Nine athletes, two coaches, a contributor and a team were inducted into the Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame Sunday at The Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Some of the inductees could not make it to the induction ceremony but all had friends or family there to receive the award for them.
Missing from the induction ceremony were: Jesse Carlson, Kyle Gallo, Tammy Borkowski and Jennifer Baccaro. Carlson is rehabbing an injury in hopes of helping the Boston Red Sox soon. Gallo is playing professional golf in North Carolina. Borkowski and Baccaro had conflicts in their schedules.
"Jesse would love to be here but he can't because he's trying to get ready to play by the end of the month," Carlson's brother Cory said. "I hope he comes back quick because the Red Sox stink right now and I'm a Red Sox fan. If he were here he would thank all the coaches who have helped him along the way including Gary Van Etten, Frank Naples, Leo Veleas, Any Baylock, Jim Penders and Paul Baretta who basically put Berlin baseball on the map."
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Rich Carlson, father of Jesse, Cory and Drew Carlson, said the Hall of Fame is becoming a family affair.
"It's nice, Paul Baretta, Dan Roberts and Jesse are all related through my wife Paula," Rich Carlson said. "We are great friends with Bob McCann and he got in Maybe we can get Cory in there and Jason Maule. Jesse always talks about playing sports at Berlin High. He is very good friends still with Jon Paul Demko and some other friends. They like to reminisce about how much fun they had at Berlin High School."
Dan Roberts was a scorer on the basketball court and could really throw it on the baseball field. He once struck out 20 batters out of 21 outs in a baseball game for the Redcoats.
"I have some great memories from when I played," Roberts said. "I remember beating Windsor Locks on a last second shot in basketball and striking out 20 against Avon. We didn't make the state tournament in baseball my senior year but the last game of the year I pitched and we beat Farmington, who went on to win the state championship. There was no such thing as a pitch count back then. When I didn't pitch, I caught.
"It's an honor. I've gotten a lot of honors for slow pitch softball. People kind of look at softball as not competitive but our teams played at the highest level and were very competitive. To have teammates like Howie Dickenman and Leo Veleas was great. I was shocked when I got the call that I was going to be inducted but it was nice to have someone from our era in there."
George Hall who coached, taught and was Athletic Director at Berlin High School talked about some of his most vivid memories.
"Cuba, 1993, we had a Berlin High School baseball team playing ball there," Hall said. "Jim Day has had wrestlers perform all over the world. It wasn't about the games but the athletes and people of Berlin because they were great. The only disagreement I ever had with Bill Gibney came when I told him we needed to raise the level of competitiveness. We needed to compete harder and higher. As a basketball coach I wanted to play Aquinas and we did on Christmas Eve. They beat us the first year and their coach Bill Regan held up a bottle as he walked by me. We beat them the next year and I held up a cigar the kids bought me. Revenge is sweet."
Ken Parciak, taught and coached boys basketball and softball. He had a major breakthrough when a player, Joanne Solek, told Parciak, "Stop treating us like girls." It was then that he started treating the girl's softball players like athletes and young ladies. He is now in two Hall of Fames, the Berlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Connecticut High School and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame.
Many of the wrestlers who were instrumental in Berlin High School winning the first of its nine state championships attended the ceremony.
"What I remember most about that team is how close they were," Berlin coach Jim Day said. "They were friends before they started wrestling and they are still friends. That and their work ethic. I asked them to do some tough things and they never flinched. They were an amazing group. I remember leaving on Friday for the state tournament and Tim D'Addabbo said, 'We're going to make history.' They were confident and obviously very talented.
"We beat the New England champion and runner-up, Coventry, R.I. and Windham in the same tournament. I went looking for the best competition we could find because I knew we were going to be pretty good. I thought we would be tough at the states because after watching them and getting to know their toughness, I just couldn't see them losing twice in one day."
Jennifer Baccaro joins her grandfather Victor as a Hall of Famer. Scott Boissoneau, wrestling team of 1986, joined his father Dean, baseball class of 1958. The only other father or daughter and parent of grandparents who are in are David Swanson and his father Ted Swanson, baseball team of 1958.