“21” HALL OF FAME ATHLETE’S FEATURED IN THE HALL OF FAME DINING & BANQUET ROOM
Jeffrey Robert Bagwell (born May 27, 1968) in Boston, MA, as the only son of Janice (née Hare) and Robert Bagwell, Jeff Bagwell and his family moved to Killingworth when he was one year old. Bagwell graduated from Xavier High School, a private all-male Catholic school located in Middletown. A versatile athlete, he excelled at soccer, setting the school goal-scoring mark, played shortstop, and lettered in basketball. In early 1989, Bagwell was honored by Xavier for his character and generosity. He also excelled in American Legion Baseball under coach Fred Tremalgia for Post 75 in Middletown and went on to be named the 2003 American Legion Baseball Graduate of the Year. Former major league pitcher Bill Denehy, coach of the Hawks college baseball team for the University of Hartford in Connecticut, offered Bagwell a scholarship in spite of baseball not being his primary sport. Bagwell accepted the invitation and Denehy switched him to third base. Over three seasons playing for Hartford, he batted .413 in 400 at bats, a school record, and, for a time, a New England collegiate record. He also was the school’s career home run (31) and run batted in (126) leader when he was drafted, and a two-time Eastern College Athletic Conference player of the year.
Jeff spent his entire 15-year Major League Baseball career with the Houston Astros. Originally a Boston Red Sox fourth-round selection from the University of Hartford as a third baseman in the 1989 amateur draft, he was then traded to the Astros in 1990. The National League (NL) Rookie of the Year in 1991, Bagwell then won the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1994, was a four-time MLB All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger winner and a Gold Glove recipient. Forming a core part of Astros lineups with Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman given the epithet “Killer B’s”, Houston finished in first or second place in the National League Central division in 11 of 12 seasons from 1994 to 2005. They qualified for the playoffs six times, culminating in Bagwell’s lone World Series appearance in 2005. He was elected to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Bagwell hit 449 home runs for the Astros, the most in club history, among setting numerous other franchise career and single-season records. He excelled at every major aspect of the game, including hitting, on-base ability, running, defense, and throwing. One of the most consistent players of his generation, in each of his first 11 seasons, he produced no fewer than 4.7 wins above replacement (WAR) per Baseball-Reference.com. His 1994 season was perhaps his finest. As the fourth unanimous NL MVP in history, he set the record for fewest plate appearances to reach both 100 runs scored and 100 runs batted in, produced a .750 slugging percentage − the highest in the NL since 1925 − while batting a career-high .368. In 1999, he finished second in the MVP voting, producing his second career 30–30 season.
The only player in MLB history to achieve six consecutive seasons (1996–2001) with each of 30 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 100 walks, Bagwell is just the fifth to achieve 300 home runs, 1,000 RBI, and 1,000 runs scored in his first 10 seasons. He is just one of 12 players in history to hit 400 home runs and record an on-base percentage (OBP) of .400, and the only first baseman with at least 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases. Overall, Bagwell batted over .300 six times, had a career OBP of .408 (39th all-time) and a slugging percentage of .540 (32nd all-time). He is the only first baseman to achieve the 30–30 club more than once. His 79.6 career WAR per Baseball-Reference.com ranks sixth all-time among first basemen.
Julius Nicholas Boros was born March 3, 1920 in Fairfield and went on to play varsity baseball at The Junior College of Connecticut. He worked as an accountant, played high-standard amateur golf, and did not turn professional until 1949, when he was already 29 years old. He passed away May 28, 1994.
Boros won 18 PGA Tour events, including three major championships: the 1952 and 1963 U.S Opens and the 1968 PGA Championship. He won his first by four strokes in the heat at the Northwood Club in Dallas, also his first PGA Tour victory, which interrupted the U.S. Open streak of 36-hole leader Ben Hogan for a year. In the windy 1963 U.S. Open near Boston, Boros defeated Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in a playoff, after all had finished the 72 holes at a post-war record nine over par. Boros remains the oldest player ever to win a modern major in 1968, taking the PGA Championship in San Antonio by a stroke at the age of 48. One of the runners-up was Palmer, who never won the PGA Championship to complete his career grand slam. The previous oldest winner of a major was Jerry Barber, age 45 in 1961. Boros’ best results among the majors were at the U.S. Open, with nine top-five finishes; he contended in that championship as late as 1973, at age 53.
Boros was a member of the Ryder Cup team in 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1967. He was PGA Player of the Year in 1952 and 1963, and his total career PGA Tour earnings were $1,004,861. Boros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1982.
While other players often walked around a hole and studied the green for several minutes before putting – sometimes from their knees, Boros is remembered for not wasting any time. He would walk up to ball and “just do it”. Noted for his relaxed, nonchalant looking swing and manner, he is remembered for his catch phrase “swing easy, hit hard”. Boros had an exceptional short game.
Boros was also instrumental in starting the Senior PGA Tour in the late 1970’s. The exciting televised playoff victory of Boros and partner Robert De Vicenzo over Tommy Bolt and Art Wall Jr. at the Legends of Golf Tournament in 1979 raised the profile of professional senior golf competition.
Morgan Gardner Bulkeley was born December 26, 1837 in East Haddam and attended Hartford Public High School. He passed away November 6, 1922 at age 84.
His father, State Senator Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, was a descendant of the Reverend Peter Bulkeley, 8 generations removed. Peter Bulkeley was the founder of Concord Massachusetts and sailed to this country from England on the ship Susan & Ellen in May of 1635. Morgan Bulkeley’s mother Lydia-Smith Morgan descended from passengers of the Mayflower more than 200 years prior.
He was educated at Bacon Academy in Colchester just like his father and his cousins on both sides. In 1846, the Bulkeley family moved to Hartford. Morgan’s father, Eliphalet Adams Bulkeley, was prominent in the Connecticut Republican Party and helped found the Aetna Life Insurance Company, becoming its first president in 1853. He was also a descendant of the third President of Harvard University, Charles Chauncy. Morgan Bulkeley attended Hartford Public High School and, at age 14, started working at the Aetna sweeping floors for a dollar a day along with his brother, Charles.
Bulkeley left Hartford to work for his uncle’s company, H. P. Morgan & Company, in Brooklyn, New York. He was an errand boy in Brooklyn in 1852 and later worked as a salesman.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Bulkeley enlisted with the Thirteenth New York Volunteer Heavy Artillery as a private for the Union Army. He served from May 28, 1862 until September 28, 1862. He served under General George B. McClellan in the Peninsula Campaign and later under General Joseph K. Mansfield. His brother, Captain Charles E. Bulkeley, was killed during the war.
After the Civil War, Bulkeley returned to Morgan & Company. When his father died in 1872, Bulkeley returned to Hartford and helped form the United States Bank of Hartford, becoming its first president.He later served on Aetna’s board of directors.
Morgan was an American politician as well as business and sports executive. Bulkeley, a Republican, he was a Hartford city councilman and bank president, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the first president of the National League, and became a four-term mayor of Hartford, the 54th Governor of Connecticut for two terms and a United States Senator while serving as the third president of the Aetna Life Insurance Company for 43 years.
After returning to Hartford in the early days of professional baseball, Bulkeley formed the Hartford Dark Blues of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in 1874. In 1875, the team featured Hall of Fame pitcher Candy Cummings and player-manager Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson. In 1876, the NAPBBP was replaced by the National League. Hartford was one of the charter members and Bulkeley was named the league’s first president. In his only season as president, he targeted illegal gambling, drinking and fan rowdiness. After the season, he was replaced as president by William Hulbert. Bulkeley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in 1937, 15 years after his death. He was also one of the seven members of the Mills Commission formed by Albert Spalding, the group that gave credence to the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball.
At the time of his death, Bulkeley had been the president of Aetna for 43 years and had increased its assets from $25.7 million to $207 million and from 29 to 1,500 employees. Under his guidance, Aetna had been transformed from a life insurance company into a company that offered accident, health, automobile,workers compensation, and group insurance. He was succeeded by his nephew, Morgan Brainard, who led Aetna for the following 35 years.
He was a member of the Freemasons, Society of the Cincinnati, Grand Army of the Republic, Sons of the Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars and the Military Order of Foreign Wars. In 1894 he was elected as a Hereditary Companion of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States by right of inheritance from his brother, Captain Charles E. Bulkeley, was killed during the Civil War.
The Hartford Bridge over the Connecticut River was renamed the Bulkeley Bridge in his honor after his death.
Walter Chauncey Camp was born April 7, 1859 in New Britian, the son of Everett Lee and Ellen Sophia (Cornwell) Camp, attended Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, entered Yale College in 1875, where his studies were interrupted first by an outbreak of typhoid fever and then by work for the Manhattan Watch Company he graduated in 1882.
On June 30, 1888, Camp married Alice Graham Sumner, sister of sociologist William Graham Sumner. They had two children: Walter Camp, Jr. (born 1891), who attended Yale as well and Janet Camp Troxell (born 1897).
He played college football at Yale from 1876 to 1882, after which he briefly studied at Yale School of Medicine. Camp served as the head football coach at Yale from 1888 to 1892 before moving to Stanford University, where he coached in December 1892 and in 1894 and 1895. Camp’s Yale teams of 1888, 1891, and 1892 have been recognized as national champions. Camp was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.
Camp was an American football player, coach, and sports writer known as the “Father of American Football”.
Camp was on the various collegiate football rules committees that developed the American game from his time as a player at Yale until his death. English Rugby rules at the time required a tackled player, when the ball was “fairly held,” to put the ball down immediately for scrummage. Camp proposed at the U.S. College Football 1880 rules convention that the contested scrimmage be replaced with a “line of scrimmage” where the team with the ball started with uncontested possession. This change effectively created the evolution of the modern game of American football from its rugby football origins.
He is credited with innovations such as the snap-back from center, the system of downs, and the points system as well as the introduction of the now-standard offensive arrangement of players—a seven-man line and a four-man backfield consisting of a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback. Camp was also responsible for introducing the “safety,” the awarding of two points to the defensive side for tackling a ball carrier in his own end zone followed by a free kick by the offense from its own 20-yard line to restart play. This is significant as rugby union has no point value award for this action, but instead awards a scrum to the attacking side five meters from the goal line.
Along with John Heisman, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Fielding H. Yost and George Halas, Camp was one of the most accomplished persons in the early history of American football.
Camp wrote articles and books on the gridiron and sports in general, annually publishing an “All-American” team. By the time of his death March 14, 1925, he had written nearly 30 books and more than 250 magazine articles.
Roger Connor was born in Waterbury July 1, 1857. He was the son of Irish immigrants Mortimer Connor and Catherine Sullivan Connor. His father had arrived in the United States only five years before Roger’s birth. The family lived in the Irish section of Waterbury, known as the Abrigador district, which was separated from the rest of the city by a large granite hill. Connor was the third of eleven children born to the family, though two did not survive childhood. Connor left school around age 12 to work with his father at the local brass works.
Connor entered professional baseball with the Waterbury Monitors of the Eastern League in 1876. Though he was left-handed, Connor was initially a third baseman; in early baseball, left-handed third basemen were more common than they are in modern baseball. He came to the National League (NL) in 1880 as a member of the Troy Trojans.
Roger was a 19th-century Major League Baseball (MLB) player. He played for several teams, but his longest tenure was in New York, where he was responsible for the New York Gothams becoming known as the Giants. He was the player whom Babe Ruth succeeded as the all-time home run champion. Connor hit 138 home runs during his 18-year career, and his career home run record stood for 23 years after his retirement in 1897.
In Connor’s first year with the Troy Trojans, he teamed with future Hall of Fame players Dan Brouthers, Buck Ewing, Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch, all of whom were just starting their careers. Also on that 1880 Trojans team, though much older, was player-manager Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson. Though Connor, Ferguson and Welch were regularly in the lineup, the other future stars each played in only a handful of the team’s 83 games that season. The team finished in fourth place with a 41-42 win-loss record. Connor committed 60 errors in 83 games and sustained a shoulder injury, prompting a position change to first baseman for 1881.
He later played for the New York Gothams, and, due to his great stature, gave that team the enduring nickname “Giants”. Connor hit baseball’s first grand slam on September 10, 1881. His grand slam came with two outs and his team down three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, a situation known today as a walk-off home run. George Vecsey, in The New York Times wrote: “Roger Connor was a complete player — a deft first baseman and an agile base runner who hit 233 triple and stole 244 bases despite his size (6 feet 3 inches and 200 pounds).”
In 1886, Connor and his wife Angeline had a daughter named Lulu, she died as an infant. Connor interpreted the baby’s death as God’s punishment for marrying Angeline, who was not Catholic. Angeline had secretly begun receiving Catholic education and was planning to surprise Connor by getting baptized on the day that Lulu would have turned a year old. The couple later adopted a girl named Cecelia from a Catholic orphanage in New York City. Roger and Angeline Connor lived in Waterbury, Connecticut for many years, even while Roger played in New York. Every winter, a banquet was held in Waterbury in Connor’s honor. Near the end of the 19th century, Angeline gave Roger a weather vane which had been constructed from two of his baseball bats. The weather vane served as a well-known landmark in Waterbury even after the couple moved away.
He led the NL with a .371 average in 1885. On September 11, 1886, Connor hit a ball completely out of the Polo Grounds, a very difficult park in which to hit home runs. He hit the pitch from Boston’s Old Hoss Radbourn over the right field fence and onto 112th Street. The New York Times reported of the feat, “He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field.” A group of fans with the New York Stock Exchange took up a collection for Connor and bought him a $500 gold watch in honor of the home run.
Another New York baseball team, also known as the Giants, emerged with the founding of the Players’ League (PL) in 1890. Several players from the NL team left for the new league’s Giants team, including future Hall of Famers Connor, Keefe, Jim O’Rourke and Hank O’Day. In 123 games, Connor registered 169 hits, a .349 batting average, 14 home runs, 103 runs batted in (RBI) and 22 stolen bases. His home run total led the league and it represented the only major league single-season home run title that he won. Connor experimented with some changes to his batting style that year. He hit more balls to the opposite field and he sometimes batted right-handed, though he did not have much success from the right side. Though Connor had success in his season with the PL, the league struggled. Some of the teams ran into financial difficulties. National League teams rescheduled many of their games to conflict with PL games in the same cities, and a high number of PL games were cancelled late in the season due to rainouts. Connor was optimistic that the league would be successful in 1891, but it officially broke up that January.
Returning to the NL Giants for a season in 1891, Connor hit .294. In the offseason before 1892, Connor signed with the Philadelphia Athletics. The team broke up shortly after Connor signed, and his contract was awarded to the Philadelphia Phillies for that year. He returned to the Giants in 1893, raising his average to .322 and hitting 11 home runs. During the 1894 season, the Giants looked toward the team’s youth and Connor lost his starting position to Jack Doyle. He was released that year and picked up by the St. Louis Browns. The next year, his brother Joe Connor made his major league debut with the same team. Joe played two games with St. Louis before being sent back down to the minor leagues. That year’s St. Louis team finished with a 39-92 record, 48 1⁄2 games out of first place.
Connor was released by the Browns in May 1897 after starting the season with a .227 batting average. His major league playing career was over. While a major league player, Connor was regularly among the league leaders in batting average and home runs. Connor’s career mark of 138 was a benchmark not surpassed until 1921 by Babe Ruth. He finished his career with a .317 batting average. Connor finished in the top ten in batting average ten times, all between 1880 and 1891. Over an 18 year career, Connor finished in the top ten for doubles ten times, finished in the top three for triples seven times and remains fifth all-time in triples with 233. He also established his power credentials by finishing in the top ten in RBI ten times and top ten in homers twelve times.
Connor signed with the Fall River Indians of the New England League in June 1897. Connor attracted some attention by wearing eyeglasses on the field. He hit cleanup, played first base and was popular among fans. In 1898, Connor moved back to his hometown of Waterbury and purchased the local minor league team. He served as president, manager and played first base on the side. Connor’s wife Angeline kept the team’s books and his daughter helped by collecting tickets. Joe Connor was the team’s catcher; he later returned to the major leagues for several seasons. After the 1899 season, Connor expressed satisfaction with his Waterbury team, saying that the team played well and did not lose money despite not getting strong attendance numbers at their games.
In 1901, Connor became interested in purchasing the minor league franchise in Hartford, Connecticut. The team had been dropped from the Eastern League and had suffered financial losses related to traveling as far away as Canada for games. Connor proposed that he might purchase the team and attempt to have it admitted to the State Baseball League, decreasing its travel requirements. However, upon selling the Waterbury club at the end of that season, he bought the Springfield franchise in the same league
In September 1903, Connor announced his retirement from baseball and placed his team up for sale. He had made a similar statement the year before and apparently on a frequent basis before that. In June 1902, the local newspaper said, “Roger bobs up every summer and makes his farewell to the baseball public.” His 1903 retirement was earnest though; he attended a 1904 Springfield-Norwich game as a retired spectator.
Connor worked as a school inspector in Waterbury until 1920. He lived to see his career home run record bested by Babe Ruth, although if it was celebrated, it might have been on the wrong day. At one time, Connor’s record was thought to be 131, per the Sporting News book Daguerreotypes. As late as the 1980s, in the MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia, it was thought to be 136. However, John Tattersall’s 1975 Home Run Handbook, a publication of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), credited Connor with 138. Both MLB.com and the independent Baseball-Reference.com now consider Connor’s total to be 138.
Roger and Angeline Connor lived in Waterbury, for many years, even while Roger played in New York. Every winter, a banquet was held in Waterbury in Connor’s honor. Near the end of the 19th century, Angeline gave Roger a weather vane which had been constructed from two of his baseball bats. The weather vane served as a well-known landmark in Waterbury even after the couple moved away. Connor died on January 4, 1931, following a lengthy stomach illness. He was 73. A news article after his death said that his “likeable personality and his colorful action made him an idol.” He was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Waterbury.
The Veteran’s Committee inducted Roger Connor into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem had long campaigned on behalf of Connor’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame(see article below), partly because of these notable accomplishments: eight 100 runs scored seasons (1885, 1886, 1887, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893), four 100 RBI Seasons (1887, 1889, 1890, 1893), two triples titles (1882, 1886), two slugging titles (1889, 1890), and he led his league in each of these stats once; bases on balls (1888), batting average (1885), doubles (1892), hits (1885), on base percentage (1885), RBIs (1889), singles (1885) and total bases (1885).
NEW YORK (AP): You’re no kid if you saw Roger Connor play major league baseball. And you’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of him, even if you are a baseball buff. But the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee remembered him Monday after dusting off some old record books. They showed that Connor, who died 45 years ago in his native Waterbury, Conn. had a .325 major league batting mark through 18 seasons (with) four National League clubs from 1880 to 1897. It also showed that when he broke in as a third baseman he threw left-handed, not uncommon in those dead ball days, but primarily was a first baseman. His best year was 1887 when he hit .383 with 17 home runs for New York. In that season bases on balls counted as base hits.
“To New Yorkers, he was a superstar, and so much so that in 1915 a cub reporter, covering a Connecticut school game, came to understand just how much of an idol he was. Still a hero eighteen years after hanging up his cleats, Connor, a tall man with a handle-bar moustache could make kids stop in the streets and stand at respectful attention as he drove by in his horse-drawn buggy, making his daily rounds of the public schools.” – Author David Quentin Voigt in American Baseball.
Decades after his death, Waterbury citizens and baseball fans raised enough money to purchase a headstone at his grave, which was dedicated in a 2001 ceremony.
Dorothy Stuart Hamill was born July 26, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois, to Chalmers and Carol Hamill. Her father was a mechanical engineer. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich where Hamill spent the rest of her childhood. She has two older siblings, a brother, Sandy, and a sister, Marcia.
Hamill first started skating in early 1965 at the age of 8, taking once-a-week group lessons. She became more serious about the sport the next season, taking regular private lessons and passing her preliminary and first figure test before the seasonal rink closed in March. She would wake early in the morning to go to the rink for practice at 4:30 am. Hamill was first coached by Otto Gold and Gustave Lussi. Ice time was limited in her area, so she eventually began training at Sky Rink in New York City, staying overnight in the city with friends when possible. In the summers, Hamill trained in Lake Placid, New York and later in Toronto with her coach at the time, Sonya Dunfield. During her career, her father would spend up to $20,000 a year on her skating expenses, including skating lessons, travel, living expenses, and costumes.
Until the spring of 1970, Hamill attended public schools in Riverside, but at that point she switched to a small school with flexible tutoring to accommodate her skating schedule. She attended and graduated from Colorado Academy high school.
Hamill’s first national success came in 1969, when she won the novice ladies’ title at the U.S. Championships at the age of 12. Later that spring, Hamill was invited to perform in Madison Square Garden with the exhibition tour (in later years known as Champions on Ice ) that followed the 1969 World Figure Skating Championships. She placed second at the junior level at the 1970 Championships, and made her senior debut in 1971. The U.S. Figure Skating Association arranged for her to be coached by Carlo Fassi when she began to compete internationally.
Hamill was U.S. champion from 1974 to 1976. At the 1974 World Championships in Munich, Germany. Germany, she was in 3rd place after the compulsory figures and the short program. She was set to skate directly after the German skater Gerti Schanderl, whose marks were booed while Hamill was already on the ice. Visibly upset, Hamill left the ice and burst into tears. After the crowd settled down, she returned to the ice and won the silver medal behind Christine Errath of East Germany. Hamill won silver again at the World Championships in 1975 at Colorado Springs, Colorado behind Dianne de Leeuw of the Netherlands and ahead of Errath.
Hamill was disappointed by her performance at the 1976 U.S. Championships, admitting that she was outskated by Linda Fratianne because she had not trained properly. Immediately after the national championships, her coach Carlo Fassi left the U.S. to accompany his other star pupil, John Curry, to the European Championships, leaving Hamill coachless with the Olympics only a few weeks away. She began training with Peter Burrows instead. She was pleased with their work together and wanted to bring him to the Olympics as her coach of record. However, the USFSA refused her request and she was reunited with Fassi for a brief period of training in Germany before the Olympics.
At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, Hamill came in second in the figures and then won the short and long programs, taking the gold medal. She was the last single’s skater to win the Olympics without a triple jump. Hamill also won the 1976 World Championships and then turned professional.
Hamill is credited with developing a new skating move — a camel spin that turns into a sit spin – which became known as the “Hamill camel.” The bobbed hairstyle that she wore during her Olympic performance was created by stylist Yusuke Suga and started a fad. Her glasses with oversized frames also started a trend in the 1970’s. The media dubbed her “America’s sweetheart.”
Hamill was an Ice Capades headliner from 1977–1984. She was asked to join Ice Capades by Donna Atwood, who had been its star for years and who had eventually acquired financial control of the Ice Capades. Hamill was asked to be Atwood’s successor as its new star.After Ice Capades folded due to competition and changing tastes, Hamill bought the financially strapped company’s assets in 1993 in an effort to revive its earlier success, but she eventually sold it to Pat Robertson’s International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995.
In 1993, the Associated Press released results of a national sports study, showing that Hamill was statistically tied for first place with fellow Olympian, Mary Lou Retton as the most popular athlete in America ranking far ahead of other major sports stars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Wayne gretzky, Joe Montana, Nolan Ryan and 800 other athletes.
Hamill has continued to skate in shows, including a regular principal role with Broadway on Ice. She was a special guest in the Brian Boitano-Barry Manilow skating extravaganza at AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2007.
In February 2013, it was revealed that Hamill would take part in the sixteenth season of Dancing with the Stars, partnering with Tristan MacManus. After only two dances, on March 26, 2013 she was forced to withdraw from the competition upon advice from her spine surgeon due to a severe strain on her lower back which was caused during practice.
Hamill is a retired American figure skater. She is the Gold medal 1976 Olympic champion in ladies’ singles and the 1976 World champion.
- Olympic Champion (1976)
- World Champion (1976)
- Three-time United States National Champion (1974–1976)
- Invented the Hamill camel, a camel spin followed by a sit spin
Edward Hugh “Ned” Hanlon was born August 22, 1857 in Montville to his parents Terrance and Mary Hanlon immigrants from Ireland. In 1870, Hanlon’s father worked as a railroad laborer while Ned, at age 13, along with his older brother James (age 14) and younger brother O’Brien (age 11) worked in a cotton mill to help support the family. By 1880, the family had moved a few miles south to New London, where Hanlon’s father, three brothers (James, Bryon and Terrance) and a step-sister (Clara Blake) were all working in a cotton mill. Ned was saved from life in the mill by his talent for baseball. The 1880 census recorded his occupation, in contrast to his other family members, as a professional ball player. Ed Hanlon died in Baltimore, Maryland on April 14, 1937.
Hanlon also known as “Foxy Ned” and sometimes referred to as “The Father of Modern Baseball,” was an American professional baseball player and manager whose career spanned from 1876 to 1914. He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 by vote of the Veterans Committee.
Hanlon played 13 seasons in Major League Baseball, principally as a center fielder. He played in over 800 games as an outfielder for the Detroit Wolverines, remaining with the team during all eight years of its existence from 1881 to 1888. He compiled a career batting average of .260 and an on-base percentage of .325 with 930 runs scored and 1,317 hits. Although stolen base records are not available for the early portion of his playing career, Hanlon stole 329 bases (an average of 55 per year) in his last six years as a full-time player.
During the winter of 1888–89, Hanlon traveled to Hawaii, Australia, Ceylon, Arabia, Egypt, Europe, and the British Isles as part of Albert Spalding‘s “Around the World Baseball Tour”. Baseball games were held between the Chicago White Stockings and a picked team called the “All-Americans”; Hanlon played center field for the “All-Americans”.
Hanlon was a manager in Major League Baseball from 1889 to 1907, compiling a 1,313–1,164 (.530) record with five different clubs. He is best remembered as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles (1892–1898) and Brooklyn Superbas (1899–1905). In the seven seasons from 1894 to 1900, Hanlon compiled a 635–315 (.668) record, and his teams won five National League pennants. During his years with the Orioles, Hanlon was also credited with inventing and perfecting the “inside baseball” strategy, including the “hit and run” play and the Baltimore chop.
While Hanlon was not able to immediately turn the Orioles into a winning club, he quickly evaluated the talent available and looked for new talent elsewhere. By 1894, only three players from the 1892 opening lineup (John McGraw, Wilbert Robinson and pitcher Sadie McMahon) remained on the roster. Hanlon’s efforts to revamp the club included the following:
- Shortstop John McGraw had played only 33 major league games with a .270 batting average before the 1892 season. Under Hanlon’s tutelage, McGraw became one of the best players in the game, compiling batting averages of .340 in 1894, .369 in 1895, and .325 in 1898. McGraw was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Catcher Wilbert Robinson was with the Orioles when Hanlon arrived, but had compiled a .216 batting average in six prior seasons. With Hanlon’s guidance, Robinson hit .334 in 1893, .353 in 1894, and .347 in 1896. Robinson was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- In September 1892, Hanlon showed nerve in trading George Van Haltren to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Joe Kelley and cash. Van Haltren was the Orioles’ best hitter, a veteran who had hit compiled a .324 batting average from 1889 to 1891. Kelley was a rookie outfielder who hit .239 for the 1892 Pirates. Kelley promptly became one of the best players in the game, batting .393 in 1894, .365 in 1895 and .364 in 1896. Kelley was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- In June 1893, Hanlon acquired shortstop Hughie Jennings in exchange for Tim O’Rourke in a trade with the Louisville Colonels. O’Rourke had been a consistent .300 hitter before the trade, but never hit above .282 after the trade. Jennings had compiled a .242 average with Louisville in three seasons before the trade. At Baltimore, Jennings led the league in fielding percentage every year from 1894 to 1897, and he hit .335 in 1894, .386 in 1895, and .401 in 1896. Jennings was later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- In January 1894, Hanlon negotiated a remarkably one-sided trade with the Brooklyn Grooms, acquiring Dan Brouthers and Willie Keeler in exchange for Billy Shindle and George Treadway. Brouthers was an established slugger who had been teammates with Hanlon in Detroit. Brouthers hit .347 and drove in 127 runs for the 1894 Orioles. Keeler had played only 41 games before joining the Orioles, but under Hanlon’s guidance, Keeler hit .371 in 1894, .377 in 1895, .386 in 1896, and won batting titles in 1897 and 1898 with averages of .424 and .385. Shindle hit .274 in five seasons with Brooklyn, while Treadway hit .301 for two seasons in Brooklyn and was then out of the major leagues. Brouthers and Keeler were both inducted into the Hall of Fame.
For his efforts in building Baltimore’s championship teams, Hanlon developed a reputation for having a keen eye for talent. The Sporting News later wrote that he had “an almost uncanny ability to judge players, a faculty of imparting to them his remarkable store of knowledge, a genius for inspiring his men to rise to the heights and a personality that enabled him to gain and hold the confidence of all with whom he came into contact.”
During his years in Baltimore, Hanlon became known as “Foxy Ned” and was credited with inventing a new strategy that came to be known as “inside” baseball. The strategy focused on teamwork, speed and execution, and encompassed the hit and run play, the squeeze play, the sacrifice bunt, the double steal, and the Baltimore chop. The Sporting News wrote that Hanlon’s “introduction and perfection of ‘inside baseball'” had “initiated and brought to their highest point of efficiency the hit and run, bunt, sacrifice, chop hit, and base running, always doing the unexpected.” A writer in The Baltimore Sun noted, “It occurred to [Hanlon] that a run gained by strategy counted as big as a run gained by slugging. Accordingly, he evolved an offensive technique that made baseball into something of an art.”
Hanlon introduced the hit and run play during the 1894 season. He took the Orioles to Macon, Georgia, for spring training, a move that was called a “goofy venture” in the press. While in Macon, he practiced and perfected the hit and run. In the opening series of the 1894 season against the New York Giants, Hanlon’s players ran the hit and run 13 times. New York manager John Montgomery Ward objected to the tactic, claiming that Hanlon “wasn’t playing baseball, but a new game.” The tactic was deemed to be legal, and Hanlon proudly demonstrated it for fans before games started during the 1894 season.
Hanlon’s Orioles were also known for their opportunistic play, Willie Keeler famously declaring, “Hit ’em where they ain’t.” Having been a particularly weak batter against left-handed pitchers, Hanlon learned from his own weakness and was one of the first managers to employ the platoon system, switching players in the lineup depending on whether the opposing pitcher was left- or right-handed.
Connie Mack, who was a player on Hanlon’s 1891 Pittsburgh club and then an opponent as manager of the Pirates from 1894 to 1896, said, “I always rated Ned Hanlon as the greatest leader baseball ever had. I don’t believe any man lived who knew as much baseball as he did.”
Hanlon’s strategic innovations led The Sporting News to call him “the game’s greatest strategist” and led many to call him “The Father of Modern Baseball.”
At the time of Hanlon’s death in April 1937, the Baseball Hall of Fame had not inducted any managers. However, The Sporting News observed at the time that, when the Hall was ready to begin inducting the game’s leading managers, Hanlon’s place would be assured based on his accomplishments that had “left an indelible print on the annals of the game.” Yet, even when the Hall began inducting managers, beginning in December 1937 with two of Hanlon’s former players-turned-managers (John McGraw and Connie Mack), Hanlon was overlooked for another 59 years, though he was named to the Hall’s Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946.
Hanlon was not without nay-sayers who questioned his contributions to the championship teams in Baltimore and Brooklyn. Some opined that the credit for the five pennants rested entirely with his Hall of Fame players—John McGraw, Joe Kelley, Hughie Jennings and Willie Keeler. In fact, Hanlon had a 304–441 (.408) record in the portion of his career when he did not have Willie Keeler on his teams. One prominent critic was Sam Crawford who was interviewed in the 1960s—long after Hanlon and most of his colleagues had been deceased – for Lawrence Ritter’s book, The Glory of Their Times. Although Crawford never played for Hanlon, and did not become a major league starter until 1900, Crawford made the following claim:
Ned Hanlon used to manage that Baltimore club, but those old veterans didn’t pay any attention to him. Heck, they all knew baseball inside out… Those old Baltimore Orioles didn’t pay any more attention to Ned Hanlon, their manager, than they did to the batboy… He was a bench manager in civilian clothes. When things would get a little tough in a game, Hanlon would sit there on the bench and wring his hands and start telling some of the old-timers what to do. They’d look at him and say, ‘For Christ’s sake, just keep quiet and leave us alone. We’ll win this ball game if you only shut up.’
In 1995, John Steadman of The Baltimore Sun published an article urging Hanlon’s induction. Steadman pointed to Hanlon’s strategic innovations as being worthy of the Hall, and suggested that Hanlon’s omission may have been the result of having committed an “unpardonable sin” in suing Major League Baseball for violation of the antitrust laws. In 1996, Hanlon was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame by vote of the Veterans Committee.
Joan Joyce born August 18, 1940, in Waterbury, she was a star volleyball player at Crosby High School in Waterbury and later played in amateur leagues and served as an official. As a teenager she had a 180 bowling average and sought out the best competition she could find. She pursued basketball another childhood love at Chapman College, where she was a three-time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-American. She took up golf while teaching at Waterbury Catholic High School after College.
Joyce played for the Brakettes from 1954–1963, the Lionettes from 1964-1966, and again the Brakettes from 1967–1975, In her career, she racked up many of the sports’ records, which have yet to be broken:
- Most consecutive all-star team selections (18)
- Eight-time MVP in the National Tournament (1961, 1963, 1968, 1971 (co-MVP), 1973, 1974, and 1975)
- Most victories in a season (42) (in 1974)
- Two no-hit, no-run games in National Tournament (four times)
- Shutouts in a season (38 in 1974)
- Most innings pitched in a game (29 in 1968 against Perkasie)
- Career doubles (153)
- Doubles in a season (22 in 1968)
- Career triples (67)
- Brakettes team batting champion (1960, 1962, 1967–69, 1973)
- Highest batting average (.467 in 1971)
Her pitches were extremely fast at over 70 miles per hour. She pitched 150 no-hitters and 50 perfect games, with a lifetime earned run average of 0.09. In her record-setting 42-win season, she pitched 38 shutouts. Her 1974 Brakettes team was the first American team to win the world championship.
In exhibition games, she struck out Ted Williams at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1961 (also during a brief stint in 1966) and Hank Aaron in 1978.
Joyce was co-founder (with Billie Jean King, Jim Jorgensen, and Dennis Murphy) of the Women’s Professional Softball League in 1976 and the coach and part owner of the Connecticut Falcons team, which won the Championship all four years of the league’s history.
She is now a coach at Florida Atlantic University, having coached softball since 1994 and women’s golf since 1996. In softball, she has never had a losing season in 18 years as a coach. As of 2011, Joyce’s Owls team has nine conference championships and 714 victories. In her first two seasons (1995 and 1996), the Owls were Atlantic Sun Conference runners-up, then won the next eight championships. They took second in 2005, then won again in 2006. Joyce was named Coach of the Year in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002.
After softball, she joined the LPGA Tour, which she was on from 1977–1994. Her best finishes included sixth-place in tournaments in 1981, 1982 and 1984, including a round of 66. She is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for lowest number of putts (17) in a single round (both men and women), set at the 1982 Lady Michelob.
Joyce served as player and coach in the United States Volleyball Association with the Connecticut Clippers. She competed in four national tournaments, and was named to the All-East Regional team.
Joyce played on the USA women’s national basketball team in 1964 and 1965, setting a national tournament single game scoring record in 1964 with 67 points. She was a four-time Women’s Basketball Association All-American, and a three-time Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-America player.
Brian Leetch was born March 3, 1968, he starred in baseball and hockey, first at Cheshire High School and then at Avon Old Farms. As a sophomore, his 90-mph fastball helped the Cheshire Rams baseball team to a state championship and as a senior at Avon Old Farms, he set the school record for strikeouts in a game with 19. Hockey, however, was the sport in which he most excelled. As a sophomore at Cheshire, he scored 53 goals and 50 assists, earning All-state honors.
In two seasons with Avon Old Farms he scored 70 goals and 90 assists in 54 games. These numbers were especially remarkable for a defenseman. NHL scouts were starting to take notice and the New York Rangers chose Leetch as their first-round pick (9th overall) in 1986, making him the first player drafted that year who did not play major junior hockey. Following in the footsteps of his father Jack, Brian enrolled at Boston College in the fall of 1986, and, like his father, would become an All-America defenseman for the Eagles.
Leetch is a retired American professional Ice hockey defenseman who played 18 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins. He is generally considered one of the top defensemen in NHL history, being particularly noted for his skating, offense, and playmaking abilities. He and fellow Rangers teammate Mike Richter were inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. Leetch was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto the following year (his first year of eligibility) 2009.
Leetch accumulated many individual honors during his 18-year career. He was a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman (1992, 1997) and was the first American-born winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP for his performance during the Rangers’ run to the 1994 Stanley Cup championship. Leetch is one of only five NHL defensemen to score 100 points in a season with his 102-point campaign in 1991–92. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1989 and his 23 goals that season remain an NHL record for rookie defensemen. Leetch’s number 2 was retired by the Rangers on January 24, 2008. During the ceremony, longtime teammate Mark Messier referred to Leetch as the single “Greatest Ranger of All Time.”
Kristine Marie Lilly Heavy was born July 22, 1971 and attended Wilton High School. While still attending high school, Lilly became a member of the United States women’s national team.
She was recruited by, and eventually chose to attend, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lilly competed as a student-athlete, playing for the university’s North Carolina Tar Heels women’s soccer team from 1989 to 1992. During her time there, she won the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship every year she played. She won the Hermann Trophy as a junior in 1991. To honor her time with the school, North Carolina retired her #15 jersey in 1994.
Lilly is a retired American soccer player who last played professionally for Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). She was a member of the United States women’s national soccer team for 24 years and is the most capped soccer player in the history of the sport, a feat accomplished by no other men’s or women’s player, gaining her 352nd and final cap against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier in November 2010. Lilly scored 130 goals for the United States women’s national team, behind Mia Hamm’s 158 goals and Abby Wambach’s 184 goals.
Lilly made her debut for the United States women’s national soccer team in 1987, when she was still attending high school. During her international career, she surpassed the previous women’s world record of 151 caps, held by Norway’s Heidi Store, on May 21, 1998. On January 30, 1999, she surpassed what was then the men’s record of 164 caps, held by Adnan Al-Talyani of the United Arab Emirates.
Lilly has participated in the 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She is a two-time World Cup champion, winning in 1991 and 1999. When she played against North Korea on September 11, 2007, in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she became the first woman (and only the third player overall) to participate in five different World Cup Finals; by scoring a goal against England on September 22, 2007, she became the oldest woman to score in the World Cup.
Lilly has also competed in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 editions of the Olympic Games. She won a gold medal in 1996 and 2004, and a silver medal in 2000. She missed the 2008 Summer Olympics due to the birth of her child.
On January 18, 2006, Lilly made her 300th international appearance in a game against Norway. In the same match, she equaled Michelle Akers for second place on the team’s all-time goal scoring list with 105. Lilly was named as a finalist for the2006 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She finished second in the voting to Brazil’s Marta.
Kristine Lilly; altogether played in 46 matches and scored 12 goals at those eight global tournaments. With her USA teams, in eight world cup and Olympic tournaments, Lilly had 39 wins, 3 losses, and 4 draws; finished first place with her teams 4 times, second place once and third place 3 times.
Floyd Douglas Little was born July 4, 1942 in New Haven.
Little was the only three-time All-American running back to compete for the Syracuse University Orangemen. Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and was a three-time Collegiate All-American running back at Syracuse University. He would finish 5th in Heisman Trophy voting in both 1965 and 1966.
- 1964: 157 carries for 874 yards and 9 TD. 17 catches for 257 yards and 1 TD.
- 1965: 193 carries for 1065 yards and 14 TD. 21 catches for 248 yards and 1 TD.
- 1966: 162 carries for 811 yards and 12 TD. 13 catches for 86 yards and 2 TD.
In 1967 he was the 6th selection of the first common AFL-NFL draft. He was the first ever first-round draft pick to sign with the American Football League‘s Denver Broncos, where he was known simply as “The Franchise.”
In 1975, Little retired as the NFL’s 7th all-time leading rusher with 6,323 yards rushing and 54 total touchdowns (rushing, receiving and returns). He also threw a TD pass to receiver Jerry Simmons in a 1972 upset over the Oakland Raiders. During his rookie year, Little led the NFL in punt returns with a 16.9-yard average. He led the NFL in combined yards in 1967 and 1968. Little was Denver Broncos team captain all 9 seasons, including his rookie season.
Little was a charter member of the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1984, which included Rich Jackson, Lionel Taylor and Goose Gonsoulin. He was the first Bronco to win a rushing title, leading the AFC in rushing in 1970 with 901 yards and the following year he became the first Bronco to eclipse 1,000 yards, gaining 1,133 to lead the NFL. Little was the first player to lead his conference in rushing for a last place team and the 13th player ever in professional football to rush for at least 1,000 yards in one season. He was an American Football League All-Star in 1968, named first-team “All-AFL” in 1969, and made the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in 1970, 1971 and 1973. At 5’10” and 195 pounds, Little was the smallest back to lead the league in rushing since World War II. He led the league in combined yards in 1967 and 1968 and was the only player to return punts for TDs in both seasons. During a 6-year period, 1968–1973, Little rushed for more yards and more yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) than any RB in the NFL.
In 2009 Little was a finalist for induction into the Hall of Fame. He was voted in on February 6, 2010, his induction took place in Canton, OH on August 7, 2010.
On September 15, 2011, the New Haven Athletic Center, billed as the largest scholastic athletics facility in New England, was renamed the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Donna Lopiano born September 11, 1946, in Stamford. At the age of sixteen, she was presented with the opportunity to play for the Brakettes, a national championship women’s softball team located in Stratford. By the following year, Lopiano found herself touring Europe and Asia with a team of women she came to view as strong mentors. Throughout the years, she would look to a lot of her teammates, many of whom were older than she, as role models, including fellow player, and softball legend Joan Joyce. Between tournaments, Lopiano finished high school and pursued her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Southern Connecticut State University. She would also receive her doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1972, the same year she helped lead the Brakettes to a national title.
After the 1972 season, Lopiano left the Brakettes after only ten years, a career some people considered relatively short, but Lopiano had other dreams to pursue. She had earned a position as an assistant athletic director at Brooklyn College, where she also enjoyed coaching basketball, volleyball, and softball. In 1975, she moved to Austin, TX to become the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women at the University of Texas. Here, her programs for women athletes won eighteen national championships in six sports and produced 314 All-Americans. As Lopiano herself was always committed to her studies, she made sure that her athletes were, too. Under her guard, the mean SAT scores of her players went up 100 points.
Lopiano became known for holding her coaches responsible both for winning and for insuring the satisfactory progress of their athletes toward a degree. She also made major strides in achieving financial equity for her programs, with most women coaches receiving the same salaries as their male counterparts. In 1992, Lopiano became the Chief Executive Officer for the Women’s Sports Foundation and made it her mission to ensure school athletic programs throughout the country were compliant with Title IX. She maintained this role until 2007.
Lopiano is the author of dozens of publications, holds two honorary doctorates, and in 1995 was noted as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Sports” by Sporting News. In addition to the Softball Hall of Fame, Lopiano has been inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fameand is a member of the national honors committee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Donna Lopiano is the founder and president of Sports Management Resources, a firm that links experienced consultants with schools to help build strong athletic programs. She continues to highlight women in athletics through articles and interviews and maintains the fight to provide young women with opportunities in athletics.
Calvin Jerome Murphy was born May 9, 1948. Before basketball, Calvin Murphy was a world-class baton twirler. He says he was “bullied into it” as his mother and all six of her sisters were twirlers. As an 8th grader, in 1963, he won a national championship in baton twirling. His reputation as a twirler earned him invitations to perform at major sporting events and the 1964 New York World’s Fair. In 1977, at the height of his basketball career in Houston, Murphy won the Texas State Men’s Twirling Championship.
Calvin played basketball for Norwalk High School, where he was All-State three times and All-America twice. He is a member of the Connecticut Coaches Association Hall of Fame and a Connecticut Sportswriters Gold Key Award winner. Norwalk High School’s address is now 23 Calvin Murphy Rd. in his honor.
Murphy attended Niagara University, where he was a three-time All-American. He scored 2,548 points in 77 games (33.1 points per game).One of his best games was a 68 point outing against Syracuse University at Niagara’s Gallagher Center. In 1970, he led Niagara to the NCAA tournament and advanced to the second round, where they lost to Villanova. During his career he was famous for being one of “The Three M’s,” along with Pete Maravich and Rick Mount, both of whom were NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball All-Americans at the same time as Murphy.
Calvin Murphy was drafted by the San Diego Rockets (now the Houston Rockets) as the first pick in the second round (18th overall) of the 1970 NBA Draft. In his first season, Murphy was nominated to the NBA All-Rookie team. A diminutive guard at 5 feet 9 inches, Murphy was known for his quickness and defensive ability. Murphy was one of the best free-throw shooters ever, setting NBA records for most consecutive free throws made and for the highest free throw percentage in a single season (1980-1981). Both records have since been broken. He set many other records within the Rockets organization, including that of all-time leading scorer until that record was broken in 1994 by Hakeem Olajuwon. The Rockets made it to the NBA Finals in 1981, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games. After retiring from the NBA in 1983, Calvin Murphy was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983.
James Henry O’Rourke was born on September 1, 1850 East Bridgeport, and worked on his family’s farm while playing youth league and semi-pro baseball.
He began his professional career as a member of the Middletown Mansfields in 1872, joining the one-year-old National Association team as a catcher. The Mansfields were not a top-tier team, and folded in August, but O’Rourke had impressed other teams sufficiently enough to be offered a contract with the Boston Red Stockings, with whom he played until 1878. On April 22, 1876, O’Rourke had the first base hit in National League history.
He graduated from Yale Law School in 1887 with an LL.B., practicing law in Bridgeport between early playing stints, and earning the nickname “Orator Jim” because of his verbosity on the field, his intellect, and his law degree—uncommon in a game regarded as a rough immigrant sport at the time.
O’Rourke nicknamed “Orator Jim”, was an American professional baseball player in the National Association and Major league Baseball who played primarily as a Left Fielder. For the period 1876–1892, he ranks behind only Cap Anson in career major league games played (1644), hits (2146), at-bats (6884), doubles (392) and total bases (2936), and behind only Harry Stovey in runs scored (1370).
After leaving the major leagues following the 1893 season he continued to play in the minor leagues until he was over 50 years old. As an executive of the Bridgeport team in the Connecticut League, in 1895 O’Rourke hired the first African American minor league baseball player in history.
In 1904 he made a final appearance with the New York Giants under manager and friend John McGraw, becoming at age 54 the oldest player ever to appear in the National League, and the oldest player to hit safely in a major league game. O’Rourke is one of only 29 players in baseball history to appear in Major League games in four decades.
One legend concerning O’Rourke is that he was asked to drop the “O'” from his last name when he signed a contract with Boston and its Protestant backers. The son of Irish immigrants and the husband of a woman born in Ireland, O’Rourke refused, saying “I would rather die than give up my father’s name. A million dollars would not tempt me.”
Another legend about O’Rourke is that his signing by the Mansfields in 1872 was conditioned on the team finding someone to take over O’Rourke’s chores on his parents’ farm.
In 1912 returned to the field to catch a complete minor league game at the age of 60
“O’Rourke has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. As a thrower, too, he stands pre-eminent, being credited with a throw of 365 feet, the next to the longest yet accomplished by any player.” — The Sporting Life
O’Rourke died of pneumonia at age 68 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945 as one of the earliest inductees from the 19th century. His older brother John O’Rourke and his son James “Queenie” O’Rourke also played in the majors.
Guglielmo Papaleo, ‘Willie Pep” was born September 19, 1922 in Middletown.
Willie was an American professional boxer, boxing a total of 1,956 rounds in the 241 bouts during his 26-year career, a considerable number of rounds and fights even for a fighter of his era. His final record was 229-11-1 with 65 knockouts. Pep, known for his speed and finesse, is considered to be one of the best fighters of the 20th century and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. Pep was voted as the #1 featherweight of the 20th Century by the Associated Press and ranked the #1 featherweight of all-time by the International Boxing Research Organization in 2005.
Pep first fought as an amateur in 1937. At the time, amateur boxers from Connecticut were allowed to fight for money. It was during the Great Depression hit and Pep’s father was earning $15 per week at the Works Progress Administration. Willie was soon earning more in one night of fighting each week. When his parents found out he was boxing, his mother was worried for him, but his father said that if he was making so much fighting on Fridays, maybe he should see about fighting on Tuesdays as well. “My old man, he was a sports fan” Pep later quipped.
In 1938 Pep fought Sugar Ray Robinson in the attic of a feed store in Norwich, CT. Outweighing Pep nearly 130 to 105, the bigger Robinson won by decision. According to Pep’s later telling, Robinson was an amateur champion in the state of New York, where amateurs were not paid, so he took a pseudonym to get bouts for money in Connecticut. Because of this, Pep did not know who he was fighting at the time. Before the fight he was told his unknown opponent was not good, but he recalls quickly learning otherwise once the bout began and Robinson was “all over me.”
Pep started boxing professionally on July 10, 1940, beating James McGovern by a decision in four rounds in Hartford. Like many boxers of the first half of the 20th century, Pep concentrated his early fighting career on boxing in New England, and he split his first 25 contests between Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was undefeated during that span and for fight number 26, he finally headed ‘west,’ beating Eddie Flores by a knockout in the first round at Thompsonville, Michigan. A couple of fights later, he traveled further west and made his California debut, beating Billy Spencer by a decision in four at Los Angeles.
By the time Pep stepped up his quality of opposition, when he met world title challenger Joey Archibald in 1942, Pep was already 41-0. He beat Archibald by a decision in ten rounds and, in his next bout, challenged Abe Denner for the New England-area featherweight title. He won the fight by a decision in 12, and his status among the world’s top featherweights kept on rising. He won ten more bouts to reach 52-0, including a rematch win over Archibald, before he was given his first world championship try in October. He became the World Featherweight Champion by outpointing the defending world champ Chalky Wright over the 15 round distance. He fought twice more to finish the year, winning both by knockout.
Pep began 1943 by winning six bouts in a row to find himself with a record of 62-0. But in his seventh bout of 1943, he suffered his first defeat, at the hands of Sammy Angott, another world champion boxer. Angott beat Pep over the ten round distance, by decision. Ten days later, Pep was back in the ring, beating Bobby McIntyre by a decision. He closed 1943 winning five fights in a row, including two over future world champion Sal Bartolo and one over Jackie Wilson. The second win over Bartolo was in a defense of the world title.
1944 was a very good year for Pep. He won all 16 of his bouts that year, including wins over World Bantamweight Champions Willie Joyce and Manuel Ortiz. He fought and beat Wright two more times, with Pep’s featherweight title on the line once. He also made his first fight abroad, beating fringe contender Jackie Lemus in Canada.
He had eight fights in 1945, winning seven and drawing one. He beat former world champion Phil Terranova to retain the title, and had a ten round draw with Jimmy McAllister.
In 1946, Pep had 18 fights, and won all of them, including a 12-round knockout of Bartolo and a three round knockout of Wright. He had a 6-fight knockout win streak during a span that year.
Despite being severely injured in a plane crash on January 5, Pep fought 10 bouts in 1947, again going undefeated. Many thought he had lost something as a fighter, especially after unexpectedly struggling in fights against Archie Wilmer (Pep won a majority decision) and Pedro Biesca (Pep was floored in the fourth round). He defended the world featherweight belt once that year, knocking out Jock Leslie in twelve rounds at Flint, Michigan.
1948 was a year that would become important in Pep’s life: He won 15 bouts before going into what would be the first fight of his four-fight series with Sandy Saddler. He retained the title by beating Humberto Sierra by a knockout in 10 and he beat former world champion Paddy DeMarco, also in ten, but by decision. Then, on October 29, he lost the world featherweight title to Saddler in a fourth round knockout.
After two wins, he and Saddler met in 1949. On their rivalry’s second installment, Pep recovered the World Featherweight Championship by beating Saddler in a 15 round decision, and then he engaged in a series of exhibition and ten round bouts before defending the crown against Eddie Campo, winning by a knockout in the seventh. He finished that year beating former Bantamweight Champion Harold Dade by a decision in ten at St. Louis.
In 1950, he won nine fights before meeting Saddler for a third time. Those nine bouts included defenses against Charlie Riley, knocked out in five, and France’s Ray Famechon, beaten by decision in 15. Then came the third fight with Saddler. Pep once again lost his World Featherweight Championship to Saddler, being unable to come out for the eighth round due to a separated shoulder suffered at the end of the seventh round. Pep was ahead on all scorecards (5-2, 5-2, 4-2).
1951 brought over a hint of controversy to Pep’s life. He won eight bouts in a row to start the year, but his ninth bout, the last chapter of the rivalry with Saddler, was his most important bout that year. Pep quit because blood from his right eye was bothering him. According to Nat Fleischer in The Ring, December 1951, page 3, this was an extremely dirty fight, with “wrestling, heeling, eye gouging, tripping, thumbing- in fact every dirty trick known to the old timers..” Referee Ray Miller “let the bout get out of hand…” “The pattern of the ‘contest’ never varied. Pep wouldn’t make a fight of it and Sandy couldn’t. Pep too frequently backed around the ring and Saddler just as often missed as he kept boring in trying to corner his man. Then when he did, the rowdy tactics got under way and ended only when either both were sprawled on the canvas still wrestling each other, or the referee was outside the ring trying pull the boys apart or both fighters and official were entangled in a pretzel formation on the ring floor.” Pep was ahead on the scorecards of the officials after eight rounds, but he quit after nine rounds, “declaring he no longer could continue because of severe pains caused by a deep cut over the right eye.”
In 1952, Pep had 12 fights, winning 11. He was knocked out in six by Tommy Collins, but also held two wins over Billy Lima that year.
Pep won all 11 fights in 1953, and entered 1954 on a 17-fight winning streak. After beating David Seabrooke by a decision, he met fringe contender Lulu Perez and Pep lost by a knockout in two rounds. Pep ended up winning three more bouts before the end of the year.
Pep went on boxing for 5 more years, retiring in 1960, and then he came back in 1964 and boxed for two more years. During that last period of his boxing career, he won 43 bouts and lost only 5, but his only opponent of note during that time was Hogan Kid Bassey, a future World Featherweight Champion who knocked Pep out in nine rounds. Pep boxed in Venezuela, losing to Sonny Leon by a decision in ten, and in his last fight, in 1966, he lost to Calvin Woodland by a decision in six.
Pep had a record of 229 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw, with 65 wins by knockout.
After retiring, he remained active in boxing after hanging up the gloves, serving as an inspector and referee.
In 1977, Pep was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
As of March 2006, Pep resided at a nursing home in Connecticut, suffering from dementia pugilistica, before his death on November 23, 2006. He is buried in Rocky Hill and left four children, William “Billy” Papaleo, Mary Papaleo, Michael Papaleo and Melissa Papaleo, and three stepchildren, April, L.J. and Holly Miller.
Jennifer Rizzotti was born May 15, 1974 and attended new Fairfield High School, she is the daughter of Tom Rizzotti and Carol Rizzotti. Rizzotti married University of Hartford assistant, Bill Sullivan in July 1999. The two welcomed their first child on April 16, 2005. His name is Holden Thomas Sullivan. The couple’s second child, Conor, was born on July 8, 2008.
Jennifer is a retired American collegiate and professional basketball player, and current Division I coach at the University of Hartford. The basketball court at the New Fairfield town park was named after Rizzotti in honor of her achievements.
From 1992 to 1996, she starred on the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut. She was the starting point guard on the Huskies first national championship team in 1995, which recorded a perfect season, winning all 35 games. Rizzotti’s picture was on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in recognition of the perfect season. Jen was awarded the prestigious Honda-Broderick Cup for 1995-96, presented to the athlete “most deserving of recognition as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year”. She was named the 1996 Associated Press Player of the Year. Rizzotti was a member of the inaugural class of inductees to the University of Connecticut women’s basketball “Huskies of Honor” recognition program.Rizzotti won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award during the 1995-96 basketball season. This award is given to the best women’s basketball player in the country under 5’6′ tall. During the 1995-96 season Jennifer set school records for assists with 212 and steals with 112. Jennifer graduated with a degree in biology.
Sports Illustrated did a series of thirteen photographs featuring players and team member of teams chasing or achieving perfect seasons—an entire season without a loss. The cover photo of Jennifer Rizzoti racing upcourt is one of the photos in the collection.
Rizzotti was invited to be a member of the Jones Cup team representing the USA in 1996. She helped the team to a 9–0 record, and the gold medal in the event. Rizzotti averaged 2.6 points per games, while recording 26 assists, highest on the team.
She began her career as a professional basketball player playing for the New England Blizzard, of the now defunct American Basketball League. During that time she was a 2-time All-Star, Rizzotti was a member of the Houston Comets after being drafted in 1999, and played for the Comets in 1999 and 2000. The Comets won the League Championship both seasons. In 2001 she was traded to the Detroit Shock, but a month later, she was traded to the Cleveland Rockers. She played for the Cleveland Rockers from 2001-2003. Rizzotti was selected in the dispersal draft by the Detroit Shock in January 2004, but she retired from the WNBA
Rizzotti was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame in 2001.
Rizzotti was honored by her alma mater, the University of Connecticut, as the winner of the Red O’Neill Award, an award given annually to a former student athlete who has “gone on to distinguish themselves in their chosen career”.
Rizzotti is currently in her 15th season as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Hartford, where she has led the Hawks to four America East Conference championships and four trips to the NCAA Tournament. She was named America East Coach of the Year in the 2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons. In 2010 Rizzotti guided Hartford to an undefeated regular season in the America East Conference, and was one of the 10 finalists up for the Kay Yow Coach of the Year.
Rizzotti was honored by The University of Hartford in 2010, as Commencement speaker. Additionally she received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University.
Rizzotti served as the head coach of the USA Basketball U18 team, at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in June 2010 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs CO. She previously served as an assistant coach of the U18 team, assisting head coach Doug Bruno in 2006, when the team went 4-0 to win the gold medal.
In 2011, Rizzotti was named USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. She was the head coach for the USA U18 team, which won the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. She continued as head coach of the U19 team and guided the team to another gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship games held in Chile.
Rizzotti was inducted in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2013. In her emotional acceptance speech she summarized, “”I’m in the Hall of Fame because I played at the right school, at the right time with the right teammates, and I was taught to be a champion by the best coach who’s ever coached the game.” Her credentials included point guard on the 1995 National Championship team, and winner of the Wade Trophy and AP national player of the year award.
Andrew Richard “Andy” Robustelli was born December 6, 1925 in Stamford and attended Stamford High School, where he excelled in football and baseball.
At age 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS William C. Cole in the Pacific Theater.
After the war, he attended Arnold College, in Milford, where he played both football and baseball.
A two-way end at Arnold College, Robustelli was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the nineteenth round of the 1951 NFL Draft . In June, of the same year, he was offered a tryout with the New York Giants baseball club. The Giants offered Robustelli a $400 contract to play with their minor league affiliate Knoxville Smokies.
Considered a long shot to make the team the Rams were impressed with his determination and toughness as a defensive end and he not only made the team, he was an All-Pro in 1953 and 1955. He played for the Rams until he was traded to the New York Giants in 1956.
Robustelli spent nine seasons with the Giants, playing for six conference champions and one NFL championship team. He was a starter on the Giants defense from 1956 until his retirement after the 1964 season. In Robustelli’s first season, the Giants won the NFL championship and after that they won Eastern Division titles in 1958, ’59, ’61, ’62, and ’63, losing in the NFL championship game each time, in 1958 and 1959 to the Baltimore Colts, in 1961 and 1962 to the Green Bay Packers and in 1963 to the Chicago Bears. With the Giants, Robustelli was an All-Pro from 1956 through 1960. He received the 1962 Bert Bell Award as best player in the NFL, one of the few defensive players to do so. He played in 174 NFL games, missing only one in his career. He recovered 22 fumbles in his career (the NFL record when he retired) and intercepted two passes, both going for touchdowns.
Although small for a defensive end at 6’0″ and 230 pounds, Robustelli was exceptionally smart, quick, strong and known as a superb pass rusher. Robustelli also holds the distinction of being the only football player to have played in the first two nationally televised NFL games.
Robustelli returned to the Giants as an administrator in 1974 when he was appointed the ballclub’s Director of Operations. He took over a team whose 2–11–1 record the previous season was the worst in the National Football Conference (NFC). The Giants had to play home games at the Yale Bowl in 1974 and Shea Stadium in 1975 before they were finally able to move into Giants Stadium in 1976. The Giants never had a winning record during Robustelli’s six years in the front office. Its best finish during that span was 6–10–0 in 1978. The finish to the 19–17 debacle to the Philadelphis Eagles on November 19 that season, known to Giants fans as simply “The Fumble,” hastened Robustelli’s departure from his duties as general manager. He was succeeded by George Young following that campaign.
After his retirement as an active player, Robustelli spent one year (1965) as a color analyst for NBC‘s coverage of the American Football League. That same year he purchased Stamford-based Westheim Travel and renamed it Robustelli Travel Services, Inc. Specializing in corporate travel management, it grew into Robustelli World Travel by the time it was sold to Hogg Robinson Group in 2006.
He also founded National Professional Athletes|National Professional Athletes (NPA), a sports marketing business which arranged appearances by sports celebrities at corporate functions, and International Equities, which evolved into Robustelli Merchandise Services. The latter eventually became the foundation for Robustelli Corporate Services.
Robustelli is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. He was named Walter Camp Man of the Year in 1988.
Robustelli died on May 31, 2011 from complications following a gallbladder surgery.
William Henry “Bill” Rodgers born December 23, 1947 in Hartford.
Rodgers received his B.A. in sociology from Wesleyan University. One of his teammates, Amby Burfoot, won the Boston Marathon while still a student and went on to edit Runner’s World magazine. Rodgers also has an MS in special education from Boston College.
He is an American runner and former American record holder who best known for his four victories in the Boston Marathon, including three straight 1978-1980 and the New York City Marathon between 1976 and 1980.
Rodgers won both races four times each between 1975 and 1980, twice breaking the American record at Boston with a time of 2:09:55 in 1975 and a 2:09:27 in 1979. In 1977 he won the Fukuoka Marathon, making him the only runner ever to hold the championship of all three major marathons at the same time. He made the 1976 U.S. Olympic team and raced the marathon at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, finishing 40th. He did not participate in the Olympics in 1980 due to the U.S. boycott over the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR. Rodgers is also the last U.S.-born winner in the men’s or women’s open divisions of the New York City Marathon to date; the two subsequent American winners were born in Cuba (Alberto Salazar) and Eritrea (Meb Keflezighi).
In 1975 Rodgers won the bronze medal at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, equaling Tracy Smith’s 1966 bronze in the International Cross Country Championships as the highest an American had ever finished in international cross country competition. Rodgers’ most remarkable year on the road racing circuit came in 1978 when he won 27 of the 30 races he entered, including the Pepsi 10 km nationals (with a new world road 10 km best time of 28:36.3), the Falmouth Road Race, and the Boston & New York marathons. Rodgers is also the former world record holder for 25 kilometers as he broke Pekka Päivärinta‘s world record with a time of 1:14.11.8 on a track at West Valley College in Saratoga, California in 1979.
Track & Field News ranked Rodgers #1 in the world in the marathon in 1975, 1977 and 1979. Of the 59 marathons Rodgers ran, 28 were run under 2:15. In all he won 22 marathons in his career. He came to be referred to by sportswriters and others as “Boston Billy”.
Rodgers was inducted on December 3, 1999, in Los Angeles, California to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame located in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1998, Rodgers was inducted in the first round to the National Distance Running Hall of Fame in Utica, New York.
Awards and distinctions
- 1973 AAU All-American Long Distance Team (20K)
- 1975 National AAU- DI Benadato Award – Best Athletic Performance
- 1975 Nominated Sullivan Award (placed second)
- 1975 Ranked #1 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1976 Ranked #6 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1976 Member U.S. Olympic Team – Montreal, Canada
- 1976 AAU All-American Track & Field Team (10K)
- 1977 Ranked #1 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1978 Ranked #2 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1979 Ranked #1 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1981 Ranked #7 in the World in the Marathon by Track & Field News
- 1989 New York Road Runners Club Abebe Bikila Award
- 1989 Tiffany’s Man of Achievement Award
- 1990 RRCA Masters of the Year Award
- 1992 RRCA Masters of the Year Award
- 1994 CT Sports Writers Alliance Gold Key Award
- 1999 Inducted into Long Distance Running Hall of Fame
- 2000 Inducted into USA Track and Field Hall of Fame
Personal track records
- 1 mile – 4:18.8
- 2 miles – 8:48 (indoor practice); 8:53.6 (1975)
- 3 miles – 13:25.4 (1976)
- 5 kilometers – 13:42.00 (1978)
- 10 kilometers – 28:04.4 (1976)
- 15 kilometers – 43:39.8 (1977 – American Record)
- 10 miles – 46:35
- 20 kilometers – 58:15 (1977 – American Record)
- 1 hour – 12 mi 1351 yd (20.556 km) (1977 – American Record)
- 25 kilometers – 1:14:12 (1979 – World and American Record)
- 30 kilometers – 1:31:50 (1979 – American Record)
Personal road records
- 10 kilometers: 28:16 (1983)
- 15 kilometers: 43:25 (1981)
- 20 kilometers: 58:43 (1982)
- 25 kilometers: 1:17:23
- 30 kilometers: 1:29:04 (1976 – Unofficial World Road Record)
- Marathon (42.195 kilometers): 2:09:27 (1979 – former American record)
Major road race wins
- Boston Marathon: 4 wins
- New York City Marathon: 4 wins
- Fukuoka Marathon: 1 win
- Amsterdam Marathon: 1 win
- Houston Marathon: 1 win
- Melbourne Marathon: 1 win
- Falmouth Road Race: 3 wins
- Lynchburg 10 miler: 5 wins
- Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run: 4 wins
- Utica Boilermaker 15 km: 1 win
- Beverly Hills 10 km: 4 wins
- Azalea Trail 10 km: 4 wins
- Gurnet Classic Beach Run, Duxbury MA
- Bloomsday 12 km: 1 win
- Gasparilla 15 km: 1 win (first yr.)
- Jacksonville 15 km: 1 win
- BIX 7: 2 wins (incl. first yr.)
- Big Boy 20 km: 3 wins
Allen McIntyre Stack born January 23, 1928 and passed away September 12, 1999, he was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder.
Stack won the gold medal in the men’s 100-meter backstroke at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. Four years later at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, he placed fourth in the final of the same event.
Stack attended Yale University, where he swam for the Yale Bulldogs swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition from 1947 to 1949. He graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s degree in 1949. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1954, and graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1956. He practiced law in Honolulu, Hawaii until 1998.
Stack was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an “Honor Swimmer” in 1979.
Elmer Kenneth Strong Jr. born April 21, 1906 and passed away October 5, 1979 from an apparent heart attack at 73. Ken was an American Football player, a member of both the College Hall of Fame (inducted in 1957) and Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 1967). Strong began his football career at West Haven High School. He played college football as a prominent halfback for the NYU Violets. A multi-year All-American, he had one of the greatest seasons for any back in 1928, with some 3,000 total yards from scrimmage. Grantland Rice named Strong to his all-time backfield.
After his career at NYU, he went on to play professional football. With a 14-year career he played from 1929–1937, 1939, (interrupted by war service) 1944–1947. He played for the Staten Island Stapletons and New York Giants, both of the National Football League and the New York Yankees of the second American Football League.
He is the first known player in NFL history to attempt and score on a fair catch kick. The kick was made at the Polo Grounds on November 26, 1933, in a win against the visiting Green Bay Packers. The 30-yard kick was also the shortest of the five successful fair catch kicks in NFL history.
Jon Steven “Steve” Young was born October 11, 1961 and attended Greenwich High School.
Young is a great-great-great-grandson of Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for whom BYU is named. His father, LeGrande “Grit” Young, played football at BYU in the late 1950s. He led the school in scoring in 1955 and in rushing and total offense in 1959. Steve Young’s younger brothers, Mike and Tom, both played quarterback at BYU after Steve, but neither received much playing time.
He earned 1978 All-FCIAC West Division First Team honors in his junior year, his first year starting at quarterback for the Cardinals, under head coach Mike Ornato. In 1979, he once again earned All-FCIAC West Division First Team honors, along with CIAC All-State honors, rushing for 13 touchdowns. In two seasons, he ran the ball 267 times for 1,928 yards. In the option offense run by Greenwich, passing was always the second option; he completed only 41 percent of his throws for 1,220 yards. On Thanksgiving Day in November 1979, Steve was Quarterback for Greenwich High School starting in the F.C.I.A.C (Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference) Championship Game. In that FCIAC game, Greenwich High lost to Darien High School, known for its “Tidal Wave Defense” by the score of 17-0. During his senior year he was co-captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams. In basketball, he averaged 15 points a game. In baseball, he hit .384 and played center field when he wasn’t pitching. He was 5-1 and threw a 3-0 No-hitter against New Canaan High School.
Because Young was such a great runner, he was heavily recruited by the University of North Carolina, who wanted him to play quarterback in the option offense they were using at the time. However, Young ultimately decided to attend BYU. Initially, he struggled at throwing the ball, and BYU’s coaching staff considered switching him to defensive back because of his athleticism. However, he worked hard to improve his passing skills and eventually succeeded record-setting Jim McMahon as BYU’s starting QB. Young’s senior season (1983) was spectacular. He passed for 3,902 yards and 33 touchdowns in the regular season, and his 71.3% completion percentage set an NCAA single-season record. He also added 544 yards rushing. With Young at quarterback, BYU set an NCAA record by averaging 584.2 yards of total offense per game, with 370.5 of those yards coming from Young’s passing and rushing. The Cougars finished the year with an impressive 11–1 record; Young was named First Team All-America by several news organizations and received the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, which recognizes the nation’s best collegiate quarterback each year. He also finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy, behind Nebraska running back Mike Rozier. Young capped his college career by scoring the game-winning touchdown (he caught a halfback pass) in BYU’s 21–17 victory over Missouri in the 1983 Holiday Bowl.
Young finished his college career with 592 pass completions for 7,733 yards and 56 touchdowns, along with 1,048 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. He was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
In 1984, Young signed a record 10-year, $40 million contract with the USFL’s Los Angeles Express. He agreed to take his payment in the form of an annuity to help the fledgling team; he would receive $40 million paid out over 40 years. It was reported that he would still be paid until 2027 because he insured the contract. However, in a 1985 article the Los Angeles Times stated that he received a $1.4 million settlement on the annuity.
At the time, it was another huge signing by the fledgling league, who had also succeeded in signing then-current Heisman Trophy winner, Mike Rozier of Nebraska, as well as the previous winner, Georgia running back Herschel Walker. Despite being surrounded with some talent, such as future NFL players Jojo Townsell, Mel Gray and Kevin Nelson, and making the playoffs in Young’s first season, the Express was never able to create a sustaining fan base in Los Angeles. Young missed the first six games of his rookie season because he took some college classes so he could graduate on time. However, he started the final 12 games and had a decent year. His most notable accomplishment was becoming the first pro football player ever to pass for 300 yards and rush for another 100 in a single game.
In his second season with the Express, owner William Oldenburg went bankrupt, and was forced to turn the team over to the league after being unable to find a buyer. The 1985 season rapidly became a fiasco. Before one game, the team bus driver refused to drive the Express to the Coliseum after his paycheck bounced. Young contributed a lot of money, as did some of his teammates, and the driver got them to their game. Young then lined up in the tailback position and took snaps from the shotgun formation because the Express were left with no healthy running backs.
The league ceased operations in 1986 after losing most of its claims in an antitrust suit against the NFL.
Young signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1985 after being the first player selected in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL Players. However, the Buccaneers posted 2–14 records in each of Young’s two seasons with them, and Young’s record as starter was 3–16. In his 19 games, he threw for only 11 touchdowns with 21 interceptions while completing fewer than 55% of his passes. Although his time in Tampa Bay was miserable, San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh was impressed by Young’s natural abilities and felt that his problems were due to the struggling Bucs organization.
The Buccaneers selected University of Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde first overall in the 1987 NFL Draft because Young was deemed a bust. Young was traded to the San Francisco 49ers on April 24, 1987 to serve as a backup to Joe Montana. The Buccaneers received 2nd and 4th round draft picks in the trade, which they used to draft Miami linebacker Winston Moss, and Arizona State wide receiver Bruce Hill, respectively.
Young played behind Montana his first several years, but shined as a backup. Substituting for an injured Montana, early in the first quarter of a 1987 game against the Chicago Bears, he threw four touchdown passes in a 41–0 victory. In their 1987 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, he replaced Montana in the second half after the team fell behind 27-10. The 49ers still lost the game, but Young had a fairly good performance with 12/17 completions for 158 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, while also leading San Francisco in rushing with 72 yards and a touchdown on six carries. On October 30, 1988, Young ran through the Minnesota Vikings for a 49-yard, game-winning touchdown run. He started the game out with a 73-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor, after Montana went down with an injury. The play earned the 49ers a 24–21 victory and a bit of revenge on the Vikings for their previous season’s playoff loss.
In 1989, he displayed his potential to become the team’s starter in the future. While Montana won the NFL MVP award and led the team to victory in Super Bowl XXIV, Young still had a good season, completing 69% of his passes for 1,001 yards and eight touchdowns, with only three interceptions. On October 22, 1989, he posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when he completed 11 of 12 passes for 188 yards and three touchdown passes in a 37–20 victory over the New England Patriots. In his four seasons as a backup, Young had thrown 23 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.
He rushed for a career high 102 yards on just eight carries vs. the New Orleans Saints on December 23, 1990, making him only the second 49ers quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards in a single game. The 49ers lost the game 13-10.
Following an injury to Montana’s elbow in the 1990 NFC Championship Game, which forced him to miss the entire 1991 season, Young got his chance to lead the 49ers. It was a rough start for Young. Midway through the season, the 49ers found themselves struggling with a 4–4 record. In the ninth game of the season, after throwing a franchise record 97-yard touchdown pass to Taylor, Young suffered a knee injury and was replaced by backup quarterback Steve Bono. After a loss in that game and the next, Bono led the 49ers to five consecutive victories, playing so well that coach George Seifert decided to keep him in the starting lineup after Young had recovered. It wasn’t until late in the 15th game of the season, after Bono went down with an injury of his own, that Young got to play again. Young then closed out the season by throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing for 63 yards and another touchdown in a 52–14 win over the Chicago Bears in a Monday Night Football game at Candlestick Park.
Young finished the season with an NFL best 101.8 passer rating. Despite missing five full games and most of a sixth, he still threw for 2,517 yards and 17 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. But despite Young’s strong season, the season for the team was widely regarded as a disappointment. The 49ers had slipped from a 14–2 record in the previous season to a 10–6 record in 1991. While 10 wins is usually enough to make the playoffs, this time it was not, and San Francisco ended up not playing in the postseason for the first time since 1982. It was thought by many that Young’s days as the 49ers starter were numbered due to the impending return of Montana from the injury to his right elbow, and some observers said the 49ers should trade Young and keep Montana and Bono. However, none of that happened.
By the start of the 1992 season, it appeared that Young’s starting job was in serious peril. In addition to having to compete with Bono, Montana appeared to be close to recovering from his elbow tendon surgery. San Francisco came close to trading Young to the Los Angeles Raiders, but no deal was finalized and it turned out that Montana would not recover in time to start in the opening game. Montana would not return until the final game of the 1992 season, a Monday Night home game against the Detroit. Montana played the entire second half and guided the 49ers to victory.
Young ended up as San Francisco’s starting quarterback, but once again got off to a rough start. On the fifth play of the opening game at the Giants, he suffered a concussion and was replaced by Bono, who threw two touchdown passes while leading the 49ers to a 31–14 win. The following week, San Francisco lost 34–31 to the Buffalo Bills, despite a career high 449 passing yards and three touchdowns from Young, in a game that for the first time in NFL history there were zero punts from either team.
Young recovered and led the 49ers on a five-game winning streak, capped off by a 56-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons in which Young passed for 399 yards and three touchdowns. After missing most of the next game (a 24-14 loss to the Cardinals) with the flu, he led San Francisco to victory in all of their remaining games of the season, giving the team a 14–2 record. He went on to throw for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns, and rush for 73 yards, in a 20–13 divisional playoff win over the Washington Redskins. The 49ers lost the NFC title game, however, 30–20 against the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. Young threw for 313 yards, completing 71.4% of his passes while passing for one touchdown and rushing for another. He also threw two interceptions, but the final one came with the outcome of the game already decided.
Young finished the season with 3,465 passing yards and 537 rushing yards, along with an NFL best 25 touchdown passes and 107.0 passer rating, earning him the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and his first selection to the Pro Bowl. He was the first quarterback ever to record a triple digit rating in consecutive seasons. Many credit Young’s turnaround to the arrival of then 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike Shanahan, who mentored Young just as he would mentor John Elway in the years to come. Shanahan worked with Young on combining his running skill with on-the-move passing decisions.
In the spring of 1993, at Montana’s request, San Francisco traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs. Young was now the 49ers’ undisputed starter, and would remain so for the rest of his career. But once again, he had a rough start to the season. Over the first four games of 1993, Young, who was hindered by a swollen thumb on his throwing hand, threw eight interceptions, more than he had thrown during the entire 1992 season. But after his thumb healed, Young went on an incredible streak over a span of seven games, throwing 16 touchdown passes with only 2 interceptions and a 122.2 passer rating. By the end of the year, Young set franchise records for most passing yards (4,023), and consecutive passes thrown without an interception (189), (later eclipsed by Alex Smith in 2012) while leading the NFL in touchdown passes (29) and passer rating (101.5). The team slipped to a 10–6 record, but advanced to the NFC championship game again by blowing out the New York Giants 44–3 in the divisional round. However, once again they were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, this time 38–21.
After several key free agent signings including All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders and NFL Draft selections in 1994, the 49ers looked to win their first Super Bowl since 1989. They started fast, beating the Los Angeles Raiders 44–14 on the strength of four touchdown passes from Young, one of four games during the regular season in which he had at least four. After a loss in a much anticipated game to Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs, the 49ers won their next two games before losing to the Philadelphia Eagles 40–8 at Candlestick Park, a game in which Young was eventually benched in the middle of an offensive series. Although head coach George Seifert later said he only pulled Young because he was getting manhandled by the Eagles’ defense, Young had had enough of being scapegoated for 49er shortfalls and loudly (and visibly) lambasted Seifert over his decision.
But the game was considered a turning point in the season; from there, Young led the team to 10 consecutive wins, by an average of 20 points, before losing the meaningless finale against the Vikings in which Young completed his first 12 of 13 attempts before going to the sidelines. They finished an NFL best 13–3, securing home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The 49ers had the number one offense in the NFL, and were so dominant that Seifert often took Young out of games early if he felt that the 49ers had an insurmountable lead at the time.
After an easy 44-15 victory over the Chicago Bears in the divisional round of the playoffs, the 49ers jumped out to a 31-14 halftime lead over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, holding on to win 38-28. Young threw for two touchdowns, while adding 47 yards and another touchdown on the ground. As a result, he would head to his first Super Bowl as a starting quarterback. The 49ers were heavy favorites to become the first team with five Super Bowl victories.
On the strength of a six touchdown performance that surpassed the previous Super Bowl record of five, owned by the man Young replaced, Joe Montana, Steve Young was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX, as the 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 49-26. Young also threw for 325 yards and rushed for 49 yards, making him the first player ever to finish a Super Bowl as the game’s leader in both rushing and passing yards.
The victory capped off an incredible year for Young, who had one of the best seasons by a quarterback in NFL history. He threw for 3,969 yards, a then-franchise record 35 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions, completed an 70.28 percent of his passes—the highest completion percentage of the 1990s, third all-time, and at the time, the best completion percentage by any quarterback with more than 400 attempts (later eclipsed by Drew Brees in 2009). Additionally, Young broke Joe Montana’s single season mark with a then-record 112.8 passer rating, and also once again demonstrated his great scrambling ability, accumulating another 289 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. For his record-breaking season performances, Young was awarded his second AP NFL MVP award, becoming the 6th player in NFL history to win both league and Super Bowl MVP honors in the same season.
In the three years following Super Bowl XXIX, the 49ers would be eliminated each year by Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, twice in San Fransisco. In addition to the early playoff exits, Young suffered a series of injuries that forced him to miss several games from 1995 to 1997. Young entered the 1998 season at age 37 and some began to wonder if his skills would diminish because of his history of injuries and a general decline in his game due to age. However he silenced all critics once again, putting up career numbers in passing yards (4,170) and passing touchdowns (36). He finally beat Favre and the Packers in the NFC wild card game that year, as he threw the winning touchdown to wide receiver Terrell Owens with three seconds remaining to win the game 30–27. In reference to Dwight Clark’s legendary catch against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC championship game, Owens’ grab was called “The Catch II.” A week later, however, Garrison Hearst broke his ankle on the 49ers first play from scrimmage. Without the threat of a running game, Young threw three interceptions (the last one a Hail Mary pass with under 30 seconds remaining in the game) and the 49ers were defeated by the Atlanta Falcons 20-18. Over that span of seasons from 1995 to 1998, Young led the NFL in passer rating twice (in 1996 and 1997), and led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes in 1998.
The 1999 season would turn out to be Steve Young’s last. Young was plagued by concussions throughout his career. During a Week 3 Monday Night Football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Young was violently sacked by Cardinals’ cornerback Aeneas Williams due to a missed blocking assignment by 49ers’ running back Lawrence Phillips. Young was knocked out of the game with a concussion, and didn’t return again for the rest of the season due to symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. The concussion he suffered against the Cardinals was reportedly his second in a season that was only three weeks old, and the seventh (at least) of his career. Young was forced to retire at the end of the year; the team informed him that he would be released if he did not retire. Although Young was offered a job as the Broncos starting quarterback, he retired because of his repeated concussions. In a 2013 Frontline interview, Young said that, partially based upon their own experiences, he and many retired players are increasingly concerned about repeated concussions and subconcussive hits. He is particularly concerned about certain positions that take frequent hits, such as running backs and linemen.
Although he did not become the 49ers’ starter until his 8th NFL season, and he played a full season only three times during his 15-year career, Young compiled impressive career numbers. He completed 2,667 of 4,149 passes for 33,124 yards and 232 touchdowns, with 107 interceptions, and 43 rushing touchdowns. His 96.8 career passer rating is the fourth highest in NFL history and highest amongst retired players; his 4,239 rushing yards are the third most ever gained by a quarterback, behind Michael Vick and Randall Cunningham. He was the NFL’s top rated passer in six different seasons and led the league in touchdown passes four times. In 20 postseason games, he threw 20 touchdown passes with only 13 interceptions, and scored 8 touchdowns on the ground. In his stint with the San Francisco 49ers, Young passed for 29,907 yards, 221 touchdowns, and 86 interceptions, with a passer rating of 101.4, highest in franchise history. He was also sacked 290 times, also most in franchise history.
College NCAA Division I records:
- Most career games gaining 300 yards or more – 182
- Most average yards gained per game, one season – 395.09 yards
- Most average yards gained per game, career – 284.42 yards
- Highest average gain per play, career [minimum 6,500 yards] – 7.5 yards
- Most seasons gained 3,000 yards or more – 2 (tied with others)
- Most consecutive games throwing a touchdown pass – 22 games
- Most consecutive games gained 200 yards or more, career – 22
- Most completions, one season – 308
- Highest completion percentage, one season [minimum 300 attempts] – 70.3 percent
- Highest completion percentage, career [minimum 400 attempts] – 64.3 percent
- Most consecutive completions, one game – 18
- Most consecutive completions – 22
- Most games gained 200 yards or more, one season – 11 (tied with others)
- Most consecutive games gained 200 yards or more, one season – 11 (tied with others)
- Highest Completion Percentage (20+ Atts) (Game):Vs Det. (10/20/91), 90.0
- Most Average Yards Per Attempt (20+ Atts) (Game): Vs Det. (12/19/93), 15.39
- Most Touchdown Passes (Season): 36 (1998)
- Best Completion Percentage (Season): 70.3 (1994)
- Best QB Rating (Season): 112.8 (1994)
- Most 300 Yard Passing Games (Season): 7 (1998)
- Best QB Rating (Career): 101.4
- Most Average Yards Per Attempt (Career): 8.20
- Most Consecutive Games With A Touchdown Pass: 18, At Det. (10/9/94) To Vs StL (11/26/95) Note: (DNP In 5 Games In 1995)
- Best Completion Percentage (Career): 65.8
- Most Rushing Touchdowns By A QB (Career): 43
National Football League records:
- Third-Highest Passer Rating, Career – 96.8
- Highest Passer Rating, Career, Retired Players – 96.
- Most Rushing Touchdowns by a QB, Career – 43
- Most Passing Titles, Career – 6 (tied w/Sammy Baugh)
- Most Consecutive Passing Titles – 4 (1991–94)
- Most Seasons With a Passer Rating Over 100, Career – 6 (1991–94, 1997–98)
- One of 7 QB’s to lead the league in touchdown passes 4 times (tied w/Johnny Unitas, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Len Dawson)
- Most Passes Attempted, Playoff Game – 65 vs. Green Bay, 1995
- Most TD Passes, Playoff Game – 6 (tied w/Daryle Lamonica & Tom Brady)
- Most TD Passes in one Super Bowl – 6
- Most Rushing Yards by a QB, Postseason Career – 594
- Most Rushing Touchdowns by a QB, Postseason Career – 8
- Second most career passing yards amongst left-handed QB’s (behind Boomer Esiason).
- First Super Bowl MVP to be the leading QB and leading rusher in a Super Bowl. (Rushed for 49 yards)
A left-handed thrower, Young was famous for his ability to “scramble” away from the pass rush. In 1999, he was ranked #63 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Young was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on February 5, 2005; he was the first left-handed quarterback to be so honored. He was enshrined August 7, 2005. His induction speech was given by his father, LeGrande “Grit” Young.
The San Francisco 49ers had his #8 jersey retired during a halftime ceremony against the New England Patriots on October 5, 2008. He was the 11th player in team history to receive this honor.
He married former model Barbara Graham, on March 15, 2000, in the Kona Hawaii Temple on the island of Hawaii. They are the parents of two sons and two daughters.
Young received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Utah Valley University (then Utah Valley State College) for speaking at its graduation ceremonies in 2005.
Young serves as a managing director of Huntsman Gay Global Capital after being involved in business ventures with this private equity firm co-founded with billionaire industrialist Jon M. Huntsman and former Bain Capital executive Robert C. Gay, also a co-founder of Sorenson Capital, in Lehi, Utah. Young also sat on the board of Foundry Networks before it was acquired by Brocade Communications Systems in 2008.
When Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 Winter Olympics in 1995, Young was the first volunteer to help publicize the event. During the 2002 Winter Olympics opening ceremony, Young carried the placard for Great Britain. Additionally, Young was among the contingent at Salt Lake City in February 1998 to receive the Olympic Flag after the 1998 Winter Olympics closed in Nagano Japan at the Salt lake City International Airport.
He has also maintained involvement with football. He is seen on the pre- and post-game shows for ESPN‘s Monday Night Football, with the late former host Stuart Scott, along with Trent Dilfer and Ray Lewis. He also co-hosts a radio show on KNBR at 5 pm on Wednesdays during football season along with The Razor and Mr. T, Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert.
Young serves as a National Advisor to ASCEND: A Humanitarian Alliance
. This non-profit organization plans expeditions to African and South American countries to provide life skills mentoring with sustainable solutions in education, enterprise, health and simple technology.
In 1993, Young founded a charitable foundation known as the Forever Young Foundation, which serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges by providing academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities otherwise unavailable to them.
Young also serves as the National Spokesman for the Best Shot Foundation, an organization founded by former Save Darfur Coalition executive director and founder, David Rubenstein. He began his affiliation with the organization in 2009, when he became the honorary league commissioner for their charitable dodgeball tournaments held on college campuses nationwide.
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