NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Hall of Fame inducted the 40th class to the prestigious sports club during the annual awards dinner held at the Continental Room on New Haven Road in Naugatuck last Saturday.
Bernie Ardry, Ray Chrzanowski, Steve DiVito, Cathy Shea, Don Beauchamp, and Tom Szaraynski made up the latest class to enter the Hall of Fame bringing the total number of inductees, including honorary members, to 208 for the sports club that started in 1972.
“These inductees gathered before you are not only great athletes and coaches,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said. “They are great people who have helped to make Naugatuck the successful town that it is.”
The first inductee to be called on to deliver his acceptance speech was Beauchamp and his humor quickly won over the crowd.
“I didn’t play a lot in high school,” said the four-year U.S. Navy veteran. “But in my senior year I did get some playing time and earned the nickname ‘Cinderella’ because I never got to the ball.”
Beauchamp was a charter member of the NJFL where he coached, officiated, and served as league commissioner. He was also honored for his countless hours of volunteer work with the Union City Little League.
Chrzanowski was an outstanding member of the Naugatuck Greyhounds football team 1961 and 1962 and was a baseball star from 1962 to 1963. He received the NHS Outstanding Athlete Award in 1963 scoring 21 points per game for the basketball team.
Chrzanowski’s wife Rose-Ann accepted the honor for her late husband.
“Ray is here with us tonight. He is here in his grandson, his daughter, and our family,” she said. “He was so proud for this nomination.”
Shea was introduced as the first female athlete at Naugatuck High School to earn All-State honors in 1983 for volleyball and was voted the Class Athlete of the year in 1983.
Ardry, a three-sport athlete from 1961 to 1965, played football, basketball and baseball. He excelled in baseball as a first baseman and catcher for the Greyhounds.
DiVito played football for the Greyhounds from 1965 to 1968 earning All-NVL status in his senior year and was named to the Nutmeg Bowl All-Star game. He continued to play football at Cornell until an injury ended his career in 1970.
The loudest ovation of the evening went to Szarsynski, who had a large family gathering on hand. Szarsynski earned All-NVL and All-State status in football and later went on to play for the University of Connecticut.
After his sophomore year, Szarsynski joined the U. S. Marines and stood out in boot camp being named the Honor Mariner and was given his choice of any field in the Marine Corps.
For Szarsynski his induction evoked memories of his grandfather.
“My grandfather, Bill Stokes, was in the very first induction class of the Hall of Fame,” Szarsynski said. “He instilled in me a devotion for family and pride in Naugatuck. He was the most influential person in my life.”
The scheduled guest speaker, Ryan Gomes of the Los Angeles Clippers, couldn’t make it because of a scheduling conflict with the NBA. However, a couple of special, hometown guests were on hand.
Minor League pitchers and former Naugatuck Greyhound baseball stars Pat Dean and Steve Hiscock mingled amongst the crowd and offer their congratulations to the 40th class.
Dean, a Boston College graduate, made his Class Double A six weeks ago in front of his hometown fans pitching for the New Britain Rock Cats. A third round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins two years ago, Dean has pitched for five different teams in his climb up the Minor League ladder.
Hiscock signed with the Tampa Bay Rays two years ago after graduating from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. This summer he pitched in the Class A Midwest League for the Bowling Green Hot Rods.