2017 Hall of Famers:

Click here to see our official press release on this year’s 2017 Hall of Fame honorees.

Members of the FC Sports Hall of Fame were on hand to congratulate Class of 2011 inductee John Bagley and 2013 Hall of Famer Earl Lavery on being recognized by the Greater Bridgeport Old Timers Athletic Association at their annual dinner in May. From left Dave Bike (2005), Don Cook (2013), Lavery, Ed Finnegan (2012) and Bagley.

Members of the FC Sports Hall of Fame were on hand to congratulate Class of 2011 inductee John Bagley and 2013 Hall of Famer Earl Lavery on being recognized by the Greater Bridgeport Athletic Association at their annual dinner in May. From left Dave Bike (2005), Don Cook (2013), Lavery, Ed Finnegan (2012) and Bagley.

The Hall of Fame, which is overseen by the Fairfield County Sports Commission, Inc., honors newly elected Hall of Famers with an induction ceremony at the Commission’s annual Sports Night awards dinner.

On October 17, 2005 the inaugural Hall of Fame inductions took place at the Fairfield County Sports Commission’s First Annual Sports Night.

Watch the 2013 Hall of Fame video With the creation of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame, the area has one central location to honor those residents who excelled in sports in professional, amateur and service categories. Nominating and selection committees, comprised of members from the media, community and the Sports Commission, go through the balloting process each year to determine the inductees. Announcements from each years honorees, are selected from the entire Fairfield County area, not just from the 15 communities served by the Commission.

The Hall of Fame houses three wings: Jackie Robinson Professional, James O’Rourke Amateur and J. Walter Kennedy Community Service. Establishing a tribute to three of the most influential sports heroes of the past from the Fairfield County community allows the three wings to take the names of these legendary figures, who all called Fairfield County home.

“Naming the wings after sports legends from Fairfield County who have paved the path of our sports history in this area is the natural first step in establishing the foundation for the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame,” says Tom Chiappetta, Executive Director.

The Jackie Robinson Professional Wing is named after the legendary Brooklyn Dodger and Baseball Hall of Fame member, who lived in Stamford for most of his post-baseball life. The James O’Rourke Amateur Wing honors the Bridgeport baseball pioneer, who is also enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing, recognizes the former NBA Commissioner, Basketball Hall of Famer and former Stamford mayor.

 

FAIRFIELD COUNTY SPORTS HALL OF FAME ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

JACKIE ROBINSON PROFESSIONAL WING

Eligible candidates must have been raised in Fairfield County (playing majority of their youth and/or high school sports here). Must have played or officiated in a minimum of two major league seasons, and listed as such as being on a professional roster in the appropriate league records books, or documented by the highest professional league level for their sports—no minor league experience eligible.

Those leagues include but not exclusive to: MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, MLS, AFL, PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour, ATP,

Members of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame gathered together at the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance Gold Key dinner in 2013. From left Frank "Porky" Vieira (2006), Dave Strong (2012), Gary Liberatore (2008), Mike Gminski (2007) and Dave Bike (2005).

Members of the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame gathered together at the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance Gold Key dinner in 2013. From left Frank “Porky” Vieira (2006), Dave Strong (2012), Gary Liberatore (2008), Mike Gminski (2007) and Dave Bike (2005).

WTA, MLL, MISL, NASCAR, Pro Boxing (also any defunct leagues such as ABA, USFL, WFL, WUSA, NASL etc.)

Also any athlete that played on a U.S. Olympic or National team is eligible for the professional wing. Not as an individual participant as an Olympian or national performer.

JAMES O’ROURKE AMATEUR WING

Is open to any amateur athlete that played a majority of their youth sports, high school or college career in Fairfield County. It is also open to those playing adult amateur sports for a minimum 5-year period.

This also includes athletes that performed as an individual (not as part of a team sport) as a U.S. Olympian or U.S. national performer, or as an Olympian or National performer for their native country.

J. WALTER KENNEDY COMMUNITY SERVICE WING

Candidates are those who have provided outstanding service to the sports community and live or lived in the county, including coaches, officials/umpires, recreation personnel, league commissioners/executives, longtime volunteers, sports benefactors, sports industry leaders and corporate sponsors. Candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of outstanding achievement in the county.

 

The Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame is housed at the University of Connecticut Stamford Campus in downtown Stamford. The Hall of Fame is open 6 days a week from 9am – 5 pm.

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

NAME

WING

Henry, J.J

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Henry has established himself as a successful PGA tour pro over the past 19 years since making his professional debut in 1998. He has three tournament wins to his credit, including his first victory right here in Connecticut at the Buick Championship in 2006. His other two tour victories came in 2012 and 2015 at the Barracuda Championship in Reno, NV. The Fairfield High graduate also has five second place finishes to help boost his pro earnings to over $15 million. Henry represented the U.S. as a member of the Ryder Cup in 2006. Prior to becoming a touring pro, Henry had an outstanding amateur career playing out of the Patterson Club in Fairfield as he was a three-time Connecticut State Amateur Champion (1994-95, 1998). He was undefeated in high school play (76-0-2) and was a four-time all-state selection. In 1998, he was a first-team
All-American at TCU and took second in the NCAA individual golf championship.
Jackie Robinson Professional

Williams, Rita

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Williams played six years in the WNBA from 1998-2003 and rose to All-Star status in 2001 with the Indiana Fever.  She began her pro career when she was drafted in the first round and 13th overall by the Washington Mystics in 1998. After two seasons with the Mystics, she was traded to the Fever, where she became the first all star in franchise history when she led the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) assists and steals. She later played for the Houston Comets and the Seattle Storm. The Brien McMahon High grad had a stellar career at the University of Connecticut for three years, the last two as a starting point guard. As a co-captain her senior year, she was named the Big East Championship Most Outstanding Player in 1998 and is 10th all time in school history in steals with 248. Williams was elected to the FCSC’s UConn Wing of the Hall of Fame in 2009. At McMahon she was a Parade Magazine All-American and led the Senators to the 1994 Class L state title. After high school she played one season at Mitchell College and was a first-team junior college All-American
 

Jackie Robinson Professional

Bol, Manute

manutebolheadbestBol was not only a one-of-a kind basketball sensation, but also spent much of his life as a humanitarian and political activist in the civil war that divided his native country of Sudan. Bol’s one-season (1984-85) at the University of Bridgeport created the most excitement in the school’s sports history. The 7-foot-6 center averaged 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.1 blocks per game that year. The Division-II Purple Knights, which previously drew 500-600 spectators, routinely sold out their 1,800 seat gym when Bol was on the court. He was drafted in the second round and 31st overall by the Washington Bullets in 1985 and went on to play for four different NBA teams over the course of a 10-year career. He was one of the best shot blockers in league history, setting the rookie shot blocking record in the ’85-’86 season. Bol finished his NBA career with 2,086 blocks and is the only player to have more blocks than points scored (1,599). He passed away in 2010 at the age of 47.
James O’Rourke Amateur

Gilmore, Maurice

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Gilmore was a four-sport letterman at New Canaan High, but it was in basketball that he made his name as one the legendary players of his era. He led the Rams to three consecutive state titles (1956-58), scoring a school record 697 points as a senior. While also earning varsity letters in track, golf, and football, Gilmore was heavily recruited for basketball by many college programs after being named all-state for three years. The 6-foot-6 center took his talent to the Big Eight Conference where he became a three-year starter at the University of Colorado, leading the Buffaloes to two straight conference titles in 1961 and 1962. Those same teams went on to the NCAA Elite Eight only to lose to eventual champion Cincinnati in both appearances. Gilmore averaged 14.7 pointe per game for his career and is in the school’s top 30 all-time scoring list. After being drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in the 14th round in 1962, a knee injury curtailed his professional basketball career hopes. He passed away at age 53 in 1993. 
James O’Rourke Amateur

Steinkraus, Bill

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Bill Steinkraus is one of the most decorated equestrians in U.S. history. He is a five-time Olympian and
four-time medal winner, including being the first American to win an individual gold medal in equestrian jumping with his horse Snowbound in 1968. He also took home bronze in team jumping at the 1952 games as well as two team jumping silver medals at the 1960 and 1972 Olympics. Steinkraus, who was born in Westport but is a lifetime Darien resident, captained the U.S. Equestrian team for 17 years. Elected to the National Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1987, Steinkraus continued his contributions to the sport as the president of the U.S team for 10 years. He also was a television commentator from 1976-1988, a judge at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona and is a noted equestrian author.
 James O’Rourke Amateur

Marinelli, Lou

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Marinelli’s career as one of the state’s greatest high school football coaches began in 1981 when he came to New Canaan High after three years as a head coach in New York state. He quickly began what has become an unprecedented success run by turning a program that had been 0-29-1 into a state champion in just two years. Now entering his 36th season, Marinelli has continued his amazing success with 34 consecutive non-losing seasons, 11 state titles (1982,1993, 2001, 2002, 2006-09, 2013-15) and five FCIAC championships (1993, 2000-01, 2008, 2013). His record at New Canaan is 300-92-6 (319 coaching wins total) and he is first all time in wins of active coaches in Connecticut and third overall. Marinelli has been recognized as FCIAC Coach of the Year, National Football Foundation Coach of the Year, and in 2002, Connecticut High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year. He also was a finalist twice for the National Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. In 2009, he was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2013 he was selected for the FCIAC Hall of Fame.
J. Walter Kennedy Community Service

Walsh, Mike


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Walsh’s accomplishments as both a highly-successful high school basketball coach and an equally successful career as a youth baseball coach is a rare combination. His coaching prowess at Trinity Catholic High in Stamford and with Stamford’s storied Babe Ruth baseball programs spans more than 40 years. Walsh has turned the Crusaders into one the state’s basketball powers in his 37 years there and his 596 wins rank him fifth all time in the state. His first state title came in 1996, starting an annual run to the state championship game, coming away with six state crowns in 12 total appearances, including seven consecutive from
1999-2005. Walsh has also captured six FCIAC titles in 10 appearances, including three straight championships from 2003-05. As a youth baseball coach for 40 years, he led 10 Stamford Babe Ruth All-Star teams to World Series appearances. Walsh was awarded the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance in 2012.
 J. Walter Kennedy Community Service