In 1982, the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League Hall of Fame was officially founded by Jack Repass of East Hartford, Connecticut. Repass was the former University of Hartford Sports Information Director, an avid baseball historian and a talented infielder in the GHTBL. Efforts made by Repass immortalized many of Connecticut’s best ballplayers and contributors. Pete Naktenis, a left-handed hurler for the Mayflower Sales team was the first GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee. Naktenis pitched in the Hartford Twilight League before and after playing for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics.
GHTBL Hall of Fame inductees, managers, executives, umpires, sponsors, media contributors, and honorary members represent decades of commitment to the game of baseball throughout the Greater Hartford area. Perhaps the most celebrated GHTBL Hall of Famer was player-manager, Gene Johnson. Johnson was bestowed with the “Player of the Half Century Award” for his hitting and his defense at third base. After 7 years in the minor leagues, Johnson returned to the league to win 4 batting titles, multiple championships and 57 total years in the league.
To honor GHTBL Hall of Fame inductees, Jack Repass organized elaborate banquets. Over dinner, live music, toasts, prayers and speeches, inductions were held in earnest. Venues such as Valle’s Steak House in Hartford and Willie’s Steak House in Manchester hosted guests and members of the public for a per person fee. Honorees were handpicked by Repass who was also inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame. He passed away on November 10, 2001, at 77 years of age. When Repass died, Hartford Courant sportswriter, Bohdan Kolinsky wrote, “The link to Hartford’s baseball past is gone now.”