"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 12-6-08
I talked to former major league first baseman Rico Brogna last week about his first season as coach of the Nonnewaug (CT) football team--a squad that finished 1-10. "We're a second year varsity program--and really struggled vs. top competition," he told me. "We had very low numbers--low 20's excluding freshmen--and many kids had limited football experience. The Nonnewaug football program is probably four years away from competing against very good teams." Brogna, who was recruited as a quarterback by Clemson, was a former sports star at Watertown High School and also currently coaches basketball at his alma mater. Trust me, folks, you won't meet a finer gentleman than one Rico Brogna; the Nonnewaug football program--despite its recent shortcomings--could NOT be in better hands..........TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the only goalie to lead both the WHA and the NHL in shutouts in a season? Answer to follow..........Congrats go out to Eastern CT State University's Sarah Swann (of Oxford, CT)--who was recently named to the Little East's all-conference first team in women's soccer. Swann (a junior), along with Nicole Gaudette and Meghan Ryczek, combined for 27 of the team's 36 goals and 69 of the team's 98 points this season. Swann also delivered the game-winning goal vs. Keene State in the conference playoff semifinals; terrific job, Sarah..........Yes, the CT Defenders continue to do things the right way, folks. Recently, the AA affiliate of the S.F. Giants got into the holiday spirit by donating more than 300 cases of food to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the United Way. “There is a need in the community now and throughout the year that will only worsen as the economy contracts," said Defenders GM Charlie Dowd. "We are thankful for the support that our fans bestow on us and we appreciate the opportunity to help.” More than $8,000 worth of food was shared between the two organizations; the hope here is that local businesses throughout the tri-state area--many enjoying MUCH bigger profits than the Defenders--reach out to the less fortunate during the current holiday season..........This week in sports history, December 9, 1955: The great Sugar Ray Robinson reclaims boxing's middleweight title for the third time--recording a second-round knockout of Carl "Bobo" Olson in a bout held in Chicago. Sugar Ray first won the title in 1951 by beating Jake LaMotta; he reclaimed it later that year by defeating Randy Turpin (who had earlier beaten Robinson by decision). The 35-year-old Robinson had given up the crown for a show business career back in 1952, but returned after a 2 1/2 year layoff..........Answer to trivia question: MIKE LIUT--who led the WHA in shutouts in '78-79 (as a member of the Cincinnati Stingers) and the NHL twice in '86-87 and '89-90 (while with the Whalers and Capitals)..........Suggestion: NBA guard/malcontent Stephon Marbury should go hang out/work at the New York Stock Exchange for a month or so--then leave. Why? It's already been proven that whenever he leaves a certain area/organization, things AUTOMATICALLY get better..........The "Unwatchable NBA" Update: In a game played in Portland last week, the Miami Heat scored just 68 points during a 38-point loss to the Blazers; the losing squad shot a pathetic 2-for-19 from three-point range and were held to just 28 points in the second half. Let's put it this way: If you are a Heat fan and made the 2,700+ mile flight to Portland to witness that fiasco, the team owes you the following: a refund of your plane fare, a year's supply of antacids, a fully-paid luxury box back home at American Airlines Arena, and free visits for life to the Miami Mental Health Center on South Dixie Highway..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former NBA player Bob "Butterbean" Love--who blows out 66 candles on December 8th. A good offensive AND defensive forward, Love played for five teams between 1966 and 1977; undoubtedly, his best years came with Chicago. As a full-time player for the Bulls, Love never averaged LESS than 19 points per game and scored close to 26 ppg during the '71-72 season. "Butterbean" appeared in three NBA All-Star games and won various All-NBA honors. He currently serves as the Bulls' Director of Community Affairs; best wishes, Bob..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former major league infielder Lou Stringer--who passed away recently in Lake Forest, CA at the age of 91. Stringer played six seasons in the "bigs" between 1941 and 1950--appearing in 409 games for the Cubs and Red Sox. Like many players of his era, Stringer's career was interrupted by military service during World War II. A native of Michigan, Stringer's most productive year was his rookie campaign in 1941 while with the Cubs--a year in which he accumulated 126 hits in 145 games (including 31 doubles and four triples). Stringer was a teammate of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Johnny Pesky while in Boston; may he rest in peace.