In his second play, “Lippe,” actor William Hickey agreed to play the lead. His third play was entitled “Red, Green and Yellow,” an urban myth about taxi drivers.

Unbeknownst to Stevens at the time, while he was working in gyms and writing on the side, he would meet someone who would inspire a new character. Vernon Cherry became a close friend of Stevens’ and eventually the lead in “Cherry’s Patch.” A fireman in the ladder company adjacent to the gym, Cherry was a boxing fan. Also a singer, he volunteered his time to sing the national anthem at the boxing matches. As the two grew to be friends Stevens learned that Cherry was an artist too. He had designed a patch for his company that they would wear on their uniforms.

“There’s a play here,” Stevens told him. He set to work on his new project and met another fireman named Patty Brown. Brown was in the rescue company and engineered the simultaneous rope rescue. One day Stevens witnessed his friend on the news and he was talking about the lack of gear that was available to them. Another light went off in Stevens’ head. He continued to work on the play but it eventually fell to the wayside.

On 9/11 Ron Scott Stevens lost both of his friends. Patty Brown had become a Captain and perished along with 11 other firefighters. Cherry’s company lost six.

It was time to pick up the playwright’s pen again and pay homage to his friends.

“I’m compelled to write,” Stevens said. “A play is a true expression of the celebration of life.”

He said his friend Lippe once told him, “Sometimes, things choose you.”

“Cherry’s Patch” can be seen at the Fair Harbor Firehouse on Saturday, August 26. Proceeds will benefit the volunteer fire department. All seats are only $10.00. “Cherry’s Patch” can also be seen in Manhattan from September 7 through September 17 at the SOHO Playhouse. To order tickets call (212) 691-1555.