STAMFORD (June 28, 2019) — The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame today announced its new class of inductees, naming seven prominent sports figures into its three wings. The Hall of Fame, which is overseen by the Fairfield County Sports Commission, Inc., will honor the newly elected Hall of Famers with an induction ceremony at the Commission’s 15th anniversary Sports Night awards dinner, Monday, Oct. 21 at the Stamford Marriott at 6 p.m.
With the seven new inductees, the HOF has now recognized 97 county sports legends. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Aquarion Water Company.
The class of 2019 honorees are:
Jackie Robinson Professional Wing: CHARLIE MORTON (REDDING), HEATHER DALY-DONOFRIO (FAIRFIELD); James O’Rourke Amateur Wing: PAT DUFFICY (TRUMBULL), ROGER HAGGERTY (STAMFORD), PETE TUCCI JR. (NORWALK); J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing: the late JACK CASAGRANDE (NORWALK), GUY WHITTEN (WILTON).
For only the third time in the 15-year history of the Hall of Fame, there was a tie in the voting with three inductees selected in the amateur wing.
Morton has spent 12 years as a right-handed starting pitcher in the majors, but his most recent seasons have been the ones that have put him in the national spotlight. Drafted by Atlanta in the 3rd round of the 2002 draft, the Joel Barlow High of Redding graduate made his pro debut in June 2008 with a victory. Traded to Pittsburgh in 2009, he became a regular in the rotation and in his seven years there solidified his status as a major league pitcher. Including his current 2019 statistics, Morton has a record of 83-83 and started 233 games while also pitching one season in Philadelphia (2016) and two with the Astros (’17-18). It was in Houston that baseball fans became fully familiar with Morton, who helped lead the team to a World Series title. He won Game 7 of the ALCS and Game 7 of the Series and in the post-season went 2-1, in 10.2 IP, 11Ks with a 1.74 ERA. Morton followed that up with career best numbers in 2018 — 15-3 record, 3.13 ERA, and 201Ks in 30 starts and an AL All-Star selection. Signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay this year he has continued his success with an 8-2 record and 2.43 ERA.
Daly-Donofrio became a golf professional in 1993 and went on to a nearly 12-year career on the LPGA tour beginning in 1998. She won two tournaments (2001, First Union Betsy King Classic, 2004 The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions) and had nine Top Ten finishes before retiring during the 2009 season. She had career earnings of over $1.1 million. Heather, a Roger Ludlowe High of Fairfield graduate, was also very active off the course during her pro career as she was on the LPGA Tour Executive Committee for four years, two of those as president. In 2005, Daly-Donofrio received the William and Mousie Powell Award, given each year by the tour to a player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplifies the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” After a highly successful amateur career where she captured two Connecticut Women’s Golf Association championships (1992 &’93), Heather played four years of golf at Yale University. She also was the head coach and then an assistant there from 1997-2003. Daly-Donofrio has been working for the LPGA for nearly 10 years and is currently the Chief Tour Operations Officer.
Dufficy was good enough to go to college on a basketball scholarship, but quickly turned her sights on her softball talents and the rest is history as she became one of the all-time greats of the sport. In her scholastic days, Dufficy was a standout softball and basketball player, being named all-state in basketball after her senior season at Trumbull High in 1979. She went to South Carolina on that hoop scholarship, but when she was done she went on to become the first softball All-American in school history. During that time, Pat had already started her amateur career with the legendary Brakettes in 1977 and each year she built a legacy of success over a 19-year career with the Stratford-based dynasty. She played on 10 national championship teams, was the MVP of the Major National Tournament in 1983 and an 11-time All-American at three different positions and a .347 career batting average. All of that and more landed her in both the National (2005) and CT (2006) Softball Hall of Fames. Dufficy, who now resides in Tampa, Florida, holds a myriad of spots in the Brakettes’ record book, including most games (1,112) and virtually all of the offensive team marks like hits and RBIs, but has had to settle for being second in lifetime homers.
Haggerty came to prominence as a three-sport star at Trinity Catholic High in Stamford and then embarked on a success-filled college and professional minor league baseball career. As a quarterback/defensive back in football he earned All-FCIAC honors for three seasons, was a four-time all-league selection in hockey and two years in baseball. Haggerty was an All-State football pick as a DB as a senior and two-time all-state in both hockey and baseball. He also played all three of those sports in prep school at Trinity Pawling before entering Providence College, where he played hockey for the Friars as a freshman, then three years of baseball. Roger was a third-team All-American third baseman, Big East Player of Year in 1986 and the career slugging percentage leader at PC (.652), as well as second in career home runs (35), and fourth all-time in RBI (146). He was elected to Providence’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. After his collegiate career he was an undrafted free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox organization and played four years (1986-89) in the minors. He played in 340 games, hit 21 HRs and had 132 RBI.
Tucci was one of the top baseball players to ever come out of the county. After playing for his father at Norwalk High, where as a senior he led the Bears in 1993 to a 25-1 season, FCIAC championship and a spot in the state finals, he earned a scholarship to play baseball at Providence College. In his three seasons with the Friars he developed into one of the top power hitters in the collegiate ranks. Following a summer playing in the prestigious Cape Cod league, he had his breakout season as a junior in ’96 when he was all-first team Big East and a third-team All-American. The numbers he posted — he’s still in PC’s top 10 in 8 major offensive categories including 3rd in HRs (31) and 4th in RBI –attracted lots of Major League scouts. He was rewarded by being a first-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1996 MLB draft as the 31st overall selection. As an outfielder he was the organization’s 1998 Minor League Player of the Year hitting .318 with 30 HRs and 112 RBI as he reached Double A ball. He was then traded to the San Diego Padres and was placed on their 40-man roster. But in spring training of ’99 he suffered a career-altering injury with broken bones in his hand that he never fully recovered from and he retired in 2001 after six years and 622 games in the minors with 84 HRs. He now owns Tucci Lumber Bat Company making baseball bats and other equipment for MLB players.
Casagrande’s name is synonymous with Brien McMahon High in Norwalk since he was at the school as a coach and teacher right from its inception in 1960. For over three decades “Big Jack” was an integral part of the McMahon daily life as a physical education teacher and one of the school’s most successful coaches. While prominently known for his longtime coaching accomplishments in football and wrestling, he also set the groundwork for other sports at McMahon as well as the city of Norwalk. After starting his coaching career in 1959 at rival Norwalk High running the basketball team, his first head job at McMahon came the next year when he became the school’s first basketball coach until 1964. He also started the track and field program, which he guided until 1974. His 27-year football journey started as an assistant for 14 years, followed by 13 seasons as head coach with him posting a 78-45-5 record and the Senators’ first two FCIAC titles (‘78 & ‘85). Casagrande topped that success story by writing an even larger one as wrestling coach for 22 years that produced a 211-105-4 mark, 4 FCIAC crowns and two state titles in ‘77 and ’79. Another part of Jack’s large legacy was his co-founding and commissioner duties of the Norwalk Rec Adult Touch Football League. In 1966 he started that program, which was named for him for 40 years, and the school’s football stadium also bears his name since 1995. After stepping down from his 34-year teaching career in ’94, he was elected to both the CHSCA (1990) and FCIAC (2000) Halls of Fame. He passed away in 2010 at age 73.
When the sport of lacrosse is discussed in Fairfield County and the state of Connecticut, Guy Whitten’s name has to be mentioned at the start of that conversation. As one of the founding fathers of the sport in both places, the longtime Wilton High lacrosse coach set the foundation for what today is one of the country’s growing hotbeds for youth and scholastic lacrosse for both boys and girls. Whitten’s leadership at all levels of the sport is what separates him from just being the most successful coach of his era. The tireless expenditure of his personal time beyond coaching to take on committee chairman and tournament director positions helped guide the lacrosse community to success in making lacrosse relevant. In 26 years as the Warriors head man from 1969-1995 he racked up 410 victories and an 84% winning ratio. During that span he won 17 state titles, including the first eight straight in history, and 11 FCIAC crowns. The honors he received were at the highest of levels as the National High School Coaches Association coach of the year in 1997 and induction into that organization’s Hall of Fame in 2006. Other Hall of Fames where he has been enshrined include Wilton High’s and the FCIAC’s (2002). Whitten also found time be an assistant coach for 6 years for the WHS girls’ budding program. He took on the world stage as head coach for the U-19 USA national team and won the world title in 1988 in Australia. A fitting tribute came in 2001 when the lacrosse field was dedicated in his name.
The list of previously enshrined FCSHOF inductees follows:
JACKIE ROBINSON PROFESSIONAL WING
2005-Julius Boros (Fairfield), Kristine Lilly (Wilton), Calvin Murphy (Norwalk), Steve Young (Greenwich)
2006-Bobby Valentine (Stamford), Mo Vaughn (Norwalk)
2007-Mike Gminski (Monroe), Charles Nagy (Fairfield)
2008-Chris Drury (Trumbull), Tim Teufel (Greenwich)
2009-Jennifer Rizzotti (New Fairfield), Charles Smith (Bridgeport)
2010-Garry Cobb (Stamford), John Hirschbeck (Stratford)
2011-John Bagley (Bridgeport), Bennett Salvatore (Stamford)
*Andy Robustelli (Stamford)-selected 2005, inducted 2011
2012-Wes Matthews (Bridgeport), Sue Merz (Greenwich)
2013-James Blake (Fairfield), Mark Hirschbeck (Stratford)
2014-Craig Breslow (Trumbull), Julie Chu (Fairfield)
2015-Ted Drury (Trumbull), Max Pacioretty (New Canaan)
2016-J.J. Henry (Fairfield), Rita Williams (Norwalk)
2017-Ken Green (Danbury), Randy LaJoie (Norwalk)
2018-AJ Mleczko Griswold (New Canaan), Travis Simms (Norwalk)
JAMES O’ROURKE AMATEUR WING
2005-Dorothy Hamill (Riverside), Bruce Jenner (Newtown), Bill Toomey (New Canaan)
2006-Joan Joyce (Stratford), Walter Luckett (Bridgeport)
2007-Jerry Courville, Sr. (Norwalk), Donna Lopiano (Stamford)
2008-Gary Liberatore (New Canaan), Lou Saccone (Bridgeport)
2009-Pete Demmerle (New Canaan), Dick Siderowf (Westport)
2010-Alvin Clinkscales (Bridgeport), Amanda Pape (Stamford)
2011-Joe DeSantis (Fairfield), Ceci Hopp St. Geme (Greenwich)
2012-Ed Finnegan (Stratford), Harold Jensen (Trumbull)
2013-Dennis Paglialunga (New Canaan), Allyson Rioux (Stamford)
2014-Harry “Mickey” Connolly (Norwalk), Nadine Domond (Bridgeport)
2015-Lisa Brummel (Westport), Lambert Shell (Bridgeport)
2016-Manute Bol (Bridgeport), Maurice “Wilky” Gilmore (New Canaan), Bill Steinkraus (Darien)
2017-Phil Kydes (Norwalk), Bertha Ragan Tickey (Stratford)
2018-Rashamel Jones (Stamford), Claire Beth Tomasiewicz Nogay (Weston)
J. WALTER KENNEDY COMMUNITY SERVICE
2005-Dave Bike (Bridgeport), Jerry McDougall (Trumbull)
2006- Ray Barry (Norwalk), Frank Vieira (Bridgeport)
2007-Nick Koules (Stamford), Bruce Webster (Bridgeport)
2008-Ralph King (Norwalk), Tom Penders (Stratford)
2009-Joe Benanto (Shelton), Terry Lowe (Greenwich)
2010-Mickey Lione, Jr. (Stamford), Vito Montelli (Trumbull)
2011-Charlie Bentley (Bridgeport), Albie Loeffler (Westport)
2012-Jim Penders, Sr. (Stratford), David Strong (Monroe)
2013-Don Cook (Fairfield), Earl Lavery (Fairfield)
2014-Efrain “Chico” Chacurian (Bridgeport), John “Sharkey” Laureno (Stamford), Marty Roos (Fairfield)
2015-Jack Kvancz (Bridgeport), Angela Tammaro (Greenwich)
2016-Lou Marinelli (New Canaan), Mike Walsh (Stamford)
2017-Jim Dolan (Redding), Laddie Lawrence (Westport)
2018-John Kuczo (Stamford), Paul Kuczo, Sr. (Stamford)
The Hall of Fame is housed at Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford. The Hall of Fame is open to the public 7 days per week during regular business hours at the sports complex.
The Fairfield County Sports Commission, Inc. is a 501c (3) non-profit charitable and educational organization that promotes fitness, an active healthy lifestyle and personal development through sports. The Commission, other than the executive director position, is an all-volunteer group dedicated to creating and supporting programs for fitness awareness education, primarily centered on the 110,000 school age children in the 16 communities it serves. Its Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy is the countywide umbrella for all of its programs. For more information, go to www.fairfieldcountysports.com.