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August 28, 2008

Go Ahead, Kill a Kid’s Confidence

By Tony Mentone

Last Saturday night I was tossing and turning in bed. So I got out of bed and went into the living room and put on the TV. I am sure it was the “basketball gods” that kept me awake. I was lucky enough to see the best basketball game I have seen in a long time.

The USA versus Spain game for the basketball gold medal at the 2008 Olympics games was a classic. It was basketball as it was meant to be played. Pick and rolls, screens, unselfish passing, defense, rebounding -- it had it all. Players diving for loose balls; no trash talk.

At the risk of using an old cliché, it was like a heavyweight fight. The USA kept pounding away but Spain refused to let them dominate. They kept fighting back. With just about eight minutes left in the game and the USA up by four points, the magnificent Kobe Bryant took over for the USA and rode them home to a gold medal.

The only problem was that not many people saw the game because it was broadcast at 2:30 a.m. Why did NBC make this decision? The fact that amazed me the most was that the USA had 12 multimillion-dollar players, but they never backed off. They played like young men at a playground for the love of the game and their country.


There are certain phrases said by coaches in every baseball park from pro to sandlot.

"He's left-handed so he has a good move to first.”

"Don't swing at anything over your hands.”

Runner on second: “If it's hit to the right side you're coming; to short or third, you're staying."

To the catcher with a man on third: “You’re like a wall back there. Nothing gets by you.”

"What the hell are you swinging at? The pitcher just threw four straight balls."

“Two strikes -- protect the plate.”

“No pop-ups -- line drives.”

“You never know if he’s going to bunt.”

“Throw a strike.”

“Just a single; don’t try to hit a homerun.”

“Run everything out.”

"That was (insert one) low, high, inside, outside, ump.”

I’ll bet you can think of a lot more. Send them to me.


It seems to me that to be an Olympic athlete you have to have had an injury, tragedy or come from a single-parent family to make the team.


I know it seems like summer is still in full swing, but fall high school sports are about to begin. Check schedules at www.ciacsports.com.


Bob Ugolik (HHS '84) played football for three years. In his senior year, the Dragons were 9-0. He then played four years at Trinity College in Hartford.

He is married to the former Jana Damiani (HHS '84) who captained Hamden High girls’ basketball. She went on to play basketball at Curry College.

Jana is a registered nurse at the Hospital of St. Raphael. Bob, who bleeds green and gold, is a principal of A&E Glass Company.

They reside in Hamden and have three children active in sports.


Nuts, crazy, pazz. Are you telling me we are arguing about a 9-year-old player playing in a four-team league of 8- to 9-year-olds?

There are 18- to 19-year-old babies being killed in Iraq. Kids walking around on drugs. Kids who have been sexually abused and some kids who don't know where their next meal is coming from. And we are worried about how fast a 9-year-old can throw a ball.

I have been an administrator in several youth baseball leagues for over 20 years. Occasionally, there is a kid who by virtue of size or talent can be a danger to other players. You find this out at the beginning of the season, not 10 games into the season when the team is undefeated. Something smells fishy here.

Lastly, has anyone thought about the young man in question? Usually, we don't use their names but this kid's been on the front page of the paper, on national news and TV. This child now has a stigma attached to him before he ever starts playing. We will have expectations from him every time he plays.

One of the participants has been quoted as saying we are not affiliated with any organizations and we make up our own rules.

That's the problem. Rules create order while everything else can be chaos.

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.

August 22, 2008

‘Go Take a BM for Yourself’

By Tony Mentone


In April I bought a new plasma TV for my wife and me for our wedding anniversary. The cable company came to hook it up to HD.

As I was flipping through the new stations offered, I came across one called TVG. Except for a few infomercials, it is horseracing 24/7. Races are shown from all over the world -- USA, England, Scotland, etc.

Not only can you see the races, but bet on them either online or by phone. There is, however, a catch. You have to be a resident of New York State in order to gamble.

But wait a minute! All you have to do is open a phone account at Sports Haven in New Haven and bet on any race in the world.

As a young man I did dabble in the sport of horses but it was a little harder. You would have to either go to the track, bet with an “illegal bookie” or go to an OTB. Now you can sit in your living room and by just picking up the phone you can bet on tracks all over the country.


On Nov. 19, the Hamden Education Foundation will sponsor the fifth annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner to recognize distinguished Hamden High school athletes and coaches. The event will be held at Laurel View Country Club, 310 West Shepard Ave., Hamden.

In order to submit a nomination for an outstanding athlete who graduated prior to June 1998 or a distinguished coach, please contact Antoinetta Carmody at 407.2113 or via e-mail, acarmody@hamden.org, for an application. You may also contact Jeannie Cooper, director of athletics, 407.2209 or jcooper@hamden.org.


I usually only talk sports but when a significant thing happens in my life I feel the need to share it. Last week I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. That was an experience in itself.

Let me preface by saying I offer my deepest gratitude to the Hamden Police and Fire departments as well as the personnel from the ambulance company who were compassionate and confident. I wasn’t in serious enough condition to warrant a siren. I was disappointed but the ride is nonetheless unusual. First of all, you are on your back riding backwards not being able to see anything. The ride from my house to St. Raphael's is normally 15 minutes. It took us almost a half-hour down Dixwell Avenue to Orchard Street. I knew when we were on New Haven streets because the ambulance started bouncing around. The people are great; the system sucks.

Now we get to the emergency room. You learn quickly that everybody in the hospital talks in initials. Did you have an EKG today? How’s your BP? Go take a BM for yourself.

There was a lady in the emergency room on a stretcher in the hall. She was using very abusive language to all those around her. She kept yelling for a tuna fish sandwich and milk. When she couldn’t get them she became more abusive. "Big mouth" me tried to quiet her down and I got a few of the epithets myself. When I inquired about her, they told me she’s an alcoholic who shows up about twice a week looking for food, to get cleaned up and socialize. As I was leaving she asked me to bring back milk and a bottle of vodka. It sounds like a “Russian cow” to me.

Now up to my room which was going to be home for a couple of days. I had already been asked the same series of questions by ambulance personnel and the ER people. But the best was yet to come. In the next 20 hours, two renal residents, a nurse, technicians, the attending doctor, the admitting doctor, the cardiac resident, the cardiac PA (physician’s assistant), the medicine lady, the head nurse on the floor and I think the maintenance man all asked to listen to my heart.

What the hell, don’t they talk to each other? Do they think I am lying? Don’t they have a computer? Can’t they read??

I also acquired a new friend while I was there, “Cricket." She was my IV (intravenous) pole. It followed me wherever I went for three days, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Unfortunately “Cricket” was disabled. She had a battery that refused to take a charge and because of this, she made this incessant clicking noise. When we separated, I really missed her for about 15 seconds.

Just as an aside, they really do wake you up to give you a sleeping pill. Then after they give you the pill they wake you up again in the middle of the night to take your vital signs. Is it really necessary to know my BP, BS, etc. at 3:30 a.m.? Does it change that much at 6 a.m.?

After the first hour when they assured me I was not in critical condition, I wasn't as apprehensive until they took me for "the test." The “test” is any procedure that cannot be done in the room. They came and picked me up and put me on a gurney and wheeled me down 17 halls and three elevators. Of course you are again riding, staring at the ceiling and have no idea where you are.

They brought me to the bowels of the hospital. I swore I was going to become a ninja turtle stuck in the sewers of New Haven for the rest of my life. The test took 10 minutes but I sat in the hallway for over an hour. At one point, I threatened to walk back on my own but they knew I was bluffing because I would never find my way back to my room.

Another hospital myth is that the food is terrible. If you have ever seen me you know I am not a finicky eater. I eat anything as long as it doesn't move. I did keep ordering pizza but they kept telling me they were out of it. Again the food is not bad; the cold stuff is hot and hot stuff is cold but I guess that is to be expected when you're cooking for so many people.

Getting out of the hospital wasn't bad once I signed away my two sons, my wife and my dog if my insurance company didn't pay the bill. Since I had multiple symptoms, all of my doctors had to sign me out so that took about two days.

When you want to know who the big shots are at the hospital, look for the people with the obligatory stethoscope and the pager. They think they run the hospital but they really don't. It’s the nurses and aides who run the place. They are all efficient, compassionate, caring and understanding. I loved them all.


Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer, certainly pulled off an amazing athletic feat. I am not so sure he is the best Olympic athlete that ever lived but he is sure one hell of a swimmer.

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.

August 7, 2008

Another Red Sox Jerk

By Tony Mentone


There was an interesting article in the local paper about the alleged demise of American Legion baseball. The biggest flaw in the article is that most of the people they interviewed were involved in the “pay for play” programs. Obviously, it is in their best interests.

There are some excellent “pay for play” programs, but let us remember their main purpose is to make money. I have seen some of these shysters stand by a batting cage as the kids are warming up. They walk over to a proud parent and ask, “Is that your kid?” “Hey, listen, he has a great swing, but he has a little hitch in his swing.”

The shyster tells the parent he can get rid of the hitch in a couple of lessons for $35 a half-hour. They don’t care about your kid’s hitch, just the $70 an hour.

Same deal with the traveling teams. They don't care if you can walk or talk. All they care about is if you can come up with the $2,500 tuition fee.

In most communities that means that only kids with some financial means can play. It is really not a question of making the team.

Secondly, it gives parents and players a false sense of hope. If the kid has talent, scouts and college coaches will find him. American Legion games often have pro "bird dogs" and college coaches show up. It is still the most competitive baseball for that age group in this area. I have watched some of the "pay for play" teams and the competition is just not there. Most “pay for play” teams are broken up by strict age guidelines. This means you are always playing with players your own age and no one older or better than you.

Another fallacy out there is that great players become great teachers. This is just not true. Ted Williams was considered by many the greatest hitter in baseball history but he couldn't coach or teach worth a damn.

Let your kids have fun and if he has the talent it will all fall into place. Look around you and see how many Hamden or local kids are in the majors or even in the minors for that matter. There is very little that is more fun than playing with your friends and relatives against rival towns and players.


A batting practice fastball used to be called a meatball. Now it is called a "cookie.”


As a coach, I have always told my charges, "No matter how good you are, nobody wants to put up with a jerk."

Manny Ramirez is a perfect example. As a Red Sox leftfielder he led the Red Sox to their first two championships in 86 years. He was arguably the best clutch hitter in baseball. But in the Unionville section of Farmington.

because of his antics and big mouth, the Red Sox traded him to the Dodgers. How long will Joe Torre, the manager of the Dodgers, put up with his bull? Nobody likes a jerk.


After having a great year, Hamden American Legion baseball was eliminated from the top 16 teams in two games.

Post 88 got to the double elimination round by beating Fairfield 10-9. It was the best finish ever for Post 88. Number 13 Hamden was beaten by number three-ranked RCP (Rocky Hill, Cromwell and Portland) 4-2.

Last Sunday Hamden played Oxford and was eliminated 10-3. In the first game on Saturday Dan "Big Country" Rhone had a brilliant performance on the mound but Hamden provided very little run support. Craig Rogoz and Bill Findley both had a double and two singles.

In the second game against Oxford, most of the Hamden pitching staff did well but the defense seemed to fall apart.

All in all coach Frank DeLucia was happy with his team's 19-10 record as they compiled the best record in the history of Post 88 baseball.


Little League baseball will become the first baseball program to use instant replay. Little League will use the replay this year in its championship round but only on balls hit out of the park.


Ken Lipshez (HHS ’70) wanted to be involved in newspaper writing since his days in high school when he worked in the press room at the old Chronicle Printing Company.

While attending SCSU, his mentor was recently deceased Shoreline Times Executive Sports Editor Hal Levy.

Lipshez has been covering scholastic sports in the Central Connecticut area since 1992. He started with the Bristol Press and has been with the Herald of New Britain since 1995. Lipshez has also covered the New Britain Rock Cats since 1995.

He lives in the Unionville section of Farmington.

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.

August 1, 2008

Remembering Levy

By Tony Mentone


I met Hal Levy some 30 years ago. I was general manager of the Chronicle Printing Company and Hal was sports editor of the Shore Line Times. Although he was a customer of my company, Levy was always a perfect gentleman. We respected each other’s love of sports and had many long conversations.

Oftentimes when I was umpiring there would be this thin bespectacled man sitting by the backstop keeping score. His account of the game the next day was like watching an instant replay because his report was always right on. Sometimes he would call me after a controversial play to get an explanation. I would explain to him why I made the call and, although we went back and forth, he would never embarrass me or any other umpire. He realized that officials at games were the authority and were responsible for keeping the peace.

Levy had a love for all high school sports and a passion for the numbers that made them stick. His articles analyzed all the numbers that went into a victory or defeat.

For many years he kept track of the complex CIAC football rankings -- six divisions, points awarded on the wins and losses of the opponents. By Saturday morning, Levy would have all the rankings done.

When I was business manager of the athletic office at Hamden High, we both served on the Basketball Classic Committee. Levy was the chairman and was competent and demanding but always a gentleman.

I will miss his early morning calls when he would be searching for a score he didn’t get in the local paper, but the kids in high school sports will miss him more.

Several months ago when Levy found out he had liver cancer and did not have long to live, he set up a "living wake" in Cromwell. Levy invited all his friends who had a few drinks and discussed sports. He couldn't be any happier than he was that night.

Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) director Al Carbone said he would propose an award dedicated to a member of the press in Levy’s honor.


Somebody help me understand the American Legion state tournament. The first round is called "the play-ins." Some teams play in one play-in, others play two play-ins. Nobody seems to know what the format is.

Secondly, the games change from seven innings to nine innings. This is a false reading. A seven-inning-game strategy is completely different from a nine-inning game. The pitching becomes very critical and why do we have two different formats deciding the champions?

Thirdly, I would like a North and South division team play for the championships. Regional championships will provide some great rivalries and increase the attendance at games.

The play-in games this year were at New Britain, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Simsbury. How many people from Branford travel to Windsor to see a game? How about the Hamden-Fairfield game being played in Simsbury? This is about an hour and 15 minutes away for Hamden and at least one hour and 45 minutes from Fairfield. Why can't they play in West Haven or SCSU or Meriden, etc?


As has been the case for more than 20 years, Hamden resident George Grande emceed the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony last Sunday.

Grande was excellent as always. The highlight for me was watching "Mr. Nice" -- a name Grande was given because of his "easy" style and personality -- caught on camera with a photographer walking around taking pictures of the Hall of Famers.


Ron Monaco (HHS '81) was recently elected to the Greater New Haven Gridiron Hall of Fame.


You land a job as head coach of a Big East football team. As if this isn't enough, your coach’s meeting is in Newport, R.I. What a country!


Hamden American Legion has earned a spot in the "Sweet 16" of the state senior Legion tournament. Hamden qualified by beating Fairfield 10-9. The game was not athletically pleasing but it was exciting.

Dan “Big Country” Rhone pitched a great six innings. It seems to be Rhone’s fate that Hamden doesn't score any runs when he pitches. Fairfield tied the game at 2-2 and it was back and forth until the bottom of the ninth when Hamden was tied at 9-9.

Graig Rogaz led off with a single and Dave Findley laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and Alex Reich lined a single to put Hamden into the double elimination round. Kyle Cummings was three for five and had five RBIs.

Hamden plays this Saturday at Palmer Field in Middletown at 10 a.m.

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.

July 24, 2008

Post 88 Finishes 18-8

By Tony Mentone


Last Saturday morning, second-place Hamden Post 88 American Legion was scheduled to play first-place Shelton at Hamden High. With the temperature expected to approach 100 degrees, coach Frank DeLucia Jr. decided to take action.

At 6:30 a.m., DeLucia went to the high school and, on his own time and expense, he erected tarps over both roofless dugouts to protect the players and coaches from the sun.

Anybody who cares about baseball and kids should be urging their Board of Ed members to fix this abomination. The problem was supposed to be fixed two years ago when a local merchant agreed to pay for the materials and a local contractor was willing to donate the labor.

Because of a lack leadership by the Board of Ed, this never came to fruition. Only in Hamden!


With the fall season fast approaching, let's not forget about problems left over from the spring.

Dugouts. The roofless dugouts at the Hamden High field are appalling, especially the one on the first-base line.

Middle school field. Congratulations to the Council members who voted against Konover as a general contractor for the police station. If the work Konover did on the middle school fields is any example, they should be arrested.

Middle school baseball field. It is unplayable and nobody seems to know when or if it will be fixed.

If you care as I do about these items, contact the Board of Education and Legislative Council about your feelings.

Also on a yearly issue, don't forget the need for more hours for athletic trainers



Perhaps one of the most bizarre baseball inventions was the "baseball catcher” by James E. Bennet (patent #755209) on March 22, 1904.


This contraption basically replaced the catcher's mitt with a wire cage placed on the catcher's chest. The object of the cage is to protect the catcher's hands.

The invention was a rectangular open-wire frame body reinforced by slotted walls of wood. The impact of the ball on the catcher's chest is protected by springs on the rear wall of the device.

After the ball has passed through the open front end, it automatically closes.

At the bottom of the device is an opening where the ball passes into a pocket where it is retrieved by the catcher. The device also has wire mesh at the top to protect the catcher's face.

Needless to say it was very impractical, especially with runners on base, and was never really used.

Source: U.S. National Archives website.


Hamden Post 88 American Legion baseball team finished the year with an 18-8 record, the best record the team has had since 2002. They have qualified for the State American Legion tournament which begins on Sunday, July 27 at a place and time not yet designated.

Head coach Frank DeLucia Jr. and assistant coaches Ken Forsyth, Jim Gagliardi and Derrick Hodder have prepared the team all week. “This is one of the greatest groups of kids” DeLucia said he has ever had. "They work hard and get along with each other.”

Coach Hodder said that either "Big Country" Dan Rhone or John Powers will pitch the first game. Kyle Cummings will return to the mound after nursing a sore arm since the end of the high school season.

Powers and Dave Findley have led the team at the plate.


The Junior Legion team, led by coaches Steve Pacelli and John Rego, will play Branford this Saturday at Branford High School. A win on Saturday will qualify them for the state tournament.


The most popular piece of this column is "Where Are They Now?"

If you are a former Hamden High athlete, drop me an e-mail with your year of graduation, sport(s) played, what you did after high school, what you are doing now, where you are living, if you are married, especially to a Hamden grad, and how many kids.

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.

July 20, 2008

Potties for ALL Sports!

By Tony Mentone


I attend as many youth sports activities as anyone I know. It is usually fun to sit among the parents and grandparents and listen to them root for their “little darlings” and then discuss the game and plays.

It is one of the charms of sports to discuss the games, but some people get carried away. Screaming at the umpires is where it starts. First of all, if the powers-that-be thought the game could be officiated better from the stands they would have put the officials there. A good 95 percent of the time the officials are right. The last person who was never wrong was crucified.

Secondly, the fans don't always know the rules. They yell “Infield fly!” “Infield fly!!” – well, there are runners only on second and third bases. The ball hits the plate. They yell, “It’s foul!” No, not true and on and on.

Some fans “kill the coaches.” In most cases the coaches don't get any compensation except the satisfaction of coaching the game. We know there is more than one way to skin a cat. If we all know so much about coaching then we should be out there volunteering.


Yankee star Alex Rodriguez had a gala party the night before the All-Star game. It is reported that Madonna's music was played all night.

Prediction: A-Rod and wife, Cynthia, will reconcile around the time of the World Series.


SCSU coach Art Leary will hold a Slamma-Jamma Basketball Clinic in conjunction with Hamden Parks & Rec from July 21 to July 25 at the Hamden Middle School. Leary’s camps are built on individual instruction and fundamentals. The goal of his camps has always been to provide instruction that will help children become better players. It is said basketball players are made during the summer and perform in the winter. Check out the website at www.slamma-jamma.com. Session 1: boys and girls five to eight from 9 a.m. to noon, $100; Session 2: boys and girls seven to 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $165; and Session 3; girls only seven to 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $165. FMI, call Parks & Rec at 287.2584.


After extending its streak to 13 straight wins, Legion Post 88 was defeated at Milford on July 10. They then played Branford three straight games and lost each game.

This brings their record to 18-6 as they get ready for a three-game set with league-leading Shelton, before the playoffs.


The 2008 All-Area New Haven Register girls’ track team has two members from Hamden High. The team is represented by Courtney Dinnan (HHS '08), who has won many races in both the 1600 and 3200. She will attend UConn this fall and runs cross country and indoor and outdoor track

Chelsea Harris (HHS '10) is a specialist in the 400-meter run. She also runs in the 1600 and 3200.


Hamden American Legion's 88 defeated first-place Shelton American Legion at Hamden High last Wednesday. Hamden came out with bats flaming and won 14-3.John Powers had five hits, Greg Pacelli, three hits including a homerun, and Ben Kline was one for one.

Powers also pitched a complete game. Shelton has clinched first place. Hamden is fighting for a second-place finish to draw a bye in the first round of the playoffs.


Longtime Hamden Fathers’ Baseball Association umpire Nelson French passed away last week of complications from a brain tumor. French was a local banker who was involved in various charitable endeavors.


Last Wednesday night while the baseball game was going on, there was football activity on the football field. As you would expect, the bathroom facilities were open. I have nothing against football but why weren’t arrangements made to get the facilities or a substitute open for baseball?

To add insult to injury, a concession trailer blocked the entire entrance to the baseball field. What the hell goes?


For the seventh year in a row, Arcade Metal Stamping has won the Hamden Fathers’ Major Gold Town Championship by defeating Glenwood in the best two out of three championship series, two games to none.

In the first game, Arcade came out on top 6-4 as Jack Diana led off the first inning with a walk, and two batters later Adam Matthews put Arcade ahead to stay with a monstrous two-run homerun. Zach Iannone turned in a great game on the mound giving up six hits and striking out 10. John Thomas and Ryan Looney hit well for Arcade, while Robert Mckiernan (2B), Will Rhone (SS) and Austin Defilippo (3B) played outstanding defense. Andrew Calabrese had a single and homerun for Glenwood.

In the deciding game, with one out in the first inning, Arcade collected five straight hits to put the game out of reach. Rhone, Iannone, Matthews and Thomas all had singles with the big hit coming from Owen Kosmaczewski, who hit a three-run homerun deep to centerfield. Arcade never looked back and won the game 9-5 with Mark Masciantonio scattering six hits and striking out nine on the mound. Matt Barnett (CF) and Dan Barrera (LF) turned in great performances in the outfield. For Glenwood, Jordan White hit a homerun and Calabrese had a double and single.

Members of the Arcade 2008 championship team include Robert Mckiernan, Austin Defilippo, Dan Barrera, Jack Diana, Will Rhone, Zach Iannone, Mark Masciantonio, Matt Barnett, Ryan Looney, Owen Kosmaczewski, John Thomas and Adam Matthews. The team was coached by Rich Diana, John Defilippo, Mike Iannone and Bill Rhone.

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.

July 10, 2008

Albanese Says: Let Them Pee

By Tony Mentone


Attackman Alex Ball (HHS '09) was named to the 2008 New Haven Register's All-Area boys’ lacrosse team. Ball had 36 goals, 13 assists and 50 groundballs. He had strong games against North Haven and Guilford.


Damian Atham (HHS '96) played football and baseball at Hamden High. Former baseball coach Vin Virgulto says Athen was the fastest and quickest runner he ever saw.

Atham graduated from SCSU, where he also played baseball and football. He is employed by Easter Seals Goodwill as a community activities specialist in the Senior Development District.

He lives in Wallingford with his wife.


I waited several weeks before I wrote this story hoping it could be worked out. No! Only in Hamden could this become a major problem.

American Legion Post 88 plays its home games at Hamden High, as all teams in the zone play at their local high schools. American Legion baseball is the most competitive league in the area at this age level. The Post 88 senior and junior teams have 100 percent Hamden residents on the team and 75 percent go to Hamden High School.

OK, what's the problem? There are no bathroom facilities available. It is the only field in the zone that doesn't have bathroom facilities.

My first call was to Frank Rizzuti, director of Parks & Rec. He told me this was Board of Education property and there wasn't much he could do. Rizzuti was very gracious and said that anybody who needed to could use the ice rink facilities. Now that might work for players, but parents and grandparents could leave to go to the rink in the third inning and not return until the game was over. We will also have to have EMTs available for the loss of breath and the heart pain.

My next call was to Post 88 head coach Frank DeLucia, who said when he negotiated for use of the field he said he would pay for a Porta-Potty. The athletic director told him to tell the people to go to the bathroom before they got to the game.

The legion schedule should show an asterisk next to the Hamden games with a note at the bottom of the schedule saying "no pee zone." Fans at the game have nowhere to pee, so please wear rubber pants.

My next several calls were to Mark Albanese, director of facilities for the schools. Mr. Albanese never returned my calls. I then wrote to the chairman of the Board of Ed, Mike D'Agostino.

Albanese finally wrote back to me telling me he had no reason not to return my phone calls. I told him that I had no reason to lie.

Albanese said that the Board of Education doesn't provide bathroom facilities for any other "outside group" unless they paid established fees. I never said that the American Legion would not pay for a Porta-Potty. Chairman D'Agostino did reply to me and said he would work on the situation.

I also replied to Albanese that this situation was a safety hazard because people were urinating all over the field, behind the dugouts, etc. If people were urinating on his personal property, I am sure he would do something to correct the situation.

At any time the situation could have been corrected by placing a Porta-Potty at the site. The cost is approximately $100 per month. This from a town that paid $200 per hour to a lawyer to investigate "dead animal-gate," who gave us answers that everyone already knew.

The American Legion has five home games left. Will the problem be corrected?


I don't care if Alex Rodriguez is getting a divorce, sleeping with a mongoose or any other distraction. All I want him to do is hit homeruns for my beloved Yankees.

I do believe he could show a little more discretion in setting an example for the young kids who idolized him.


Hamden Post 88 Senior American Legion baseball has not lost a game since June 19. Hamden swept the three-game series against Orange, Stratford and West Haven.

On July 3, Hamden played a rainout game against North Haven. Hamden jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in three innings and held on for an 8-4 victory. Ian Bezhler (7-0) got the win and John Powers got the save. Dave Finley had three hits and Powers and Dante Blackmon got two each.

On Sunday, Hamden started a series against East Haven and won 4-1. Billy Garcia pitched a complete game and gave up five hits. In the fifth inning, singles by Greg Pacelli, Craig Rogaz and Hank O'Donnell followed by a two-run single by M.J. Lombardozzi provided all the offense Hamden would need.

Kyle Cummings started the sixth with a homerun to round out Hamden's scoring.

On Monday, Hamden again pulled out a 4-3 win with “Big Country" Dan Rhone on the mound against East Haven. Powers had three hits and Finley had two.

Tuesday night was like a heavyweight fight with the lead changing several times between Hamden and East Haven. Hamden has already earned a spot in the American Legion playoffs but is looking for a good seed. East Haven is battling for a spot. Alex Welch had a rocky start, pitching for Hamden but settled down. Bezhler came in the third inning and Powers picked up the win pitching the seventh and eighth innings.

Blackmon had three hits in the 8-7 extra-inning battle. Cummings was 4 for 5 with a homerun in the top of the eighth to clinch the victory for Hamden.

Hamden is currently in second place behind Shelton with a 15-3 record and has won 12 straight games.

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.

July 6, 2008

Post 88 Banging Away

By Tony Mentone


The Hamden High freshmen baseball team, under the direction of coach Joe Weber, finished this season with an 8-6 record.

Hamden was led at the plate by C. J. Carignan with a .561 batting average, while Matt Altieri batted .467; P.J. Scott, .435; Tanner Givens, .433; and Mike Franco, .412.

Franco had 11 RBIs and Carignan and Jason Miller had 10 each.

On the mound, P.J. Scott had three wins and Jason Miller and Nick Velardi had two each. Carignan had an unbelievable 0.70 ERA and both Scott and Franco had a 1.00 ERA.


The last Pop Warner football registrations will be held in the foyer of Thornton Wilder Hall on July 8 and July 22 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Original birth certificates are needed for new players.


Hamden American Legion Post 88 is 10-3, which is the best record they have had in a long time. On June 19, Hamden lost a 2-1 game to North Haven in eight innings as already reported in this column.

Coach Frank DeLucia and his team had two choices at this point: They could fold the tents or they could hang in and keep battling. They chose the latter.

Their first challenge was longtime power Orange, with a doubleheader on June 21. The 88s were up to the challenge and won both games. The next day, Hamden traveled to Brindley Field and beat Orange for a sweep. Ian Behazler won three games in relief.

On June 24, 25 and 26, Hamden played Strafford and again swept three games. The June 26 game was a classic as Hamden fell behind 6-2. In the bottom of the sixth, John Powers started the inning with a single followed by singles by Dante Blackman and Dave Findley. Hamden went on to score seven runs, highlighted by a double by Greg Rogaz.

The broom was out again on June 28, 29 and 30 as Hamden swept West Haven. Hamden was scheduled to play three against East Haven starting July 5 at 10 a.m. at East Haven.


The Hamden Fathers’ Little League All-Stars went into action last week. On Monday the 12-year-olds played Pop Smith of New Haven and won 8-5. Cole Perrone pitched five innings, had eight strikeouts and gave up one hit. Perrone had two hits along with Drew Catalano.

In the second game they faced Orange and lost 11-5. Catalano again played well, along with Matt Moskal and Barett Couden. The team is coached by Tony Perrone.

The 11-year-old All-Stars, coached by Bill Rhone, started out with a win over Cheshire at Bassett Field. Jeremy Germain pitched a strong game and Mark Masciantonio had two homeruns.

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.

June 26, 2008

Bezahler: One Amazing Pitcher

By Tony Mentone


Last week I was accused of being an “old school" coach. If “old school” means I expect players to respect the coaches, the umpires, the other players and opponents; if it means I expect players to make a commitment to the team and play as hard as they can -- then I am proud to be “old school.”

Seniors honored at Laurel View. Courtesy photo


The Hamden High School Diamond Baseball Booster Club honored the entire program on June 22 at Laurel View Country Club.

Mark Lambert, the pitching coach for Trinity College in Hartford, was the featured speaker. Trinity won the national 2008 Division II championship. Lambert talked about a player who was the team captain but was benched at the beginning of the year. The young man kept working and got into the lineup in the championship game. In the eighth inning, he singled to tie the game. In the last inning he fouled off six pitches on a 2-2 count before he walked with the bases loaded, forcing in the winning run. He was carried off the field by his teammates because he kept working hard.

Lambert finished his remarks by saying: "It is important to be a good player, but it is even more important to be a good person."

Also honored that night was Ken DeVoe, the voice of Hamden High baseball. DeVoe spent nearly 20 years as a DJ in the area. In 1984 he founded Media Tree Inc., where he does corporate communications. DeVoe has won multiple awards from prestigious national media and advertising organizations.

He volunteers at every home game and has a song for every player. It really leant a professional atmosphere for Hamden's home games.

Coaches Tony D'Angelo, John Scalzo, Joe Weber and Tony Mentone were presented with gifts from the players and all the players received gifts from the booster club.

Special awards were presented to Kyle Cummings as MVP; Dante Blackmon, Golden Glove; Bill Garcia, best pitcher; and Robbie Davis, best offensive player. Vin Morcaldi was given the Michael Iezzi Sr. Blue-Collar Award.

Freshmen CJ Carignan and PJ Scott were named co-winners of the Patrick Mirto Memorial Freshman MVP. Tom Roche was named winner of the Ed Duel Memorial Award.


Brian Irving of Hamden has been drafted by MLB's San Francisco Giants in the 17th round and 507th overall.

Irving is a 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound, right-handed pitcher. In 2008 he was named second team All-Ivy representing Yale University. In nine appearances, he was 4-3 with an ERA of 3.86 over 32.1 innings.


Kosandra Silva (HHS '08) was named to the New Haven Register’s second-team All-State. Silva was a four-year starter at Hamden High. She could pitch, hit and run with any player in the state.


Last Thursday, Dan "Big Country" Rhone (HHS ’07) went to the mound for Hamden Post 88 American Legion baseball. Even in high school, the Hamden bats seemed to go to sleep for Rhone. This was no exception. He pitched a brilliant three-hitter but was beat in eight innings, 2-1.
Dante Blackmon had two hits. Greg Pacelli hit a shot in the fenceless Bailey Road field in North Haven, which most fans agreed went 400 feet. Larry Deleo, an assistant coach at North Haven and longtime baseball aficionado, said he never saw a kid in this age group hit the ball any further.

Last Saturday, Hamden played a doubleheader against Orange. Going into the bottom of the seventh, Hamden was behind by two runs. Hamden singles by Dave Findley (HHS ’09), Hank O'Donnell (HHS ’07) and Kyle Cummings (HHS ’08), a walk to Pacelli and a single by Max Cofrancesco tied the game 4-4. O’Donnell was picked off first and could have been the winning run.

But O’Donnell made up for it in the eighth by driving in the winning run. Bill Garcia pitched well for six innings then got help from pitcher Ian Bezahler who came in the sixth and got the win.

In the second game, Hamden won 12-1 in eight innings. Greg Rogaz got an infield hit in the eighth and plated the winning run. Alex Welch (HHS '08) pitched a four-hitter and again Bezahler came in the eighth and got the win.

On Sunday, Hamden went to Orange’s Brindley Field to play Orange in the third game of the series.

John Power (HHS ’09)) pitched the game. Hamden won 12-7 on 12 hits. M J. Lombardozzi (HHS ’08), Pacelli (HHS ’07) and Findley had two hits apiece. Bezahler came in to pitch in the fifth and finished with his third win of the weekend -- over a team that had released him at the beginning of the year.


On June 21, Hamden U-14 played a doubleheader against the Connecticut Tides. Erin Moskul pitched a strong game in a 2-1 victory.

The tide turned in the second game as the Tides pounded Hamden 13-3.

This Thursday, the Dragons play the Stratford Braves in Stratford and return home on Saturday to play two against the Connecticut Dawgs. On Sunday, they play the Stratford Braves at Legion Field.


On Tuesday, the Post 88 American Legion team extended their record to 7-3 by beating Stratford 6-5. The team was playing shorthanded due to some personal commitments and family emergencies. Coach Frank DeLucia brought up junior Legion pitchers Hal Hansen and Nick Velardi. The junior pitchers had two good innings each and Bezahler relieved in the fourth and got his fourth win in as many games.

MJ Lombardozzi got a game-winning single in the fifth and made some "major-league" plays at third base, a position he hasn’t played since Little League.

On June 26, Post 88 faces Stratford again at Hamden High at 7 p.m. On Saturday, June 28, Hamden plays West Haven at West Haven at noon. On Sunday, West Haven comes back to Hamden for a 10 a.m. game and then returns to West Haven on Monday at 5:45 p.m. They are then off for the Fourth of July holiday.

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.

June 19, 2008

RIP ‘Bubby’

By Tony Mentone


I hope that all the fathers in town enjoyed Fathers’ Day. If it weren't for these wonderful men, we would be unable to have most of our youth sports programs in town.

Usually at this time of year the question is asked: "What is your fondest memory of your father?”

Here’s mine.

I tried out for the St. Michael's Parochial School baseball team. Coach Joe Scarpellino, whose father was a major league scout, told me I made the team and I would be playing first base. I couldn't throw, I couldn't run, but boy could I hit!

This was on a Thursday and I went home and told my father. He was so proud and the first question he asked me was if the team had a first baseman’s mitt. I told him no but I would use my regular fielders glove. “No way,” says dad. That Friday, when he came home with his paycheck, we headed for A.E. Alling Sporting Goods store on College Street in New Haven.

We walked into the store and John King, the ultimate salesman of his time, greeted us. We told King our problem and he went into the storeroom to see what he could find. The anxiety was killing me as we waited for John to come back. Finally he came back with a beautiful Rawlings mitt. I tried it on and it fit like a glove. (Oh, jeez, did I really say that?) And it was beautiful. I pounded my hand into it several times and Mr. King gave me a baseball to throw into it.

With this glove I felt I could catch anything. Dad knew I wanted it and asked King the price. “$20, but for you, $14." To my chagrin and astonishment my father pulled $14 out of his pocket and paid for the glove. It was mine. “Holy s---!”

Several weeks later I went into the store and saw the glove on sale for $12. I told you King was a great salesman.

I guarded this glove like gold. I know that for several weeks dad went to work with no money for coffee, because his coffee money was spent on the glove. Dad was prouder of that glove than I was.


Hamden Post 88 pulled out a rain-shortened win 6-0 over New Haven on Father's Day.

Southpaw Bill Garcia had an excellent day on the mound, shutting out New Haven 6-0. Garcia had five strikeouts in six innings.

Greg Pacelli (HHS '07) and John Powers (Hopkins ‘09) had a double and a single. Dante Blackmon had a single in the fifth, plating two runs. Pacelli had two RBIs also.

Post 88 faces North Haven tonight at Bailey Field in North Haven. On Saturday, Hamden plays a doubleheader at the high school against Orange and returns Sunday to Orange to play at Brindley Field.


The Southern Connecticut Conference named its All-Star spring athletes. In baseball, Kyle Cummings (HHS ’08) and Will Hindinger (HHS ’10) were named.

For boys’ lacrosse Alex Ball, attack man, was named to the second team. Girls’ lacrosse midfielder Mackenzie Girven and on defense Carla Reynolds were named to the first team and on the second team, attack man Britany Sweet was named.

In softball, pitcher Kassondra Silva (HHS '08) and infielders Julie Bruhn and Andrea Tordanato were named first team all Quinnipiac.

Girls’ track star Courtney Dinnan (HHS ’08) was named for the 1600 and 3200; Chelsea Harris was named to the 4x100 relay team and Alysia Washington in the discus.

Boys’ tennis had Luke Maloney named, while in Division II girls’ tennis Sarah Baker and Stephanie Schaeffer were chosen.


Hamden High JV coach John Scalzo announced that the JVs finished 6-11. “Captain Sam DeCapua and Danny Cusano provided leadership with the younger players,” Scalzo said.

Danny Covner .440, Steven Teague .410 and Matt Bundock .390 led the team offensively.


I am not against spring football practice. I think it helps solidify the team for the fall. Especially in the case of this year's football team with a new coach. It affords the coach the opportunity to meet and organize his new charges and install any new systems he may have.

What I am against is telling a kid who plays spring or summer sports that he is cut if he doesn’t show up at spring football practice.


I knew this man for over 30 years and just found out earlier this week that when he passed away his first name was Robert. With most people in Hamden all you had to say was “Bubby” and they knew who you were talking about.

I met him a while back as Hamden's fire marshal. “Bubby” O’Donnell knew his job but he always did it with a bit of levity. With a twinkle in his eye, he was one of the best storytellers I ever heard. Every time I ran into him he had a story for me about past town employees, golfers or firemen. Many of the stories I had heard several times but his delivery would always leave me laughing.

He was an avid golfer and was president of the first Laurel View Men's Club. I know he loved to play golf but I think he also loved the camaraderie and the banter after the 19th hole.

In later life I would see him at his grandsons’ baseball games. He was so proud of those kids. But again I think he also came to the games to meet and talk with the townspeople he loved.

My condolences to his family. We will all miss him.

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.

June 12, 2008

Is There an Albanese in the (School) House?

By Tony Mentone


A recent article in the Hamden Daily News noted a Hamden government official left checks worth $200,000 in his desk drawer -- some for over five years. Somebody must be sleeping.

I checked my desk and all I could find were two pennies that I used to buy a Connecticut lottery scratch ticket and a $2 winning ticket. I also found two baseball cards.


Hamden U-14 Dragons dropped two again last week against the Technique Tigers. In the first game the Dragon bats were at rest. They managed two singles from Matt Altieri and Mike Frasier, and a double from Jake Lotto and Bobby Rodriguez, but lost 8-2.

In the second game, Hamden started to hit and scored four runs in the second and third to go ahead 8-2. The Tigers chipped away and finally won 11-10. Hamden had singles by Mike Hoff, Eric Sullivan, Matt Altieri, Jake Lotto and Corey Slusars. Jake Voskul had a booming triple.

Hamden played the Westport Wreckers at Staples High School on Wednesday. On Saturday, Hamden plays the Westport Seals at noon at Legion Field.


As I sat eating my soggy pizza on senior night for Hamden baseball, my mind went into action. "Why was I sitting there with a soggy pizza?” Well, it was raining and our dugouts have no roofs.

Besides North Haven, which is rebuilding their fields, we are the only SCC team in the league that has no roofs on their dugouts. When the field was rebuilt, the third-base dugout was reconfigured to look like a dog pen with an asphalt floor and no roof. The first-base dugout was left as it was except they took off the roof and left the lolly columns standing.

Both dugouts are less than desirable. There is definitely a safety factor of balls going over the top. The first-base dugout is so small that players don't have room for their equipment. The third-base dugout is slightly bigger but the steel fence and bench along with the asphalt floor really make it a joy to sit on a hot sunny day.

There are several proposals by community groups to fix the situation. These never came to fruition. The groups blamed the Board of Ed. The Board of Ed blames the groups.

The ultimate responsibility belongs to the Board of Education. If they get help from community groups, that is great. Let's stop passing the buck and correct the situation.


One of the promises when the middle school was built was that we would improve our athletic fields. What the hell is going on with the baseball field?

It has a lot of problems and cannot be used for games.

Whose fault is this -- the town or the builder? And when will it be made usable?


Does the Board of Education really have a facilities director? I have called the Board of Ed on numerous occasions and the facilities director, Mark Albanese, never comes to the phone or returns my calls.

I have lived in this town over 40 years, pay my taxes regularly, have served in various paid and volunteer positions.

Every citizen of this town deserves a return phone call because it is a courteous and professional thing to do. But then maybe nothing is getting done because nobody can find Albanese.


It is with regret that we learned that Hal Levy, Shoreline Newspaper executive sports editor, has terminal liver cancer. We all know that Hal, in his 30 years on the job, has touched the lives of many. He has been a great friend of the Shoreline and Southern Connecticut Conferences and to high school sports in Connecticut.

To honor Levy’s work, "Hal Levy Night" will take place at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cromwell on June 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 and will include hors d'oeuvres. There will be a cash bar. This will be an informal night. People can come and go as they please. There will be a very short speaking program around 6:30 p.m.

If you would like to attend the event or make a donation, please make checks to “Hal Levy/MCCC” and mail to Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, 393 Main St., Middletown, CT 06457. For further information, contact Joan Wood at the chamber at 860.347.6924.


Michael Devine (HHS '69) was on the golf team playing for coach Sal Petrone. His golfing career started at Meadowbrook Golf Course. After high school, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.

Later he served 31 years in the U.S. Navy. He retired from the submarine force as chief of the boat and command master chief.

Devine lives with his family in the Tacoma, Wash., area.


On June 10, Post 88 opened its season with an 8-2 loss to a strong Milford club. Greg Pacelli (HHS ’07) led Hamden at the plate with three singles and a walk.

Coach Frank DeLucia is confident of his charges. Greg Pacelli and Daryl Brandon (HHS '08) will share first base. They will also share catching duties with MJ Lombardozzi (HHS '08). Dante Blackmon (HHS '08) will share second-base duties with Max Cofrancesco (NDWH ’09). Shortstop will be nailed down by Kyle Cummings while third is wide open. Alex Reich (HHS '07), just home from the University of Maryland, will fill in at all three infield positions.

Right field will be patrolled by Hank O'Donnell (HHS '07), John Powers (Hopkins ’09) will play center and Greg Rogoz (HHS ’08) will play right.

Southpaw Bill Garcia (HHS ’08), Alex Welch (HHS ’08), Powers and Rogoz will share mound duties. Dan Rhone (HHS '07) will be the closer.

Steve Findley will play outfield and serve as a DH while Ben Klien (HHS '09) and Ian Beznhnler will fill in the outfield.

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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