Tag: hall of fame

DiPietro to Enter Berlin High School Hall of Fame

Soon-to-be Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, Ryan DiPietro attended Eastern Connecticut State University, was drafted by both the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. He later played in the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League for five seasons with the Meriden Merchants franchise, now known as the Record-Journal Expos.

Published August 17, 2021 in the Record-Journal

The Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Sunday, Sept. 12 at the Aqua Turf. Leading up to the event, The Citizen is highlighting the accomplishments of the Hall of Fame Class of 2021. This week: Ryan DiPietro.

A member of the Class of 2002, DiPietro made an immediate impact on the baseball field. As a freshman in 1999, he stepped to the plate in the second round of the CIAC Class L state tournament and homered on the first pitch he saw. That also happened to be his very first varsity at-bat.

The Redcoats went on to claim the Class L crown, and DiPietro was on his way to legend status.

“My baseball roots are right here in Berlin,” DiPietro said. “We took pride in the success in town, Little League on up. And that 1999 state title team continued that tradition.”

Ryan DiPietro, 2001.

While DiPietro was a fine hitter and centerfielder, he is best known for his work on the mound. The lefty set BHS’s seven-inning  strikeout record (17), was 7-0 with a .085 ERA with two one-hitters as a junior and went 6-2 with a .050 ERA and 94 strikeouts as a senior.

DiPietro was an All-State and all-conference performer, and was selected MVP of the 2002 Senior All-Star game held at Fenway Park. Also in 2002, he led Berlin to the American Legion state championship, and was named tournament MVP.

DiPietro was selected by the the New York Mets in the 42nd round of the 2002 MLB draft, but he opted for college.

DiPietro would attend Eastern Connecticut State University, where he compiled a career record of 29-3 and, in 2004, helped propel ECSU to the national title game.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Eastern Connecticut, 2004.

A NCAA Division III All-American and Pitcher of the Year selection, DiPietro set ECSU records for strikeouts in a game (19), strikeouts in a season (162) and consecutive victories (19). He ranks second in career strikeouts (336) and starts in a season (15).

DiPietro was the sixth-round selection of the Kansas City Royals in 2005 and would play minor and independent league ball for seven years.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Burlington Bees, 2006.

DiPietro now works as an environmental inspector. He lives in Wallingford with his wife Rachel, sons Chase and Cal and daughter Hailey.

Also entering the Hall of Fame this year are Katelyn Zarotney (Class of 2010, basketball and volleyball), Max DeLorenzo (Class of 2010, football and basketball) and Cliff Landry (football and basketball coach 1954-61.)

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Meriden Merchants, 2016.

The ceremony for the Hall of Fame Class of 2020 was called off due to the coronavirus, so it will be inducted along with the Class of 2021. The Class of 2020 includes Steve Baccaro (Class of 1947), Phil Perretta (Class of 1961), John Steurer (Class of 1980), Cynthia Gozzo Dastoli (Class of 1990), Robert Manzo (Class of 1990), Allison Murphy Semenuk (Class of 2002), Matt Carasiti (Class of 2009), and the 1999 and 2000 state championship wrestling teams.

Ryan DiPietro, Pitcher, Meriden Expos, 2016.

Leo Durocher Got His Start in Hartford

Leo Ernest Durocher was born in 1905 in West Springfield, Massachusetts, as the youngest of four sons. His parents with French Canadian parents were George and Clarinda (Provost) Durocher and often spoke French at home. George Durocher worked on the railroad, for the Boston & Albany Railroad. At 5-feet-10, he grew to be the tallest of his brothers. His French-Canadian parents. Durocher dropped out of Springfield Technical High School after being suspended and never went back. Instead, he became a prominent semi-professional athlete and several employers competed to have him play for their company teams.

According to baseball historian Paul Dickson, Durocher was convinced to try for a professional club, the Hartford Senators:

“There’s a guy named David Redd, who’s a black man, who pushes and pushes and pushes Durocher to go try out for the Hartford team, which in those days was a semi-Yankee farm club,” Dickson says. “And Durocher does. Tries, fails once.”

Paul Dickson – WBUR, Robinson And Durocher’s Complicated — And Changing — Relationship

Having failed, Durocher was again encouraged to try out for the 1925 season again by his friend, David Redd. This time, he made the team and batted for an average of .220 in 536 at bats that season. As an infielder for Hartford, Durocher learned and grew his game under Manager Paddy O’Connor, a baseball lifer and former catcher of the 1909 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates. Durocher showed promise in Hartford under the lights at Clarkin Stadium and was called up to the New York Yankees lineup for 2 game appearances.

Leo Durocher is sold to the Yankees, 1925.

It would take two seasons in the Yankees farm system – Atlanta, Georgia and St. Paul, Minnesota – before his permanent call-up to the big leagues in 1928. He won his first World Series that same year as a teammate of Babe Ruth and another Hartford Senators alumnus, Lou Gehrig. Durocher would become known as one of baseball’s fiercest players and would achieve team and individual success.

As a captain of the St. Louis Cardinals “Gashouse Gang” in 1934, Durocher started shortstop and won another World Series. He also collected three National League All-Star game appearances. After the 1938 season with the Cardinals, Durocher became the Dodgers’ player-manager. In 1939, Durocher was named player-manager for the Dodgers and quickly became known for his dirt-kicking tirades against umpires. He also clashed with Brooklyn’s front office and claimed that he was fired and rehired by general manager Larry McPhail dozens of times.

In 24 years as a skipper for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, Durocher won 2,009 games, three pennants and a World Series. However, Durocher also became famous for his arguments with umpires, executives and players earned him a reputation as “The Lip.” His nickname was thought to have stemmed from his relationship with another diminutive Hall of Famer: Rabbit Maranville. While not an imposing hitter, Durocher’s scrappy play and maximum effort led Babe Ruth to call him “The All-American out.”

Leo Durocher, Manager, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1941.

Despite his antics, there was no doubt about Durocher’s record. In 1941, Durocher led the Dodgers, who were affectionately named “the Bums” by their own fans, to the franchise’s first pennant in 21 years.

“As long as I’ve got a chance to beat you, I’m going to take it.”

Leo Durocher, 1941.

In 1947, Commissioner Happy Chandler suspended Durocher for a year due to his “accumulation of unpleasant incidents” which included his accused association with gamblers. Led by Jackie Robinson, who Durocher staunchly supported when he broke the color barrier, the Dodgers captured the ’47 National League pennant.

In 1948, Durocher shocked the baseball world when he became manager of the Dodgers’ crosstown rival New York Giants – who he had famously referred to when he remarked that “nice guys finish last.” It was at the Polo Grounds where Durocher found his greatest success. In 1951, his Giants capped off an incredible 13½ game comeback on the Dodgers with Bobby Thomson’s famous “Shot Heard ’Round the World” homer to win the pennant. Three years later, Durocher and the Giants swept the heavily favored Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series.

Durocher with his wife, Laraine, Day, 1950.

Durocher left New York after the 1955 season and became a color commentator for NBC’s baseball broadcasts. He returned to the manager’s office with the Cubs in 1966 and served his final nine seasons in Chicago and Houston. Durocher retired in 1973 as the fifth-winningest manager in history, and second only to Hall of Famer John McGraw in the National League.

Casey Stengel, Manager, New York Yankees and Leo Durocher, Manager, New York Giants, 1951 World Series.

Upon his retirement, he ranked fifth all-time among managers with 2,009 career victories, second only to John McGraw in National League history. In 1965, Durocher co-authored an autobiography entitled, Nice Guys Finish Last. He lived a long life but passed away on October 7, 1991. Leo Durocher was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994.

Leo Durocher

Sources

  1. WBUR, Robinson And Durocher’s Complicated — And Changing — Relationship.
  2. Hartford Courant Database, Newspapers.com.
  3. Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball-Reference.com.
  4. Durocher, Leo, Baseball Hall of Fame, Baseballhall.org/Hall-of-Famers/Durocher-Leo.

Remembering Owen Canfield and his Twilight League Coverage

Owen Canfield Jr. was an esteemed Register Citizen sports columnist turned Hartford Courant editor who died on Saturday, November 30, 2019 in his hometown of Torrington, Connecticut. Canfield worked in the newspaper business for nearly 59 years reporting on several sports including baseball at the local and national level. He was known for his ease in connecting with people and for his comedic style of writing. He was 85 years old. Canfield was also a GHTBL Hall of Fame inductee, Media Division.

Hamilton Standard wins Twilight Playoffs by Owen Canfield, 1966.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1976.

Owen Canfield Jr. was born in Torrington, on February 1, 1934, to the late Owen F. Canfield, Sr. and Marjorie (Wheeler) Canfield. He graduated from Torrington High School in 1952 and spent four years in the Air Force, including some time in Korea during the Korean Conflict. He met his wife Ethel Riley, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, when he was stationed in St. Albans, Vermont. The Canfield’s became parents to 10 children and were lifelong parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church of Torrington.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1977.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1978.

He began his journalism career in 1960 at what was then called the Torrington Register. In mid-September of 1965, Canfield was hired at The Hartford Courant by legendary sports editor Bill Lee. Throughout his career, Canfield covered Jack Nicklaus’ Masters victory in 1986; Reggie Jackson’s 3-homer game in the World Series of 1978 at Yankee Stadium, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in Atlanta, Pete Rose’s base hit that broke Ty Cobb’s record and the NCAA tournament game in 1990 when Scot Burrell threw the pass and Tate George made the shot to beat Clemson.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1983.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1984.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1984.

Canfield became a 7-time Connecticut Sportswriter of the Year, a Torrington High School Hall of Fame and the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee. He penned special interest columns in the Hartford Courant on the Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League from 1966 until 1995 and was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame. Canfield retired in 1995 from The Courant after working at the paper for 30 years. He continued to write columns periodically through 2008 and then did the same for the Register Citizen until the final year of his life.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1985.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1990.

In his last article on March 30, 2019, Owen Canfield wrote, “Once I heard Mickey Mantle say in a TV interview that whenever he took a swing at a pitch, he swung with all his might. ‘I wanted to hit it as far as I could every time,’ said The Mick. I like that, and I like to think that whenever I submitted a column, I had swung with all my might, even if I struck out.”

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1993.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1995.

GHTBL Alumni Enter Hartford Public Hall of Fame

Among the inductees: Ed Skehan, 100 year old World War II Veteran.

On Sunday, November 4, 2018, a select group of former Hartford Twilight ballplayers were inducted into the Hartford Public High School Hall of Fame. Three of the four inductees are members of the GHTBL Hall of Fame joining three other GHTBL/HPHS Hall of Fame crossovers: MLB-alum Pete Naktenis, Johnny Dione, and Pete Sala.: 

Ed Skehan’s Amateur Baseball Career
– 1935 to 1937, Hartford Public High School.
– 1936, Lincoln Dairy, Hartford Twilight League.
– 1936, Prospect Tavern, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1937 to 1941, St. Lawrence O’Toole, Catholic League.
– 1937, East Hartford Red Sox, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1938, Pope Park Drug, Keene Senior Twilight League.
– 1941, Conrose All-Stars, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1942, Finasts, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1943, Owen’s All-Stars, East Hartford Twilight League.
– 1944, Joe Laing’s Spartans, a Hartford Twilight team turned semi-pro club based in Colt Park.
– 1948 to 1950, Hartford Fire Department.
– 1985, Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame (Gold Glove Division).

Edward Skehan (100 years old), class of 1937, was an outfielder on conference championship baseball teams at Hartford Public High School. In a game against LaSalette, Skehan led off with a home run and contributed two hits in the 8 to 4 win over the crosstown team. He would have many other multi-hit games and he played any position where HPHS Hall of Fame Coach Jimmy Woodworth needed him. Skehan became a utility player but would later find his niche at first base.

Ed Skehan turns 100 years old, 2018.

After high school, Skehan attended Hartford State Technical College, graduating in 1939. Skehan played amateur baseball for over 20 years in multiple local leagues. Most notable were the Greater Hartford Twilight League and the East Hartford Twilight League. He was a perennial all-star, a .300 hitter, and an outstanding defensive first baseman. 

Life was disrupted with the onset of World War II and soon Skehan was in the U.S. Army. He served from 1943 to 1946 as a Combat Engineer and spent two years in the European Theater.  He is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, a key turning point to facilitating the end of the war in Europe. 

In 1946, Skehan became a full-time employee at the City of Hartford Fire Department after working as a part-time firefighter in previous years. He would serve as a Hartford firefighter for 25 years.  While in the department he played on their highly competitive baseball and bowling teams. 

In 2017, at the age of 99, Ed Skehan was the guest of honor at the GHTBL’s Camp Courant Kids Day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.  The entire Skehan family celebrated their patriarch that day as Ed threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Ed Skehan throws out first pitch at Camp Courant Kids Day at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, 2017.

Jack Hines
– On the 1958 Robinson Builders team in the GHTBL.
– Played for the Riley Redlegs in the GHTBL from 1959 to 1961.
– 1962 Ames Construction team in the GHTBL.
– Manager of the 1963 Herb’s Sports Shop team in the GHTBL.   
– Manager of the Hartford entry into the Connecticut Summer Collegiate Baseball League.
– Manager of the 1965 Royal McBee team in the GHTBL. 
– Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1988.

Jack Hines, Hartford Public High School class of 1956, played on the varsity baseball and basketball teams.  In baseball, he was catcher and team captain. He caught HPHS Hall of Fame pitcher and minor leaguer, Pete Sala.  Jack was behind the plate in Sala’s 10 inning 1-0 shutout and win over New Britain and their flamethrower Steve Dalkowski.  His leadership helped the Owls to the City championship in 1956. In basketball he was on solid teams that were City Champs his junior and senior years.  

Jack Hines, Riley Redlegs accepts Hartford Twilight League trophy, 1959.

Jack played basketball at Central Connecticut State University after high school.  He began a long career in the Greater Hartford Twilight League, most notably as a manager.  In 1988 he was inducted into the GHTBL Hall of Fame.

Jack was involved in amateur athletics in Bristol for many years.  He also currently serves as the President of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame after serving as executive director and a board member. He authored the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame scholar–athlete ceremony that is named in his honor. In 2017 Jack Hines was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. Jack was also a founding Board member of the Hartford Public High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Jack has received the Bristol Boys & Girls Club Humanitarian award and the Bristol Tramps Chuck McCarthy award in 2008. Jack Hines also received an honorary degree from Tunxis Community College, the first the school ever granted. 

Jack Hines of Bristol, Connecticut.

Bill Wishinsky
– Hartford Insurance Group from 1969 to 1974
– Herb’s Sports Shop player-manager from 1975 to 1992.
– Inducted to GHTBL Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bill Wishinsky, class of 1967, was multi sport star, playing baseball and football.  In baseball he was one of Hartford Public’s greatest baseball players ever. He was an outstanding pitcher, but also a great hitter on strong teams in the mid 1960’s.  

In baseball, he lettered all four years. He was the winning pitcher in 19 games which is believed to be a school record. As a freshman he beat East Hartford 1-0 and struck out 8 batters for his first career win. Highlights of his sophomore year were beating Hall for his 5th win of the season and against Bulkeley, in a 7-2 win, he drove in 5 runs. 

His junior year was the winning pitcher in eight games. In a game against East Hartford he was the winning pitcher, had three hits, including a home run.  In a win over New London he had 5 hits, 2 of which were triples.

Bill Wishinksy

Some highlights of his senior year were five more wins as a pitcher.  He pitched 12 shutout innings against Norwich in a 0-0 tie. Bill was the winning pitcher in a 3-1 besting of Bulkeley and had 3 hits and a rbi. In another win over Fitch he collected three hits and drove in five runs. He was the winning pitcher over Bulkeley (4-3) to clinch the city title and tie for the CDC crown. He hit .438 as a senior.

Wishinsky also played football and was a solid fullback and outstanding punter. His punting was key in an 8-6 win over rival Bulkeley in 1965.

Bill Wishinsky served in the military as a Marine.  He had a short stint in the minor leagues before returning home and embarking on a long career in the Greater Hartford Twilight League.  He was a fixture playing and managing for Herbs Sports Shop. He won the league batting title in 1974.  He was inducted in the Twilight League Hall of Fame in 1995.

Bill Wishinsky (born: 1949 – passed away: 2017). 

Hartford Courant article on Bill Wishinsky, 1990.

Jake Fournier

– On the Society for Savings team in the GHTBL from 1991 to 1992
– On the Newman Lincoln-Mercury team in the GHTBL from 1993 to 1996 led by manager, Gene Johnson.
– Player for KGA in the GHTBL from 1999 to 2002 and later player-manager from 2003 to 2004.
– Player-manager of Bill’s Sport Shop in the GHTBL from 2005 to 2007.
– Player-manager of RMR Construction in the GHTBL from 2008 to 2010.
– Played part-time for the Ferguson Waterworks team in the GHTBL from 2012 to 2013. 
– Fournier made his final appearance in 2015 in a GHTBL game with the Ulbrich Clippers.

Jake Fournier, class of 1990, was a versatile athlete playing multiple positions and competing in four sports during his time at Hartford Public. He earned at total of seven varsity letters.

In football, as a senior, Fournier played tight end and led the team in receiving and was also the punter, averaging over 40 yards per kick. He also threw an 82-yard option for a TD to tie South Windsor. Fournier was part of the group that helped transition Hartford Public football from the tough years in the 1980’s back to being a state power in the 1990’s.  Fournier lettered two years in basketball on strong teams that were city and conference champions in 1990 with an 18-4 record.

In baseball, Fournier earned a varsity letter three times and was team captain twice.  He was named All-CCC after his Junior and Senior season.  The HPHS baseball team made the state tournament his Sophomore year.

Jake Fournier hit a grand slam for Newman Lincoln Mercury of the GHTBL, 1994.

Fournier was the valedictorian of his class and was accepted at Yale University. While at Yale he played baseball as a walk on for two years.  In his Senior year, he earned the starting catcher spot and had an outstanding season.  He hit .301 and led the team in walks as Yale won the Ivy League championship.

After college Fournier explored professional baseball opportunities but decided to move to Portland, Oregon.  While there he met his future wife and played in very competitive amateur baseball leagues while on the west coast. He moved home to Connecticut in 1998 and continued his amateur baseball career as a key player for manager and leader in the the GHTBL. 

Fournier has coached his son’s team in Mayor Mike’s Little League in Hartford for the past five years. He has also has coached basketball locally in a travel league. Congratulations to Jake and the entire Fournier family! 

Jake Fournier of Hartford, Connecticut.

Remembering Buzzy Levin, GHTBL Hall of Famer

Buzzy Levin, Malloves Jewelers of Middletown owner, was a generous GHTBL sponsor.

Jerome “Buzzy” Levin, 90, passed away in the early hours of June 2, 2017. His last days were spent in his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, surrounded by his loving family, friends and the wonderful staff on the 7th floor of Middlesex Hospital. Buzzy was born on September 24, 1926, in Middletown where he lived alongside his beautiful wife of nearly 60 years, Harriet Levin. Buzzy believed in family and community above all from the very beginning.

Buzzy Levin

After enduring the loss of his father, Max Levin, at the young age of 13 and passing up the opportunity to play professional baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Buzzy took over the family business, Malloves Jewelers, from his mother, Beatrice Levin and his uncle, Joseph Levine, in 1957. Buzzy served as President of the business until 1992, when he handed over the reins to his son, Marc Levin. During his years of retirement in Florida, the Malloves staff, whom Buzzy thought of as family, welcomed him back with open arms to work in the store throughout the summer and Christmas holidays.

Whether Buzzy was volunteering as the bat boy for the Wesleyan baseball team under Jack Blott, playing semipro ball in the starting lineup for the Middletown Giants from 1941 until 1951, or earning himself one of three lifetime hole-in-ones on the golf course, Buzzy was happiest when a ball, bat and club were within reach. In 1948, alongside Bernie O’Rourke, Buzzy founded the Middletown Chapter of Little League baseball. Within 2 years of starting the first chapter in New England, they had 160 chapters up and running throughout the area.

Marc Levin and Buzzy Levin (right)

Buzzy served as the President of the Middletown Chapter for 7 years and the Little League District 9 Commissioner for 33 years, instituting a rule at both the local and national level which stated that every player on a team had to bat once and complete a full inning on the field, ensuring that all kids were given a fair chance to play the game he loved most. Buzzy was a lifetime member of the Middletown Little League Association.

After sponsoring a Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League from 1980 until 1993, Buzzy went on to help college players in the New England area compete on the same level as the players in the Cape Cod League by organizing the first New England Collegiate Baseball League and establishing a franchise in Middletown, for which he served as the General Manager for 8 years. Buzzy was the driving force behind the installation of lights at Palmer Field.

Buzzy proudly served on the Middletown Common Council from 1964 until 1975, playing a vocal role in every commission and committee during his 6 terms in office. He was a lifelong member of Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, the same synagogue his father rebuilt in 1929, where he followed in his father’s footsteps by assuming the role of President from 1969 to 1971.

Malloves Jewelers, 1990.

He was also a member of the Middletown Elks, the Kiwanis Club, the B’Nai B’rith, the Middletown Jaycees, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, the Connecticut Retail Jewelers Association (Vice President), the Middletown Transit Authority, the Middletown Park and Recreation Board (Chairman for 9 years), the Russell Library Building Committee and the Middletown High School Building Committee. In addition, he served as Corporator of both Middlesex Hospital and Liberty Bank, and sat on the Board of Home Bank. As someone who valued the importance of old friendships, Buzzy was instrumental in coordinating the Woodrow Wilson High School Class of 1944 reunions for over 65 years.

He was inducted into the Greater Hartford Twilight League Hall of Fame in 1987 for his contributions as a generous sponsor of the Malloves Jewelers franchise for 14 years. Buzzy was also inducted into the Xavier Hall of Honors in 1994, and the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He received the Connecticut Sports Writers Good Guy Award in 1988, the Middlesex County Chamber Distinguished Citizen Award in 1996, and the NECBL Executive of the Year Award in 2001.

Malloves Jewelers baseball team, GHTBL

Upon retiring to Florida in 1992, Buzzy served as President of the Foxhollow Condominium Association and was elected to a seat on the Foxfire Country Club Board. Buzzy will be forever missed and his legacy carried on by his wife, Harriet, his children, Marc (Judith) Levin and Faith (Craig) Irwin, his grandchildren, Marissa and Billy Irwin, his three grand dogs, Maggie, Daisy and Willow, and his beloved Malloves family.