Naugatuck Hall of Fame in search of home

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NAUGATUCK — The enshrined sports legends of Naugatuck may have a new residence.

The Hall of Fame Committee has been surveying open space around the borough to display the exhibit and may have settled on its destination. Neither the committee nor the borough has reached any agreement on specifics, but the targeted location is the third floor of the Naugatuck Town Hall.

The Hall of Fame had been located at Naugatuck High School, but with the overcrowding of the school, there has been less and less room for the exhibit. The committee had considered relocating the display to the Historical Society museum a few years ago, but committee members felt the basement of the old train station was never refurbished enough to make it a suitable space for the move
Committee members say a move needs to be made and appears imminent.

“We have to find somewhere,” said Jim Goggin, a Hall of Fame Committee member and the borough tax collector. “As far as I am concerned, no one has spoken up about being opposed to the location. I think the third floor of Town Hall would be a great spot for it. It’s a prominent borough building; the walls are empty on the third floor; and I think it would be a good place for athletes and residents to be able to come and see the display.”

Mayor Robert Mezzo agreed with Goggin’s take on the location.

“It certainly makes sense,” he said. “Given the amount of people that come through Town Hall, the recognition of our sports history could be viewed by as many people as possible. It is a fitting tribute to the athletes and coaches that have been inducted to be in a prominent place.”

The Naugatuck Hall of Fame, which at the time was the first local Hall of Fame in Connecticut, was formed in 1972. Five inductees are announced each year, and inductees must be 18 years removed from high school athletics.

The figures are enshrined each year at an annual banquet which has, over the years, been graced with prominent speakers such as Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Bob Cousy, Ralph Kiner, Roy White, Butch Hobson, Lou Pinella, Wade Boggs, Rusty Staubb and many others.

“We think it’s great to be able to have these ceremonies,” said Ray Rossi Sr., the chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. “We’ve had some great speakers in the past, and these athletes are honored in a great way every time we do the awards dinner.”

All those involved realize how important sports have been to Naugatuck throughout its history and will attempt to develop an exhibit that truly exemplifies everything the athletes mean to the borough.

“Naugatuck was built on a lot of different things,” said Goggin. “A major thing we were built on was a huge sports tradition. To honor these great athletes that achieved so much, to bring them forward, I feel is very important.”

“Sports are a very big part of Naugatuck culture and history,” Mezzo added. “We have a proud tradition of people being involved in athletics from childhood long into their adult lives. Our Hall of Fame does a great job at recognizing the most dedicated and successful coaches and athletes and I think this would be a nice addition to Town Hall.”