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Middletown Sports Hall of Fame: Meet the 2014 Inductees

You have until Friday to purchase tickets for this dinner and program that honors 13 outstanding athletes and one team.

Clockwise from top left: Theodore Isaacson, Carmine Schiro, Joseph McCabe and Edward Mann will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Jan. 30.
Clockwise from top left: Theodore Isaacson, Carmine Schiro, Joseph McCabe and Edward Mann will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Jan. 30.
These are the 13 outstanding sportsmen and women who will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame at a dinner and program on Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell.

You have until Friday Jan. 17 to purchase tickets, $50, for this 21st annual event that lauds the accomplishments of 13 outstanding athletes and one team from Middletown. Make your reservations with Johanna Bond at Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, by calling (860) 347-6924 or emailing johanna@middlesexchamber.com.

Meet the inductees:

JOSEPH McCABE
Joe McCabe, a Xavier High alumnus Class of 1969, was a star football and baseball player for Xavier and Trinity College, and a star outfielder for the Middletown American Legion baseball team.

McCabe was the fullback, punter and place kicker for Xavier in 1967 and 1968. He was the starting fullback on the 8-1 1968 team and was the lead blocker on the majority of offensive plays for the team that averaged nearly 400 yards and 30 points per game. He established the Xavier record for punts with a 68-yard kick against Wilbur Cross in 1968 and became the first Xavier team captain to be named captain of his college team.

He was the fullback and punter on the Trinity College teams of 1970, 1991 and 1972, which had a combined record of 16-8. He started all 24 games in those  years and was captain of the 1972 team. He is one of the top 20 career rushers in Trinity history with 1,429 yards and led the Bantams in rushing in 1971 with 558 yards.

He also provided blocking for teammate Dave Kiarsis, who rushed for 1,374 yards. The combined total of the two is the highest two-back total in Trinity history. He received the Trinity Gold Award for his achievements in football.He played left field at Xavier and had the second highest batting average on the team in both his junior and seniors years and was a co-captain of the 1969 team. He received the team's Senior Award in that year.

In Legion baseball, was the starting left fielder on the 1968 state championship team and was co-captain and All-Zone 3 left fielder for the 1969 team which won the Zone 3 championship.

At Trinity, he played left field and first base and was a starter for three years. He led the Bantams in home runs his sophomore season and won the John Sweet Batting Award his junior year. He also received the Trinity Gold Award for his baseball accomplishments and was named to the list of Outstanding College Athletes of America in 1973.

DARIO HIGHSMITH
Dario Highsmith was a star football, basketball and baseball player at Middletown High School, Class of 1989, and a star baseball player for the Middletown American Legion team.

Highsmith began his scholastic football career at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School where he rushed for 711 yards as a ninth-grader. In his sophomore year at MHS in 1986 he scored seven touchdowns, which was prelude to his enormous junior and senior seasons.He helped Middletown to the Northwest Conference and Class MM state football championships in 1987. That team was 10-1 and defeated Bristol Central 27-0 in the championship game. Highsmith rushed for 812 yards and scored 20 touchdowns.

In 1988 he ran for 841 yards and finished with 40 touchdowns for his career. He was co-captain of that team which was 9-1 on the field — two games were forfeited because of an ineligible reserve player — and won the Northwest Conference championship.

Highsmith was named to the All-Northwest Conference and the All-County team by the Middletown Press in his junior and senior seasons. He was named to the All-State team in his senior year. He played one year at the University of Rhode Island before an injury ended his collegiate career.

In baseball he was a star in Little League and the Ahern-Whalen Intermediate League and was a member of the A-W All-Star team in 1986 and 1987 and the 1987 team won the Senior League championship.

He played baseball at MHS his sophomore and junior years, and in 1990 played on the Middletown Legion team and led the team in hitting with a .396 batting average and won the team's Most Valuable Player Award.In basketball, Highsmith averaged 14.5 points per game in his senior year and was named to the Middletown Press All-County team.

ROBERT PETERSON

Bob Peterson is a baseball man. He helped to establish the four-team Westfield Little League baseball program in 1968, which at the time was the fourth Little League in the city. He also served two tenures of several years each as a member of the Ahern-Whalen Intermediate League's Board of Directors and also served as the league's president.

He also served as business manager of the Middletown American Legion baseball team.But it is as an umpire for which he is most widely known. His career spanned 40 years and he has umpired at every amateur level. In high school he has officiated nearly 2,000 games including many state tournament games including quarterfinal, semifinal and two state championship games.

At the Legion level, he has umpired 1,500 more, including 10 state tournaments, two Northeast Regionals and one World Series.

Among the awards received are the Connecticut American Legion Umpire Appreciation Award in 2003, the John Scanlon Certificate of Appreciation for his years of service to the Middletown Legion Baseball Program in 2008, the Middletown Baseball Association Commissioner's Award for his service to baseball in the Middletown area in 2009 and the Fred J. Post Award from the Connecticut Association of Approved Baseball Umpires for his years of service to high school, Legion and City of Middletown baseball programs in 2010.

ERIC LARSON

Eric Larson, an alumnus of the Class of 1994 at Middletown High School, was a member of both the 1991 Class L state baseball championship MHS baseball team and the 1993 state championship swim team. But it is for his cross-country and track accomplishments that he is most widely known.

In cross-country, he was All-Northwest Conference in 1992 and 1993 and a leading member of the 1992 Class MM state championship team. He set the course record in both his junior and seniors seasons and was team captain his senior year.

As a member of the MHS indoor track team in 1994, he was All-Northwest Conference, Class M 1,000 meter champion, and State Open 1,000 meter champion.In outdoor track in 1994, he was All-Northwest Conference, a member of the 4x400m Class MM championship relay team, and both 800 meter Class MM and State Open champion.

On State Latin Day, he won the decimated marathon, a 2.6 mile race, representing MHS.At the University of New Haven, he was a four-year member of the cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams. He was a three-time Division II All-American in the 800 meter outdoor in 1997, and as a member of the 4x400 indoor in 1997 and the 4x400 meter outdoor in 1998. He was all New England in the 800 and as a member of the 4x400 in both 1997 and 1998.

He is the school record holder as a member of both the indoor and outdoor 4x400 and in the 800 meter outdoor event. In 1997-1998, he was an Academic All-American and is a 2004 inductee into the University of New Haven Sports Hall ofFame.

KYLE SKENE
Kyle Skene is a 1985 alumnus of Middletown High School where he was a three-sport star. He was a linebacker and star punter for the 1984 Class M sate championship football team which was named the state's No. 1 team by the New haven Register. He was named to the All-Northwest Conference team at both punter and linebacker and was named as the punter to both the Hartford Courant and Register All-state teams. He also played tight end for the Blue Dragons and went on to play tight end at Central Connecticut State University.In his senior season at MHS, he averaged 43.5 yards per punt and on defense recorded 29 unassisted tackles, seven assists and two and a half sacks.

He was a tri-captain of the MHS basketball team and was named to the All-Northwest Conference team in his senior season. He went to Middlesex Community College before enrolling at CCSU, and at Middlesex was the second leading scorer in the National Junior College Athletic Association, averaging 32.3 points per game.

He also played baseball at MHS and he played for the Middletown Post 75 American Legion baseball team. On Aug. 3, 1985, he threw a no-hitter against Berlin in an American Legion game, striking out 11.

NEAL SKENE

Neal Skene graduated from Middletown High School in 1991. He was a three-sport athlete at MHS, playing football, basketball and baseball.He was a member of the 1987 Class MM state championship football team which defeated Bristol Central 27-0 in the title game. In 1990, MHS was the Class M runner-up to St. Joseph and Skene was the leading tackler for that team as a defensive end.He was named to the All-Northwest Conference team and the Middletown Press All-County team at defensive end in his senior year. He was named to the All-County team as a tight end in his junior year.

In his senior year he was selected to both the Hartford Courant and New Haven Register's All-State teams at defensive end.He played at the University of Connecticut and won a letter as a true freshman at defensive tackle and he started at offensive guard for two seasons with the Huskies.

In basketball, he was a member of the 18-6 MHS Class L semifinalist team. He was a two-time All-Northwest Conference selection and was named to the Middletown Press All-County team his senior year. In that season he averaged 10.5 points per game and pulled down 193 rebounds.

He was a four-year letter winner and a three-year starter in baseball and played left field for the 1991 Class L state baseball championship team at MHS, the only Middletown High baseball team to ever win a state title.

CHARLES GILL

Charles Gill, an alumnus of Middletown High School Class of 1987, won seven letters in four different sports at MHS. While he won a letter in swimming, two in outdoor track, and one in indoor track, it was football where he excelled. He won three letters in football and while a member of the varsity football team, the Blue Dragons were 29-3.He was an offensive and defensive lineman for the undefeated and No. 1 ranked 1984 football team, the 10-1 Class M runners up in 1985 and for the 8-2 MHS team in his senior year.

While in high school, he won the school's Captains' Award, the Most Consistent Player Award, was named to both the Northwest Conference offensive and defensive teams, and was named to both the All-State offensive and defensive teams in Class M by the Hartford Courant, the first time a player was selected to both teams.

He was also named to the New Haven Register's All-State team on offense his senior year. He received the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Northern Connecticut Scholar-Athlete Award in recognition of his football ability, academic achievement and school leadership qualities.

He won five letters at Trinity, four in football and one in track and field. He participated in track his sophomore year in the hammer throw, helping Trinity to an 11-0 season and the NESCAC men's track and field championship.

In football, he was a three year starter at right tackle and in his four years, Trinity was 24-5-1. In 1990 he was pre-season All-American in Division III, All-NESCAC at offensive lineman and Second Team, All-ECAC at offensive lineman. He received the Gold Award from Trinity for his football career and also received the Dan Jessee Blocking Award as the most outstanding lineman.

KARINA LAGO
Karina Lago, the Middletown High School valedictorian in 1991, was a three-sport star at MHS. She was a championship runner in cross-country and indoor track, and a key member of the softball team. She also was a star runner at Brown University.

In cross-country, MHS was 42-1 in her career, including an undefeated dual meet season in her senior year. She was captain of the team in both her junior and senior years. She twice was the Northwest Conference cross-country champion in 1989 and 1990, a two-time All-State runner in Class M, and a State Open class runner.

The cross-country team was second in the NWC in 1989 and the NWC champion in 1990, the first in school history. She was All-conference three times. She finished 23rd in the New England championship out of more than 200 runners. She broke school course records on eight different high school courses, including the MHS course.

She was captain of the indoor track team her senior year and in that season she was the Northwest Conference champion in the 800 meter run and the 1000 meter run. The 4x400 relay team, of which she was a member, also won the NWC championship.

She was the Class M state champion in the 1000 meter run and finished second in the 800 meter run. She also finished fourth in the CIAC State Open 800 meters and third in the CIAC State Open 1000 meter run. She was named to the All-New England team for finishing third in the 1000 meters.

She was captain of the softball team and hit .326 her junior year. In her senior year, she was named Middletown High School's CIAC female scholar-athlete and was so honored by the CIAC at its annual awards dinner. She also was sports editor of the national award-winning student newspaper Blue Prints in her senior year.

She was killed Nov 7, 1996, when she was struck by an automobile while jogging while she was a graduate student at Tufts University. She was 22.

FREDERICA JONES-DOZIER

Frederica "Peachy" Jones — Dozier is an 1982 alumna of Woodrow Wilson High School and was a three-sport athlete for the Wildcats and a star track performer at the University of Connecticut.

At Wilson, she was a track, basketball and soccer star and was captain of each team in her senior year. She was All-Northwest Conference in track four times and in basketball twice. Her track team was Northwest Conference champion in 1981 and 1982, was third in Class S in 1980, runner-up in 1981 and State Champion in 1982.

She won the long jump competition at the Hartford Invitational her senior year, competing against jumpers from the six New England states, New York and New Jersey.In her senior year the basketball team defeated MHS to win the city championship and she averaged 16.4 points per game.

She went to UConn on a track scholarship and competed all four years in both indoor and outdoor track. She won the New England championship in the long jump in both indoor and outdoor track in 1983 and 1986 and was the Big East Indoor champion in 1983 and outdoor champion in 1985.

She was a member of five New England Championship teams and one Big East Championship teams.

CARMINE SCHIRO

Carmine Schiro is a baseball guy. He was a star player from Little League all the way through his collegiate career at Riker College in Maine. A 1972 alumnus of Xavier High School, he was a Little League All-star in 1967 and he repeated that accomplishment in the Ahern-Whalen Intermediate Baseball league when he was named to that league's All-star team in 1979, a season in which he batted .488.

At Xavier he played varsity baseball and was the team's catcher in 1971 and 1972, batting .320 his senior year with 21 runs scored to lead the team. He received the team's Most Improved Player Award in 1972 and was named to the All-Hartford County Conference team in that year.

He played for the Middletown American Legion team from 1970 through 1973 and in 1973 received the Coaches' Award as the team's Most Improved Player. In 1973 the team advanced to the semifinal round of the Northeast Regional Baseball team and he was selected to the All-Northeast Regional All-star team as catcher.

He played baseball at Riker College and also was the No. 2 guard on the basketball team.

He has continued his involvement in baseball as a coach of youth teams. He coached a Babe Ruth team in Rocky Hill from 1998 to 2002 and coached the Babe Ruth All-Star team. In 2002 he founded and coached the Rocky Hill Jaycee-Courant team.

THEODORE ISAACSON

Ted Isaacson is a 1963 alumnus of Middletown High School. He was  star running back and baseball player for the Tigers.

He began his football career in the midget programs of Middlefield and Rockfall and then continued at MHS. In his senior year MHS went 7-1 and legendary coach Waino Fillback called that team one of his best and favorite teams.

Isaacson was the featured running back — along with Paul LaBella — and that year he led the team in rushing with 927 yards, helping to lead MHS to the Central Valley Conference championship, the city championship with a 40-0 win over Woodrow Wilson, and a Class B Merit Award. The team's only loss was 18-14 to undefeated Amity of Woodbridge.

In the game against Wilson, played before 5,200 at Wesleyan's Andrus Field, Isaacson had three touchdowns and a two-point conversion He ran for 205 yards that day. He was awarded the Johnson-Miller trophy as the game's Most Valuable Player. He was named to the New Haven Register's All-State team as a running back.

He began his baseball career playing for the Rockfall Tigers in Middletown's Ahern-Whalen Intermediate League. At MHS he hit .312 his senior year as Middletown advanced to the semi-final round of the state tournament with a 14-5 record. The baseball team's record for Isaacson's career was 38-17 and the football team's record was 19-6-2. 

PAUL LAUDANO
Paul Laudano is a 1990 National Honor Society alumnus of Middletown High School where he was a star football player and wrestler and is a 1994 alumnus of Boston University where he was a football star.

He played football for four years and was the center for the MHS Class MM state championship team in 1987. He was named to the All-Northwest Conference football team three times and in 1988 and 1989 was named to the Middletown Press All-County team. In 1989 he was named to various All-State teams at center and linebacker and was captain of the 1989 team. In his career, the MHS football team was 25-6.

He was also a sports writer for the school's national award-winning student newspaper, Blue Prints.Laudano also played baseball and was a member of the Ahern-Whalen Senior League state champions in 1987. He also was captain of the Middletown High wresting team his senior year.

At Boston University, he was a linebacker and defensive tackle. In his junior season, he was named the Terriers' Most Improved Player. In 1992 he was named to the GTE Academic All-American Region I team and in his senior year, was selected by the New England football writers as a member of the Division I-AA All-Star team.

In his senior year, BU was the Yankee Conference champion and compiled an 11-0 regular season record. The team defeated Northern Iowa 27-21 in overtime in the playoffs, but then lost 21-14 to the University of Idaho and finished at 12-1 

EDWARD MANN

Ed Mann, a 1970 alumnus of Xavier High School, was a star football and baseball player for the Falcons and a star shortstop for the Middletown American Legion team.

He was a two-year member of the varsity football team at Xavier under coach Larry McHugh. In his senior year, he set the school record for interceptions with six from his defensive back position and received a varsity letter for his play that season. Xavier was 8-0-1 that year, the first unbeaten season in the school's history.

He played in the Little League system in the city and in the Ahern-Whalen Intermediate Baseball League before high schoolHe played four years in the Xavier baseball program, the last three as a member of the varsity and lettered in baseball as well. He was co-captain his senior year in which he batted .406 to lead the team which qualified for the state tournament and finished with a 13-6 record.

In the summer, he played shortstop for the Middletown Legion team. The Post 75ers won the 1970 Zone 3 championship and was runner-up to Naugatuck in the State Legion Tournament.

In the Northeast Regional, which Middletown was in because it hosted the event, he was part of one of the great games in Middletown Legion history. In the championship game Middletown faced Manchester, N.H., who pitched Mike Flanagan, who later won a Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles.

Middletown lost the game in 10 innings, 2-1, but Mann got two hits in the game — Middletown had only three — including the only hit off Flanagan.

1948 MOOSE LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM

Middletown became the first city in Connecticut to have Little League Baseball. The league was established by the local Loyal Order of Moose and that organization purchased equipment for the league, known as the Moose Little league. The four teams were Staddle Hill, St. John's, St. Sebastian's and South Farms.

The coaches decided that they would send the league champion to the fledgling World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and not an all-star team as most did. There were eight teams in the World Series including the Loyal Sox and Lock Haven of Pennsylvania, Alexandria, Va., Hammonton, N.J., Corning, N.Y., St. Petersburg, Fla., Middletown and another Pennslyvania entry.

South Farms won the league title with a 10-2 record and that team of players George J. Dunn, Donald Johnson, Stanley Czuba, Billy Inglis, Victor LaBella, Stephen Feckety, Fred Bastura, Richard Wamester, Francis Wamester, Frank Rybczyk, Ralph Satterfield, John Rybczyk, Stanley Masztal and Walter Lefco, and coaches Rev. George Filip and Harold Cronin, traveled by train to Williamsport along with Bernie and Esther O'Rourke. It was O'Rourke who was the driving force in establishing Little League baseball in the city.

The team received new uniforms purchased by local businesses and the travel expenses were paid for by the United States Rubber Co., the sponsor of that early World Series.

Middletown lost its game 8-0 to St. Petersburg, but the team stayed several days in Williamsport, seeing a minor league game involving the Hartford Chiefs, who visited with the players. They also met members of the St. Louis Browns on board the train on the trip home, and were guests at Yankee Stadium for a game in September.

Lock Haven won the championship, defeating St. Petersburg, the team that eliminated Middletown.

1982 WOODROW WILSON HIGH STATE CHAMP GIRLS TRACK & FIELD TEAM

The 1982 Woodrow Wilson High girls track and field state championship was the first girls state championship won by a public high school in Middletown history.In the early 1980s, girls interscholastic sports were still developing and the 1982 season was only the fifth for the Wildcats' track team. But it was a program that was building rapidly. In 1979, the team was seventh in the state. In 1980, it finished third. In 1981, the team was runner-up in Class S and in 1982, the Wildcats won it all.

The 1982 team won the Northwest Conference title with a 7-0 record, won the city championship by defeating Middletown and had a 13-1 regular season record, losing only to Guilford. In the NWC championship meet, the Wildcats recorded nine first-place finishes.

The team included Frederica Jones, Cindy Krupa, Traci Higgins, Gretchen Long, Carol Scott, Carol Powell, Cheryl Kelly, Carolyn Wright, Lynn Helfant, Regina Satagaj, Dana Barnette, Helen Brostek, Kim Currie, Alison Kabel, Rita Marino, Marisa Fazzina, Teresa Leary, Marion Zimmitti, Kristy Schrenker, Brenda Kleckowski, Kelly Hanlon, Sue Kirk and Angela Tanasi.

The student manager was Sandra McRae, the assistant coach was Sue Augeri and the head coach was Deb (Riley) Petruzzello.  

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