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Tony Talks Sports

November 29, 2007

Green Bowl Rumors

By Tony Mentone


For the third consecutive year, Courtney Dinnan (HHS‘08) has been named the New Haven Register girls cross-country MVP.

Dinnan was undefeated during the regular season and won the SCC Championship. She was leading in the class double L championships when she became ill.

She is captain of both the indoor and outdoor track teams.


At 7 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, it looked like typical miserable weather was in store for the Green Bowl game. If you stood at the back of the school you could not see the football field. The last three years have been horrible -- ice, snow, rain and now fog.

But lo and behold, at about 9:30 a.m. the fog started to clear. By 10:30 a.m., game time, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and the temperature was seasonable. It turned into a great day for a football game.

The game itself was a great defensive struggle and the Dragons finally succumbed to the Knights, 20-6. Rumors were flying around the stands.

Rumor #1 -- that since ND now has an artificial turf field at the old Nike site in West Haven called Veterans Field, the game would become a home and home series.

Anything can happen but I am not sure ND officials would let this happen. Right now Notre Dame sells tickets at school and shows up for the game. Hamden is responsible for all game arrangements, field maintenance, security, ambulance, etc. Why would Notre Dame want to change this, especially on a holiday?

Rumor #2 -- the Green Bowl game would be moved to Wednesday night. This does make some sense, especially in the context of expenses which will probably be cut somewhat because Wednesday is not technically a holiday.

Also, the players and officials involved could restore the integrity of the Thanksgiving holiday for their and many others’ families.

The biggest problem I see with that is parking. The rink is open Wednesday nights so there might not be adequate parking for people coming for the game. Also the Hamden Plaza stores and restaurants are open Wednesday nights, thus taking up more parking.

But it does give us something to talk about.


The Lou Astorino Rink will have open skating on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Dom Rapini (HHS ‘79) lettered in both football and track at Hamden High. He captained both sports and went on to play both at Trinity College in Hartford.

Rapini lives in Hamden with his wife, Susanna, a 1978 Southington High School graduate. He is active in Pop Warner football and has three children: Kathryn, Thomas and Annie. Thomas plays football at Hamden High.

Rapini works for Apple, Inc. managing iPod businesses for major retailers.


At Monday night's Miami-Pittsburgh National Football League game, the start of the game had to be held up due to a dangerous lightning storm. When they finally started the game, they inadvertently forgot to play the National Anthem. Although the NFL manual requires it to be played, due to the unusual circumstances, no one was fined or reprimanded.

When did this tradition of playing the national anthem at sporting events start? At the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox won the series, four games to two. This was the Red Sox’s fifth win in five tries.

This series was unique for another reason. For the first time, the four umpires were moved to the infield on a rotating basis. From 1909 through 1917, two of the four umpires had been positioned in the outfield, in addition to the standard base umpire and plate umpire.


The high school winter season is off to its usual post-Thanksgiving Day start. Teams are trying out and practicing in anticipation of the season getting started this week. Winter sports include boys’ and girls’ basketball and hockey and boys’ swimming and indoor track.

Pick your favorite sport and take in a game. You will be pleasantly surprised by the intensity of play and the level of competition.


Congratulations to the North Haven High School football team for qualifying for the first round of the CIAC MM Division football state championships.

The North Haven coaching staff has a distinct Hamden flavor. Head coach, Tony Sagnella, played at Hamden High and for four years at Rutgers University before returning to Hamden as an assistant coach under Ron Carbone. Sagnella also had a short run playing for the NFL Washington Redskins.

Assistant Ray Ciarleglio also coached at Hamden High under coach Carbone. Assistant Pete Harkins played at Hamden High and the University of Connecticut. Assistant Alex Velardi was also a Hamden graduate before playing for Wesleyan University.

Tony Mentone is the former faculty manager and game assistant at Hamden High School. Tony is currently an assigning commissioner for the Greater New Haven Umpires Association and the assistant district administrator of Connecticut District 4 Little League. He also sits on the town's Parks & Recreation Commission. Please send info and announcements about youth sports or Hamden High sports to tonymentone@yahoo.com.

November 21, 2007

Tony Talks Turkey

By Tony Mentone

Believe it or not, it is turkey time already, a time to reflect on some of the things for which we can personally be thankful.

I am thankful for my father, his five brothers and two sisters who gave me my love of sports. On Friday nights, they would meet at the family homestead on Water Street in New Haven. If the weather was good they would hang around outside. If the weather was bad, they would assemble in their sister’s kitchen and sit around and drink coffee. The discussion was always centered on sports.

At 10 p.m. religiously, they assembled in my aunt's living room to watch the Friday night fights. Obviously their favorites were Marciano, Pep, Pastramo, Basilio and Giardelli. But they appreciated good boxing and they loved Sugar Ray Robinson, Kid Gavilan with the bolo punch and Chico Vejar.

It was a rite of passage to attend these sessions as I got older. I learned more about sports and life in general there than I ever learned in a classroom.

I am thankful for my mother's family, who showed me what charity and love are all about. Uncle Red helped the veterans. Uncle Al gave my family his car when he went into the Army. Aunt Tessie just gave and gave to anybody who needed help.

I am thankful for the many youth sports groups in Hamden and the many hours the volunteers spend working with kids.

I am thankful for Hamden High athletics. Win or lose, I appreciate the effort from both the kids and coaches.

I am thankful for the Yale-Harvard football rivalry.

I am thankful for my recently deceased friend Gloria Sandillo. If she thought I was acting like a jerk she told me and I did the same to her. That's what a real friend is about.

I am thankful for the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. Of course, if you are a Boston fan, it’s the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry.

I am thankful for the Green Bowl. No matter what their record, the game is always entertaining and competitive.

I am thankful for the Hamden High hockey team, especially the yearly games against Fairfield Prep, ND-West Haven and West Haven High.

I am thankful for all sports, but especially baseball.

I am thankful for Bassett Field on Ridge Road. Sometimes four baseball or softball games are going on at the same time.

I am thankful for Brooksvale Park and the Canal Trail, truly the gems of Hamden.

I am thankful for the Hamden Daily News in its efforts to let us know what is going on in Hamden government.

I am NOT thankful for having diabetes and having to poke myself with needles four or five times a day. But I am thankful that these needles let me live a somewhat normal life.

I am thankful for provolone, pepperoni, cappicola, salami, sopressata. My doctor is not thankful for these things, but every once in awhile you have to go for the gusto.

I am thankful for the traditional Italian Christmas eve meal of the seven fishes.

I am thankful for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

I am thankful for my family, especially my wife who is everything to me, my two sons and daughter-in-law because anytime I really need them they are there

I am thankful for my brother and his wife whose house is the hub of most family activities, and my sister who dedicates her life to her family. I'm also grateful for my sister-in-law, Donna, who has a true love for animals.

I am thankful for pizza, because you can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's right, breakfast. You can eat it as an entrée or side dish or as a snack any time of the day. It's truly the perfect food.

So, if you are sitting around feeling down, think of all the things you are thankful for and you will feel much better.

Tony Mentone is the former faculty manager and game assistant at Hamden High School. Tony is currently an assigning commissioner for the Greater New Haven Umpires Association and the assistant district administrator of Connecticut District 4 Little League. He also sits on the town's Parks & Recreation Commission. Please send info and announcements about youth sports or Hamden High sports to tonymentone@yahoo.com.

November 15, 2007

Ferraro Still Bleeds 'Green and Gold'

By Tony Mentone


Several people reminded me that the best football opponent Hamden ever had was the West Haven team of 1968. The team, led by coach Joe McHugh and quarterback Harry Conlan, beat Hamden 95-6. West Haven went on to have an undefeated season and were nationally ranked.


Hamden Fathers’ Baseball/Softball Association has been in business for over 50 years. In that time there have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of volunteers. Whenever the volunteers meet, everyone has a story about a certain player or a particular game. So how about getting together in one place to share stories and life experiences?

Those interested in serving on this informal committee should contact me at tonymentone@yahoo.com.


Rich Ferraro (HHS ’70) played football, basketball and baseball. Ferraro went on to Cheshire Academy where he played football and baseball. His football coach at Cheshire Academy was Hamden Hall of Famer Don Balogh. Ferraro married coach Balogh’s daughter Rosanne in 1979. They have three children and live in Cheshire where his two sons played football.

Ferraro played football and baseball at Nichols College. He is VP of sales at Regan Technologies, where he works with former Hamden quarterback Walter Andrea. Although he has been out of Hamden for nearly 30 years, Ferraro said: "I still bleed green and gold."


On Nov. 13 there were some 200 people at Laurel View Country Club to celebrate the fourth annual Hamden High Sports Hall of Fame induction. Former Hamden High AD and principal Vin Iezzi served as emcee.

The first inductee was hockey player Edward "Ted" Shea (HHS ’47). Shea was a standout player at Hamden High and went on to play at Yale. He also served in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan.
He passed away in April 2006. His wife, Joan, accepted the award on his behalf.

Clifford B. Johnson (HHS ’71) was an outstanding swimmer in various specialties. He continues to coach swimming and thanks Hamden High Hall of Famer Jack Gill, former swim coach, for his inspiration.

Next in the lineup was Rich Andreozzi (HHS ’77), who thanked his mother for letting him play whatever and whenever he wanted. Andreozzi also thanked his Babe Ruth coach, John Palmitano, and his high school coach, fellow inductee Ray Hartman.

Andreozzi said one of the highlights of his life was watching his two sons play baseball together at Hamden High.

Syd Moniello (HHS ’91) was an All-American soccer player. He credits his former coach, Hall of Famer Valerio Moretti, youth soccer coach, Noel Grant, and his father for his success.

The most touching moment of the evening was when Morgan Roche, 4 weeks old, accepted an award on behalf of her father, Jaime Roche (HHS ’93). Roche was an excellent cross-country runner and also played hockey for Hamden. He passed away tragically last year.

Kathleen (Donohue) Gunning (HHS ’96) played soccer, basketball and tennis. She thanked all her coaches but especially thanked her mom and dad for teaching her never to quit.

Matthew Barberi, 91, was Hamden High’s first health and physical education director. His son Tom accepted for him and said his father accepted the award on behalf of all the many teachers he worked with.

Baseball coach Ray Hartman was inducted due to his great coaching career. Coach won two state championships and came close to a third.

Hartman’s son Dan accepted on his father’s behalf and said he never realized what an influence his father had until his father died and all his former players came to pay their respects. He always taught his players respect for everyone but especially respect for themselves.

Alphonse "Allie" Aloi (HHS ’90) was honored with the Community Service Award for his years of service as manager of the hockey team. Alloi thanked Hall of Famer Mike Katz for originally getting him involved, and Hall of Fame coach Dick Gagliardi and current coach Bob Verneris for letting him pursue his dream.

A special recognition award was given to Rich Ursini (HHS ’80). He was an outstanding lineman at both Michael Whalen Junior High and Hamden High. Ursini was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has been an inspiration to everyone as he continues to lead a productive life confined to a wheelchair.


With the recent sudden passing of Gloria Sandillo, the Lady Huskies and WNBA Suns have lost one of their ardent supporters.

Sandillo was a friend. We talked politics all the time. We didn't always agree but we had enough respect for each other to accept differing opinions and still remain friends. She would talk to me any time of the day or night as long as her beloved Lady Huskies were not playing.

Tony Mentone is the former faculty manager and game assistant at Hamden High School. Tony is currently an assigning commissioner for the Greater New Haven Umpires Association and the assistant district administrator of Connecticut District 4 Little League. He also sits on the town's Parks & Recreation Commission. Please send info and announcements about youth sports or Hamden High sports to tonymentone@yahoo.com.

November 8, 2007

Stratford Takes Down Hamden

By Tony Mentone


When this column was rudely interrupted, I had picked my best players in Hamden High School football history. I obviously missed two great linemen -- Hamden Athletic Hall of Fame twins Fred and Joe DeDomenico. There was nobody tougher than those two.


I also talked about the best football players that played against Hamden High. Here are my picks:

1 - Nick Pietrosante played for Notre Dame of West Haven in the mid-’50s. Father Tom O'Rourke, pastor of Ascension Church in Hamden, went to Notre Dame with big Nick. Father O’Rourke knew he was not as good a football player as Pietrosante, though he had a chance against him in track. When track season started, O’Rourke lined up against Pietrosante. They went off and O'Rourke looked up and all he saw were elbows and butt as Big Nick pulled away from him. O’Rourke says Pietrosante was "truly a man among boys."

Pietrosante played four years at Notre Dame University and went on to play football for the professional Detroit Lions. He succumbed to a brain tumor in his 50s.

2 - Floyd Little played for Hillhouse in the late ’50s. Little was a slashing, shifty runner with blinding speed.

Little played four years at Syracuse University and went on to a professional football Hall of Fame career with the Denver Broncos. He is a lawyer and owns a car dealership in the Denver area.

3 - Ed Shreck, Notre Dame High School class of ’63, was a tight end and monster back in legendary coach Ray Tellier’s defense. He played football, basketball and baseball at Notre Dame. Many say his best sport was hockey but Notre Dame didn't have a hockey team at that time.

Shreck played four years at Syracuse and was drafted by the Detroit Lions. At training camp, doctors found a heart defect. They recommended surgery to correct the problem and Shreck died on the operating table.

He was the strongest high school player I ever saw. He would catch the ball and it literally took three or four players to take him down.

Let me know if you have any favorites.


Ralph "Babe" Antonio passed away this week at the age of 78. Antonio played basketball for Hamden in the late ’40s. He was a regular at Hamden High and Hamden Fathers’ Baseball games. Antonio had been a door guard at Hamden High girls and boys basketball games for the past several years.

My condolences to his family.


The fourth annual Hamden High Athletic Hall of Fame dinner will be held on Nov. 13.

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame posthumously are hockey player Edward N. "Ted" Shea, Hamden high class of ’47; Jamie Roche, class of 1993, hockey goaltender; and Raymond Hartman, former Hamden baseball coach..

Also being inducted are Clifford Steven Johnson, class of ’71, a star swimmer; Richard Andreozzi, ’77, a baseball and soccer player; and Cesidio Moniello, an All- American soccer player.

Also, Kathleen (Donohue) Gunning, ’96, a three-sport star, and Matthew Barberi, the first athletic director for female athletes in Hamden's history. Allie Alloi will be inducted for the service he has provided to the hockey team over the years. Richard Ursini will receive a special recognition award.

The event will be held at Laurel View Country Club, cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. For tickets, call 407.2113 or e-mail acarmody_hef@yahoo.com. No tickets will be sold at the door.


The Hamden entry in the Connie Mack fall baseball league, the Hamden Hustlers, was eliminated from the playoffs last Sunday by the Stratford Stroes.

Last week the Hustlers defeated Shelton in one of the most exciting games of the year. Hamden was down 3- 2 in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out.

Russ DeMatteis got on by an error and M. J. Lombardozzi followed with a single. Dante Blackmon singled and DeMatteis raced around to score and tied the game. Shelton intentionally walked Kyle Cummings to load the bases. Rob Davis hit a ground ball against a drawn-in infield. The Shelton shortstop made a great stop but was unable to throw out Lombardozzi, who scored the winning run.

After a brush with Hurricane Noel last Saturday, the skies cleared on Sunday and Hamden played the Stratford Stroes in the semifinals. Hamden hit the ball hard all day but Stratford played great defense and Hamden was unable to score. Strafford won 5-0 to knock Hamden out of the finals.

Tony Mentone is the former faculty manager and game assistant at Hamden High School. Tony is currently an assigning commissioner for the Greater New Haven Umpires Association and the assistant district administrator of Connecticut District 4 Little League. He also sits on the town's Parks & Recreation Commission. Please send info and announcements about youth sports or Hamden High sports to tonymentone@yahoo.com.

October 4, 2007

Footballs’ Sort-of Bests
(There May Be Better)

By Tony Mentone


Last week Ansonia running back Alex Thomas broke the single-game rushing record by running for 518 yards. He carried the ball 44 times.
Let's think about that for a minute. That is almost 11 yards a minute -- don't forget the other team gets the ball. Almost 12 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. Forty-four carries, 518 yards and seven TDs are almost a career for some players.


Hamden Hustlers won three games this weekend in the Connie Mack fall baseball league, defeating Wallingford 4-1, 13-1 and beating Meriden 5-4.

Pitcher Alex Welch (HHS ’08) started the weekend with a four-hitter and a seven-strikeout performance to beat Wallingford 4-1. In the second game, Johan Taborda (HHS ’08) matched Welch's performance as Hamden won 13-1.

On Sunday, Hamden dropped behind 4-1, but came back to win 5-4. Kyle Cummings (HHS ’08) pitched himself out of several tough situations. Rob Davis (HHS ’08) drove in the tying and winning runs with a double in the fifth. Russ DeMatteis (HHS ’09) flawlessly handled five chances at second base.

For the weekend, Davis had three doubles and two singles, and Cummings had a single, three doubles and a homerun. Will Hindinger (HHS ’10) had two singles and a homerun and Bill Garcia (HHS ’08) had two doubles.


Scott Berney (HHS ’96) played baseball and basketball at Hamden. He then played baseball for UConn from 1997 to 1999; at Clemson from 2000 to 2001; and from 2001-2003, in the Colorado Rockies organization. The hard-throwing right-hander coached at SCSU.

Berney lives in Hamden with his wife, Amy Keating (HHS ’96). He is a stay-at-home dad taking care of his young daughter, Avery. He is also a pitching instructor at O'Keefe Baseball Academy in Hamden.


I am not saying these are the best but they are the best as I see it. If you come up with anybody else, e-mail me. I don't have complete info on many of these players. If you do, please contact me.

Running back (I covered three generations)
Tony Aceto, a member of the Hamden Athletic Hall of Fame, was shifty and almost impossible to take a clean shot at.

Rich Diana (HHS ’78) had a stellar career at Yale, and then went to the Super Bowl with the Miami Dolphins.

Horace Dodd could either run by you or over you. He was heavily recruited and played two years at Penn State and two years at Boston College.

Scott Burrell (HHS ’89) only played two years at Hamden High, retiring to concentrate on basketball and baseball. Burrell could throw the ball 60 yards on the money and brought Hamden to the state championship game in his sophomore year.
A close second is Lou Aceto. He could pass but he also could tuck it in and run down the field.

Receivers (I covered two generations)
Roger Milici, a member of the Hamden Athletic Hall of Fame, had hands like a vise and would plow over anyone who got in his way.

Wendell McDuffie had tremendous athletic ability. He could outrun and leap over you to catch the ball. He played a half-season at UConn and then seemed to have disappeared.

Best line men
Two come to mind immediately: Hamden Athletic Hall of Famer Mike Katz and Antaj Hawthorne.

Katz was like running into a building. He was big, strong and fast. He played a couple of seasons with the New York Jets and became famous for his bodybuilding activities.

Hawthorne played for Wisconsin after leaving Hamden. He was over 300 pounds and had huge hands. The last I heard he was on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad.

Tony Sagnella was as tough as anyone I have ever seen. He played four years for Rutgers and had a couple of games with the NFL Washington Redskins.

Ed Ellis was not a standout at Hamden High but blossomed later on and played 10 seasons in the NFL.

Best linebacker
Rob (or is it Ron?) Monaco moved up and down plugging holes and stopping runners. He played a couple of years in the Cardinal organization.

Jesse Chesson was the hardest hitter I have ever seen. He tackled people with ferocity I had never seen before.

Best defensive back
Bobby Myers (HHS ’95) covered receivers like a blanket. He played several years for the Tennessee Titans. Last I heard he was involved in real estate in Tennessee.

How about for next week, give me the best football opponent you ever saw at Hamden High?


On Nov. 13 at 6 p.m., the Hamden Education Foundation will sponsor the fourth annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner. The event will be at Laurel View Country Club.

Tickets are $60 a person. If you wish to buy tickets or be a sponsor, contact Antoinetta Carmody at P.O. Box 185783, Hamden, CT 06518, or call 407.2113 or e-mail acarmody_hef@yahoo.com.

Next week I will announce the 2007 inductees.

Tony Mentone is the former faculty manager and game assistant at Hamden High School. Tony is currently an assigning commissioner for the Greater New Haven Umpires Association and the assistant district administrator of Connecticut District 4 Little League. He also sits on the town's Parks & Recreation Commission. Please send info and announcements about youth sports or Hamden High sports to tonymentone@yahoo.com.


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