THE STREAK: Thomas, Schiaroli, Mowrey were on all three Naugy teams

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BY MARK JAFFEE
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Editor’s note: There have been other great high school sports win streaks over the past half-century, but none carry the mystique that surrounds the 64 straight games won by the Naugatuck High baseball team from 1970 to 1972.
This is Part 2 of a five-part series on the Naugatuck 64-game streak, an unforgettable moment in Connecticut high school sports history.

Steve Thomas, Dave Mowrey and Rich Schiaroli hold a distinction from the Naugatuck High baseball team’s stunning run of success in 1970, ‘71 and ‘72. They were the only three players on all three rosters.
Thomas and Mowrey were co-captains as seniors as the Greyhounds’ streak reached 64 games.
As sophomores in 1970, they didn’t expect playing time, realizing that in such a great program they needed to work their way into the lineup. They understood their roles.
“(Coach Ray Legenza) was loyal to the seniors and upperclassmen, and the younger players needed to prove themselves,” said Thomas, a pitcher and outfielder. “You had to wait your turn. It was always that way.”
Thomas recalled pitching in relief for an inning or two in one game as a sophomore, then unexpectedly was given a last-minute start against Notre Dame of West Haven in midseason.
“I pitched great and we won 4-0, and I saw more innings after that,” said Thomas. “I felt that I had proved myself.”
Mowrey had an interesting moment in his call-up to the varsity as a sophomore in the 1970 season opener against St. Bernard at Breen Field in Naugatuck.
“I was always a pitcher and shortstop leading to high school,” he noted. “I had never played the outfield before. We were beating St. Bernard pretty good, and Ray put me into the game in right field in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement. They had a pretty good lefthanded hitter up. I was backing up, but Ray told me to move in, so I did what he wanted me to do. The batter then hit a lined shot between first and second base. I caught the ball on one hop. I had intentions to throw the ball to second base, but ended up throwing the ball to first base.”
Mowrey added, “I played only one inning in the outfield and threw the runner out at first base. Legenza knew what he was doing. He liked my baseball instincts. My fielding was always my strong point. Ray put me at third base the next day, and that’s where I played the rest of the time in high school.”
Schiaroli was a reserve third baseman and second baseman as a sophomore and junior, then moved to play first base some as a senior.
“We had a very talented group of juniors and seniors,” said Schiaroli of the 1972 squad. “If you weren’t starting, you’d better be ready in the dugout. If you were the last guy on the bench, you better know what the pitching count was or how many outs there were because you never knew when you would be called upon. Coach was really big on that in being mentally prepared and communicating.”
Schiaroli said Legenza’s practices were always geared to real game situations, such as executing with runners on base and suicide squeezes.
“When those situations would come up in a game, we had already done it in practice, so we were prepared,” said Schiaroli.
As a senior, Schiaroli’s best individual memory came against Notre Dame in the eighth game of the 1972 season. Naugatuck led, 6-1, before the Green Knights rallied late in the game to cut the deficit to 6-5.
“The bases were loaded, and the batter hit a shot to first base. I was able to make the play to get us out of the inning,” recalled Schiaroli.
Naugatuck eventually won, 6-5.
Did he recall hearing praise from Legenza afterward? No.
“Ray expected it,” said Schiaroli of making the play. “You didn’t get a lot of rahrah, ‘good job’ comments from Ray. And you know what, we expected to make plays, too.”
When Thomas and Mowrey were named team captains as seniors, neither of them expected it.
“Both Dave and I didn’t have the mindset of being captains,” said Thomas. “We had varsity experience more than the others. We were quiet kids, not rah-rah types. We accepted it and said we’ll do what we could. I was very honored and hoped that I did a good job.”
Schiaroli said everyone was united on the team. Being part of the unforgettable streak was a bit of luck.
“I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.