Bulkeley High School

Matthew Espinosa, Principal

Class of 2016

Meet the inductees

John "Wild Man" Balesky

Class of 1973

This is what Coach Vertefeuille said about John: “He was one of the hardest working athletes I have ever coached.” John was extremely strong and a dedicated wrestler. However, he was also a two-sport athlete for three years. John received six varsity letters in two sports, football and wrestling. In football, his head coach, Pete Kokinis, said, “John was a steady and reliable lineman for three years, and John had an unbelievable work ethic and would give 110% all the time.”

Career Highlights:
    • USA All-American High School Wrestling Team, 1973
    • State Sectional Champion, 1971-73
    • State CIAC Open Champion, 1972-73
    • All-State CIAC Champion, 1971-73
    • Four-Year Win and Loss Record at Bulkeley: 52 wins and 7 losses
    • Dual Tournament Record: 87 wins and 7 losses
john balesky state champ
john balesky wrestling
jackie brown
Jackie Brown shooting

Jackie E. "Jack" Brown

Class of 1968

Jackie was one of the first freshmen to play varsity basketball for Bulkeley High School. He was a four-year varsity letter winner in basketball and a prime jump shot shooter. The south end neighborhood coaches used to discuss the greats who had played basketball at Bulkeley. One often-discussed question was “Who had the best jump shot of all the great players?” Jackie’s name would come up, and he was compared to Carmen Perrone, who had the purest jump shot and was the purest shooter to ever play at Bulkeley High School. Jackie was the leading rebounder in his senior year. He still holds the scoring record for Bulkeley for the most points scored in one game with 46. Jackie was a member of the All-City Team in 1967 and 1968. He also played for the All-Conference First Basketball Team. He attended Ohio Wesleyan with a scholarship. Jackie was voted to the New Haven Register All-State Honorable Mention Basketball Team in 1968. Jack was rated as one of the Top 500 High School Basketball Players in the Country. Jackie was listed in Cage World Magazine as a high school All-American player. He had professional tryouts with the Chicago Bulls, the Milwaukee Bucs, and the Baltimore Bullets. At Bulkeley High School, he also played varsity baseball for three years for coach Kokinis. In his senior year, he was All-Conference (CDC) at the Capital District Conference. His batting average of .439 was the highest in the CDC. He lettered in baseball for three years.

Career Highlights:

    • Record holder of most points scored in one basketball game (46)
    • Record Holder of highest batting average in a single season (.439)
    • National High School All-American in Cage World Magazine
    • Rated as one of the Top 500 High School Basketball players in the USA
    • Attended tryouts for professional basketball teams Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, and Baltimore Bullets
    • Inducted into the Hall of Fame at Ohio Wesleyan      

Tyrone "Ty" Canino

Tyrone attended BHS from 1980 to 1983, where he was a prolific athlete. The basketball player started his senior year off by averaging 20 points and 17 rebounds per game. He also was a fantastic shooter, shooting 65% from the floor and 75% from the foul line. In Tyrone’s senior year, he received over 30 letters from Division I schools, including Big East colleges. Tyrone played Junior Varsity under assistant coach Bob Raffalo during his sophomore year, when the JV team won 20 of 21 games, losing to Weaver by only two points. Joe DiChiara, Tyrone’s varsity coach during his senior year, said, “Tyrone could make a small forward at a good division one basketball school.” DiChiara added that Tyrone had the quickness and the rebounding ability to succeed at this level. Tyrone was selected for the All-State First Basketball Team. He was also selected for the All-City Team 1982 and 1983 and for the First All-District Team in 1983. Furthermore, Tyrone was the main reason why Bulkeley was CDC (Capital District Conference) Champion. Tyrone took the Bulldogs into the semifinals of the state Class L Championship game. After BHS, Tyrone attended Central Connecticut University, and by the end of his senior year, Ty was the leading rebounder at CCSU and sixth in the nation. He scored over 1000 points in four years at CCSU and went on to have a successful professional career. In 1988, he played for Solent Tool in South Hampton, England, in 1989, he played for Arimo in Bologna, Italy, and in 1990, he played for Exchange Parana, Argentina.

Career Highlights:
    • First Team All-State in Senior Year in High School, New Haven Register
    • All-City First Team, 1982 and 1983
    • Averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds in senior year in high school
    • First team (under varsity coach Joe DiChiara) to win the CDC League Championship
    • Offered scholarships by over thirty colleges
    • All-time leading rebound at CCSU
    • Nationwide fifth place in career points scored (1401) in Division One
    • One of only five players to finish their career with 1000 points
    • Career record of 1000 rebounds, current record holder 
Career Highlights:
    • Honorable Mention Honors for the All-Capital District Team, 1966
    • Hartford Courant All-Star First Baseball Team: chosen by Pat Bolduc as the best centerfielder in 22 schools, 1966
    • Co-captain of the baseball team, 1967-1968
    • All-Capital District Baseball Team, 1967-1968
    • All-City Football Team, 1968
    • Town of Chester’s Volunteer of the Month Recognition Award
    • St Jude’s Children’s Hospital Presidents Club member, in recognition of donations above and beyond expectations

James A. "Jim" Cataldi

Class of 1968

In 1966, Pat Bolduc, the Hartford Courant sports writer, compiled the best scholastic baseball players for each position, based on forty-two games he saw from twenty-two high schools in Connecticut. For centerfield, Bolduc chose Jim Cataldi of Bulkeley, writing, “No one was equal as a hitter, fielder and thrower.” Jim earned four varsity letters in baseball and was one of the very few who made the varsity baseball team as a freshman. He led the varsity team in batting in his freshman and junior years. Jim was an outstanding player in the Hartford Summer League, J.C. Courant. He also played American Legion baseball for Post 8. After high school, Jim received a baseball scholarship to Columbia Basin Junior College. He was also a running back on the football team for three years. He was a durable running back for the Bulldogs. In his senior year, 1968, he was chosen for the All-City Football Team.

Joseph J. Cerasole

Class of 1929-A

Joe was awarded nine letters as a three-sport athlete at Bulkeley High School: football, baseball, and basketball. He was a three-year starter as a guard on the football team and was football captain his senior year. He played with the first Bulkeley team to beat Weaver High School in any sport. Joe was named to the football All-City First Team as a sophomore, junior, and senior. In basketball, he was a varsity starting guard all three years and captain in his sophomore and junior years. As a junior, he was a basketball All-City First Team Selection. In the spring, Joe played baseball, and he was a varsity starting catcher for three years and lettered all three years. Joe was awarded a football scholarship to Chattanooga University in Tennessee and was recognized by the first principal of Bulkeley, Gustave Fiengold, who said, “Joe was one of the first great athletes to graduate from Bulkeley.” In 1939, Babe Allen wrote in the school paper, “Joe was one of the best athletes at BHS in the first decade of sports.” His classmates voted for him as Most Popular, Most Loyal, Best Sport, and Best Athlete. Joe went on to college and played for Chattanooga University for two years as a starting varsity tackle. His team was conference champion in 1931. Joe was also active in amateur boxing and wrestling. He was an assistant coach for Babe Allen in football, basketball, and baseball. Joe also played semi-pro baseball in the Hartford Twilight League and also played for the Hartford Professional Football Team.

    • First Team All-State in Senior Year in High School, New Haven Register
    • All-City First Team, 1982 and 1983
    • Averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds in senior year in high school
    • First team (under varsity coach Joe DiChiara) to win the CDC League Championship
    • Offered scholarships by over thirty colleges
    • All-time leading rebound at CCSU
    • Nationwide fifth place in career points scored (1401) in Division One
    • One of only five players to finish their career with 1000 points
    • Career record of 1000 rebounds, current record holder 
Career Highlights:
    • All-American Girls Baseball Team, 1949
    • Practiced with the minor league baseball team in Hartford (The Hartford Chiefs)
    • Coached the All-Star team in Berlin, Germany, 1971
    • Invited to coach the Berlin American High School team in Germany
    • First place in the Singles Berlin City Tournament, competed in Garmisch, 1971-1972
    • Olympic gold medalist in softball in the Atlanta Summer Olympics, 1996
    • Member of the National 600 Bowling Club
    • First place for four consecutive years in the Georgia State Bowling Tournament, 1990-1994

Lucille "Lu" Marie Gozzo Gagnon

Class of 1950

Lucille was recruited by Babe Allen, the Bulkeley High School boys varsity baseball coach, to play on the boys’ team. Coach Allen wanted Lu to play shortstop with Charlie Mazurek and Joe Cirone. “No way,” said Hartford’s administration: “No girls!” In August of 1949, Lu tried out for the All-American Girls’ Baseball League in Newark and made the team. In March of 1950, she was supposed to leave for spring training, but Bulkeley’s principal, Leo McCrann, refused to let her graduate if she left early. Lu continued to practice with the boys’ varsity baseball team. After graduation, she went to Newark and worked out with the traveling team. It was then too late for her to make the roster, so she came home. She began practicing with the Hartford Chiefs, Hartford’s minor league baseball team, but they had to let her go due to liability issues. She then played in the Insurance Softball League while working for the Connecticut General Insurance Company. They won the Insurance League Championship her first year. Lu also played on the company’s basketball team with her classmate Patty Torza and played for the Hartford Laurelettes softball team. They won the ASA Connecticut State Championship and the North Atlantic Region Championship and went on to compete in Detroit World Softball Championship. In 1975, Lu coached the Women’s Hawaiian softball league. In 1980, she received a degree in Business Administration (summa cum laude). She coached and played with the Lady Rangers Softball League at Fort Benning from 1990-1994. She was the Georgia State Bowling Tournament champion and then competed in the National Bowling Tournament. In 1996, the first time softball was included as an Olympic sport, Lu volunteered for the Atlanta Summer Olympics. Her team won the gold medal for the US.

Robert M. "Bob" Grant

Class of 1928

He was on par in his studies, a birdie in golf, and an eagle with the ladies. Often compared to the great Bobby Jones, Bob Grant was captain of the Bulkeley High undefeated golf team of 1928. In 1926, at the age of 16, Bob won the New England Public Links Championship. He was the Connecticut State Champion and Semifinalist in 1927. Bob was selected for the Hartford Courant All-City Team in 1927. Also in 1927, he was the medalist at the CSGA (Connecticut State Golf Association) Connecticut Amateur Championship and reached the semifinals. He won the Public Links Championship three times, in 1932, 1946, and 1954, and he was a runner-up medalist five times. Bobby won 25 CSGA one-day golf tournaments around the state, including ten consecutive wins. In 1955, he was the first Connecticut golfer to be inducted into the CGHOF (Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame). In 1964, Bob was second runner-up in the Hartford Insurance Open. In 1970, Bob placed third in the Greater Hartford Open. In 1974, he received the highest state honor given by the Connecticut Sports Writer Alliance, the Gold Key Award. 

Career Highlights:
    • Played on the first undefeated high school golf team in BHS history, 1928
    • Captain of his high school golf team, 1928
    • School record holder for points in one year with 134-1points
    • State Champion, 1927
    • CSGA Lifetime Achievement Award
    • First Inductee into the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame, 1995
    • The Connecticut State Golf Association established the Robert M. Grant medal award, given to the low qualifier in the state amateur tournament.
Career Highlights:
    • Attorney-at-Law in Connecticut
    • Trinity freshman Donald Potter Award for outstanding contributions, 1963
    • Trinity Blanket Award for earning eight letters, 1966
    • Casey Athletic Medal at Bulkeley High School, 1962
    • Top one percent of his high school graduating class
    • Current record holder for most assists in a single game (21), Trinity College
    • Current record holder for most assists in season and career, Trinity
    • Inducted into the Trinity College Basketball Hall of Fame, 1983.
    • Mc-Cook Award as the outstanding senior athlete at Trinity College  

Joseph "Joe" Hourihan

Class of 1962

Joe played three sports for Bulkeley High School–baseball, basketball, and football– and he played for three Hall of Fame head coaches–Babe Allen, Lou Bazzano, and Ed Korisky. All three of these coaches have been inducted into the Bulkeley High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Joe earned seven varsity letters. He was a catcher on the baseball team and caught for two Hall of Fame pitchers: Bob Raffalo in 1960 and Gene Reilly in 1962. Joe was the co-captain of the football and baseball teams in his senior year, and he was selected to the CDC (Capital District Conference) second team in both sports. Joe was the point guard on the 1962 basketball team that played in the Connecticut State Tournament Finals in New Haven. The 1962 team also went to the New England Tournament finals at the Boston Garden. This team is often said to be one of the best teams that Hall of Fame coach Lou Bazzano ever coached. In Joe’s senior year, he was awarded the prestigious Casey Athletic Medal as the outstanding senior athlete. Joe strove for excellence on the athletic field, as signified by the Casey Award. He attained excellence in the classroom and was ranked third in his graduating class while also playing three varsity team sports. Joe attended Trinity College, where he played three sports. Joe was elected captain of his undefeated basketball team and co-captain of his freshman baseball team. He was a point guard on the basketball team, along with his fellow BHS graduate and lifelong friend Jim Belfiore. In basketball, Joe holds Trinity records that still stand today. 

Fred Kask

Class of 1953

Fred Kask started playing golf more than four decades ago at Goodwin Park and Keney Park. On October 4, 1995, he was inducted into the CGHOF, when he had this to say, “It’s a great honor that I never thought would come to me; I don’t know who chose me, but I am very appreciative.” Fred graduated from Bulkeley High School and was a three-year varsity letter winner. Fred did not have anyone to teach him to play golf or money for lessons, so he taught himself the game of golf. He learned by imitating the swings of players he caddied for at the Wethersfield Country Club and just by hitting golf balls, which he loved. He said, “Hitting golf balls, for me, was peaceful and relaxing.” Fred also loved to play in tournaments, which he found fun. At the age of 60, Fred was chosen as the 34th inductee into the CGHOF (Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame). Fred was selected for this honor by a representative of the CSGA (Connecticut State Golf Association), the Conn. Section, the PGA, and by the state media. At his home course of WCC, Fred won the CSGA Amateur Championship four times. He also won the New England Amateur Championship in 1971. In 1995, Fred won the CSGA Senior Championship. He also played in three US Amateur Championships, three US Senior Championships, and three Insurance City Opens. In 1993, he played in four Society of Senior Golfers tournaments nationwide. Fred placed 2nd in the US Senior Championship in June of 1993. Fred, who lives in East Hartford with his wife Patricia, was a computer analyst for the State of Connecticut for 35 years before retiring in 1993. At that time, he still had a golf handicap of zero.

Fred Kask from the fairway goodwin park
Career Highlights:
    • Inducted into the CGHOF in 1995
    • Four-time WCC (Wethersfield Country Club) CSGA Amateur Champion
    • New England Amateur Champion in 1971
    • CSGA Senior Champion in 1995
    • Played in three US Amateurs
    • Played in three Hartford Insurance City Opens
    • Retired in 1993 with a zero handicap
    • Placed 2nd in the US Senior Championship in June of 1993 
Career Highlights:
    • Connecticut High School Coach of the Year Award in 1967
    • National High School Coaches Association District One Coach of the Year Award, also in 1967
    • CHSCA 25-Year Dedicated Service Award in 1976
    • Inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in 1979
    • Inducted into the State of Connecticut High School Hall of Fame in 1980
    • National High School Coaches Association District One Coach of the Year Award in 1984

Edward "Ted" T. Knurek

Class of 1936-A

Ted Knurek played three sports for Bulkeley High School: football, basketball, and baseball. He played all four of his years at Bulkeley and played for the great Babe Allen. He was a quarterback and was the captain of the 1935 football team. During his time at Bulkeley, the football team won the City Championship three consecutive years in a row (1933, 1934, and 1935). Ted went on to Trinity College, where he continued his outstanding athletic career. He continued to play three sports in college and was awarded seven varsity letters. He was named the football team’s Most Valuable Player in his senior year. After college, Ted began a long and successful career as a high school coach, starting in the city of Plainville in 1945. Ted also coached two semi-professional football teams. After leaving Plainville, Ted was offered a teaching and coaching position at Weaver High School in Hartford in 1956. Ted coached at Weaver with his dedicated and loyal friend, Phil Karney, who also was a teacher and coach at Weaver. Ted and Phil made a great team: Ted was the X and O man and Phil was the enforcer and the main disciplinarian, making sure everyone stayed focused. In 1972, Ted retired from Hartford Public Schools and went on to coach at Penny High School in East Hartford. Ted finally retired in 1984 after a successful coaching career at Penny.

Peter G. Kokinis

Class of 1955

Peter earned nine varsity letters at Bulkeley High School and was co-captain in three sports. He was All-Conference in football and received the Babe Allen Trophy for Most Valuable Player in his junior and senior years. He also received the Casey Medal best athlete and sportsmanship award in 1955. Peter graduated from Springfield College, where he had an outstanding athletic career. Upon Babe Allen’s retirement, Pete was appointed a teacher and coach at Bulkeley High School. He had already been the second baseball coach. Babe Allen passed the baton to Mr. Kokinis, who then went on to coach football and basketball. His football teams won five City Championships and one CDC conference title. His baseball teams won seventeen City Championships and tied for two CDC conference titles. In 1987, his baseball team had a record of 20 and 4, and his team was the only Hartford school baseball team to reach the semifinals of the Class LL CIAC state playoffs prior to 1987.

Career Highlights:
    • Baseball coach at Bulkeley High with 250 wins, 1982-1986
    • Fifteen consecutive City Championships
    • Two CDC’s (Capital District Conference Titles)
    • Five football City Championships
    • One CDC title
    • Head Coach for the CT High School All Star Baseball Team, 1984
    • Athletic Director at Wethersfield High School after retirement from BHS
    • Governor Lowell P. Weicker Official Proclamation from the State of Connecticut, 1990
    • Secretary of State Pauline Kezer Official Proclamation from the State of Connecticut, 1991
    • Inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame, November 15, 2012
    • Inducted into the American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame, January 8, 2016
Career Highlights:
    • Connecticut Women’s Golf Association one-day tournament champion at Edgewood Country Club; Goodwin Park Ladies, Golf Club Invitational Champion with a 79, 1952
    • New Haven Season Opener Champion, 1953
    • CWGA State Champion, 1954
    • Represented Rockledge Country Club for the US Women’s Championship in Sewickly, PA at the Allegheny Country Club, 1954

Patty M. "Petite and Sweet" Torza LaFrancis

Class of 1950

Patty Torza was a graduate of Bulkeley High School. In 1950, the Bulkeley golf team wished Patty could help them out, as did other golf groups playing at Goodwin Park. In the 1950 yearbook, Patty was described as sweet and petite, but she was already recognized as an excellent golfer. She had a winning smile, and she loved golf. Newspapers often mentioned that her size belied her ability, and the pretty little girl became the pretty little lady. At that time, there were no varsity female athletic teams, only intramural sports. Title IX was not formed until 1972, so female athletes had to find another way to participate outside of school. Patty worked at the Connecticut General Insurance Company, where she played basketball with her long-time classmate Lucille Gozzo. Patty said that her best shot in golf was a hole-in-one in 1951, when she played and won the Edgewood Country Club Championship. Even though Patty did not play on a sports team at Bulkeley High School, after high school she received outstanding recognition in the golf world in the state of Connecticut and throughout New England.  Her significant accomplishments have not been duplicated or matched by any female athlete that has graduated from Bulkeley High School. No other female alumnus of Bulkeley High School has played golf with the style, class, and professionalism of Patty M. Torza.

Wayne "Gunner" Leghorn

Class of 1966

Wayne started off slowly as a basketball player for the legendary Hall of Fame coach, Lou Bazzano. During Wayne’s sophomore year, he started several games and he scored a total of 90 points. That year he also played in a state tournament game, where he scored 14 points. In his junior year, he started to find his way. Wayne scored a season total of 381 points and had an average of 20 points per game. He scored 24 points during one state tournament game of his junior year and 25 in another. As a junior, Wayne was awarded the Coach’s Foul Shooting Trophy with a 76% average and was also a unanimous selection for the All-CDC Team (Capital District Conference). Finally, in Wayne’s senior year he became one of the most successful basketball players ever to play for Bulkeley High School. In his senior year, which was also Lou Bazzano’s last year as head coach, Wayne was selected captain of the basketball team. Wayne gave Lou a going-away present with his performance during his coach’s last year. He scored 436 points during that season and averaged 24.2 points per game. This gave him the second-place record for points in a single season, after the great Carmen Perrone, who scored 511 points in one season. Wayne also scored 44 points in a single game that season, placing him ahead of the great Carmen Perrone and Wayne’s older brother, Barry, who both shared the single game scoring record of 41. His record of 44 points in one game was a school record until 1968, when Jackie Brown scored 46 points in a single game.  Wayne still holds the school record for the most points scored in a career with 907, placing him before Carmen Perrone with 891 and Billy Schmidt with 847.

Career Highlights:
    • All-State Second Team, chosen by the New Haven Register
    • Chosen for the First All–State Team by the Sunday Herald
    • All-City Team
    • Unanimous selection to the All-CDC Team
    • Joseph T. Casey Outstanding Athlete Award
    • Coach’s Most Valuable Player Trophy
    • Coach’s Foul Shooting Trophy with a three-year career average of 83%
michael liappes

Michael A. "Squeaky" Liappes

Class of 1960

Michael played on the BHS varsity baseball team for Babe Allen for three years, from1958 to 1960. He was a reliable and exceptionally fast centerfielder and a fierce competitor. He was selected for the All-Conference Team in 1960. He was awarded three varsity letters in baseball. After graduation, Michael attended CCSU and graduated with a BS degree in 1965. In the summer prior to attending CCSU, Michael’s team won the J.C. Graduate League Championship, and Michael was voted the MVP in the J.C. Courant Graduate Division in 1963.

Career Highlights:
    • Captain of his college baseball team in his senior year
    • Assistant coach at CCSU, 1965-1966
    • Head Baseball Coach at Hartford Community College, 1967-1969
    • Community College Baseball Team Coach when they won the 1969 Championship 
    • Varsity Baseball Coach at Penney High School, 1973-1985
    • Member of the CIAC Baseball LL Champion team, 1983.
    • Played for the Penney High School Administrative Team
    • Played in the NAIA College Regional Championship Division III playoffs at Yankee Stadium, 1965
    • Inducted into the Hartford Twilight League Hall of Fame

Michael Neely

Class of 1976

Coach Roger Vertefeuille, (known as Mr. V. by his players) had this to say: “Michael is a giant of a man, and he is also a leader by example.” Michael was also referred to as a gentleile giant. When he wasserved as a fireman for the Hartford Fire Department, one of his friends was a man by the name of Billy Kamm. Billy used to tell Michael, “Don’t you ever be out when we have a fire.” Members of his stations said that Michael was so strong that if the fire truck had a flat tire, Michael could lift the truck up off the ground, so the flat could be repaired. At BHS, Michael lettered in track and wrestling (three years each) and was awarded 6 varsity letters.

Career Highlights:
    • USA National High School All-American Wrestling Team
    • All-State Wrestling Champion, 1975 and 1976
    • State Sectional Wrestling Champion, 1975 and 1976
    • State Class L Wrestling Champion, 1976
    • State Class L State Champion in the 800-Meter
    • State Open Wrestling Champion for all four CIAC classes, L/M/S/LL after defeating all class champions; current CIAC record holder
    • School record holder in his weight class, 54-6.
    • Freestyle AAU New England Open Champion, 1977 and 1978
    • AAU Class L New England Champion
    • AAU Freestyle New England Open Champion, 1977 and 1978
    • AAU National State Game Wrestling Champion, 2000-2003
    • Northern Regional Open Wrestling Champion, 2006
edward pawlowski

Edward C. "Eddie" Pawlowski

Class of 1937

Edward C. Pawlowski was an outstanding two-sport athlete, playing football and track for the “Maroon and White,” as they were called in the early days. In football, Ed was known as a triple threat who could pass, kick, and throw; he was an outstanding running back for the great Babe Allen. Ed was captain of the football team in his senior year. He played on three consecutive teams that won the City Football Championships, in 1935, 1936, and 1937. His track team won the Greater Hartford Championship against teams from the region consisting of Hartford, Weaver, and West Hartford. In 1935, the track team won the Hartford Scholastic Championship. In 1936, Ed won the Courant’s Greater Hartford Football Scholar Athlete Award.

Career Highlights:
    • Founder of the Allyn Athletic Club, which promoted sports for city youth
    • Organized the Pulaski Democratic Club, 1954
    • Served in WWII, 1943-1945, and was awarded the purple heart
    • Served as a secretary to Connecticut Congressman Frank Kowalski, 1958-1962
    • Served on the Hartford City Council, 1957-1959
    • Manager and director of the Hartford Polish American Home, 1962-1972
    • President of the Polish National Home for seven years
    • Sponsored naturalization instruction for immigrants in the 1950’s and 1960’s
    • Attended Providence College on a football scholarship
    • Played semi-pro football with the Blue Ridge Club as a halfback
    • Honored posthumously by the New York Times in a full front-page article, “The extraordinary who lived among us,” for helping the Polish community, Dec. 26, 2004
    • Honored at the State Capital, May 3, 2011, “For his tireless work on behalf of the Polish community of Connecticut” 

Gerard M. "Jerry" Peterson

Class of 1950

Like many of his neighborhood friends, when young Jerry Peterson had free time, he enjoyed playing golf. They would sneak onto the flat-nine at Goodwin Park on Maple Avenue. After the war, most families did not have extra money to play golf. The kids used to play three holes, the third, fourth and fifth, until it was dark or they were chased off the course by the superintendent. Like many of the young men living near Goodwin Park, Keney Park, or Wethersfield Country Club, Jerry worked as a caddy in order to make money in the summer. He started to caddy at the age of 12; before that, he had a shoe shine business. Jerry had three brothers, and they all attended Bulkeley High and played sports there. Jerry’s older brother Ray chose track for his sport. Manny and Rufus Peterson, along with Jerry, played for the golf team. All three brothers played golf in college, attending the University of Hartford and the University of Connecticut; they were known as the golfing Peterson family. Jerry was drafted into the United States Army in 1953, and he graduated from UConn in 1957 with a B.A. in economics. Jerry then sought membership in the Keney Park Men’s Golf Club.  He needed to do this in order to join the Connecticut State Golf Association and get a state handicap card. The men’s club denied Jerry membership. Since the course was owned by the City of Hartford and he was a citizen, he should have been allowed to join. In August of 1963, Jerry asked the City Manager, Elisha Freedman, for advice. Jerry claimed he was denied membership due to racial bias. Five months later, after the Keney Men’s Club was threatened with expulsion by the City Council, Jerry was allowed to join. Jerry won the Men’s Club President Cup trophy, shooting a 68 and beating the club champion. 

Career Highlights: 
    • First African-American to be hired at Aetna’s administrative staff level
    • Broke the racial bias in the City of Hartford’s golf courses Keney and Goodwin
    • Member of the Bulkeley High Golf Team, 1948-1950
    • Member of the Aetna Golf Team, 1957
    • Championship Flight Trophy Winner for the United Golf Association Tournaments in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, 1957-1970 
    • President of the Midway Golf Club in Hartford, 1959-1964
    • Vice President for the United Golf Association, 1962-1964
    • Integrated Keney Park Men’s Club in 1964
    • Treasurer for National Minority Golf Foundation, 1989-1994
    • Rules Official for the United States Golf Association for the Senior Amateur Championships, 1994-2007
    • Inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida, 2015 

John "Whitey" Piurek

Class of 1935

“What is wisdom but having a great deal to say and keeping quiet?” This was written in 1935 under John’s picture in his yearbook. John played three sports at Bulkeley High School and was the Valedictorian of the Class of 1935. He went on to play for one of the greatest teams in Holy Cross College history and was the top athlete there in the Class of 1939.  Whitey played minor league baseball and was part of a barnstorming team which included Joe DiMaggio and Carl Furillo. He started his coaching career in 1942 at Plainville High School, and he was also a major league scout for over 40 years. As a teacher, coach, and athletic director at West Haven High School, he helped organize the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. In 1979, a New Haven sportswriter wrote, “Those young men who have played for and survived Whitey will tell you it wasn’t easy. But eventually, they realized that they’ve become better men because of their experience.”

Career Highlights: 
    • First coach in the state of Connecticut to achieve 500 career wins
    • Coached three sports for sixteen years at West Haven High School
    • Athletic Director at West Haven High School for 23 years
    • Major league scout for Brooklyn Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners, 1948-1989
    • Official for baseball, basketball, football, and soccer
    • Coach of the Year, National Coaches Association, 1968
    • Baseball record: 526 wins and 115 loses, 2 CIAC championships and 21 District Crowns
    • First Connecticut Coach inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, 1998
    • Inducted into the West Haven High School Hall of Fame, 2000

Harold "Bud" Schwerdtfeger

Class of 1945

Harold played two sports, football and baseball, for the legendary coach and Hall of Famer Arthur ‘Babe” Allen. Bud excelled in both sports, in football as a powerful running back and in baseball as an outfielder. Bud was known for his powerful long home runs as a left-handed hitter. It is said that when Bud hit a ball to right field in Goodwin Park, the ball would go over the trees and land on Brown Street. Kids on the street used to fight to catch the home run. In football, he was an outstanding offensive and defensive player. He played on the first Bulkeley team to beat New Britain High School. Bud was selected for the All-State Second Football Team in 1944. As a senior, he received the Joseph Casey Award for an outstanding Bulkeley High School athlete. Bud attended Kingswood private school from 1946 to 1947 and played three sports there: football, basketball, and baseball. He excelled in all three and won the outstanding athlete award while at Kingswood. Bud then attended Trinity College, where he played football and baseball. After college, Bud played fast pitch softball in the Insurance league. 

Career Highlights:
    • New Haven Register Second Team All-State in Football, 1944
    • Received the Joseph Casey outstanding athlete award at Bulkeley
    • Attended Kingswood private school
    • Received the outstanding athlete award at Kingswood School
    • Served in the United States Navy
    • Active member of the Windsor Locks High School Football Booster Club in the 1970’s
    • Coached Little League baseball and Midget football in Windsor Locks from the 1960’s to the 1970’s 
Career Highlights:
    • First Team All-City
    • First Team All-District
    • West Haven All-Opponents First Team
    • Drafted by the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers
    • History teacher at Bloomfield Public Schools for 33 years
    • Married his college sweetheart. 

Daniel "Danny" Simeone

Class of 1947

In Danny’s yearbook, written under his name were the words, “With calm content and modest dignity.” His classmates said of Danny that “the praise he received for his participation on the football field was well deserved, but his modesty never allowed him to hear it without a crimson blush.”  His popularity was due to not only his athletic ability but also to his fine character. Danny was never absent and received no demerits in four years. He was a three-year starter and received three varsity letters playing football for Babe Allen. Danny was an outstanding fullback and linebacker with exceptional speed for a power runner, and he could throw the football with precise accuracy. In 1946, Dan’s senior year, he was chosen for the All-City Team and the All-District Team. He missed selection to the New Haven Register’s All-State First Team by one vote. The Hartford Courant sports writer Bill Lee wrote of him, “the fullback is ‘Dynamite’ Danny Simeone of Bulkeley, who combined speed with brute force and was the most feared runner in the district.” He was also a terror on defense, and he closed out his career in a blaze of glory. He went on to play for Villanova University in 1949, where his team was 8-1. He played against teams like Texas A&M, Penn State, Boston College, and North Carolina. In 1949, Villanova was ranked third in the nation.

Michael Sposito

Class of 1979

Michael was a three-sport athlete at Bulkeley High School, participating in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track under the mentorship of Coach Vertefuielle. He received eleven varsity letters in three sports. Michael was not only an exceptional athlete but also an exceptional student. He was a member of the National Honor Society, and he received the 1979 Scholar Athlete of the Year Award and also the Principal’s Scholarship Award from the Alumni Association. In 1977 and 1978, Michael was undefeated in dual track meets. In 1979, he was the Indoor Class L State Champion. In 1977 and 1978, Michael was All-Conference in cross country. In 1977, 1978, and 1979, Michael was City Champion in the two-mile indoor run. He received a BS Degree from Marquette University. In 1999, Michael received the Annual Winner Excellence Award. In 2001, he received the National Leadership Award. “Research supports participation in extracurricular activities, such as sport, enhances a person’s character, instilling a sense of commitment to oneself and to others.”

Career Highlights:
    • Eleven varsity letters for cross country and track, 1975-1979
    • Undefeated in cross country dual meets, 1977-1978
    • 1978 Greater Hartford Open Invitational Champion (Team) for cross country
    • City Champion two-mile run, indoor track, 1977-1979
    • All-CDC Conference Selection, 1977-1978
    • Indoor State Class L Track Champion
    • National Honor Society Member
    • Principal’s Scholarship Award Winner, Alumni Association, 1979
Career Highlights:
    • National High School All-American Wrestling Team, 1984
    • Placed 2nd in the CIAC, Class L State Championship, 1981
    • Placed 1st in the CIAC, Class L State Championship, 1982
    • Placed 1st in the CIAC, State Open Championship, 1982
    • Placed 1st in the CIAC, State Class L Championship, 1983
    • Placed 2nd in the CIAC, State Open Championship, 1983
    • Placed 1st in the CIAC, State Class L Championship, 1984
    • Placed 1st in the CIAC State Open Championship, 1984
    • First All-State Team selected by the Hartford Courant, 1984
    • New England Champion, 1983 and 1984
    • Member of the Connecticut Freestyle Team, 1984
    • Captain of the BHS Wrestling Team, 1984
    • Undefeated for two seasons, 73 and 0
    • Overall career record: 126 wins and 10 losses
    • Cross country captain, 1984
    • Cross country CDC (all district conference) All-Star for three years
    • Best Male Athlete and Scholar Male Athlete, 1984 

Margaro Velez

Class of 1984

Margaro, encouraged by two close friends a year older than him, joined the wrestling team in 1980. When his friends returned from matches, they would tell him about the match. He envisioned himself bouncing off ropes like a boxer. To his surprise, when he walked into the wrestling room for the first time, he did not see any ropes. Since the picture in his mind was a boxing ring, he was upset with his friends for not telling him. Later in life, he realized how much he owed all of his wrestling accomplishments to his friends. One of his closest friends has since passed, but that friend’s influence on his life still burns inside Margaro. His coach, Mr. Roger Vertefeuille, (known as Coach V.) had this to say about Margaro: he did not receive any MDO’s in his four years of high school, and he finished in the top 10% of his class. His teachers called him a born leader and his coaches called him a natural athlete. He was passionate about his sport and he had the heart of a lion. The only way to express this athlete’s accolades is to list them all.

Roger "The Dodger" Vertefeuille

Class of 1979

Roger was a member of the 1950 undefeated football team and played with some of the greats, Karsky, Maribello, Mazurek, and others who were inducted into the Bulkeley High School Inaugural Class of 2015. Roger also played baseball for the ledgendary Babe Allen. Roger went on to graduate from the University of Connecticut with a BS degree in physical education. He was  an outstanding baseball player, and was looked at by some of the Major League scouts. Roger decided to take a physical education and coaching position in the City of Hartford, hired by the legendary City Athletic Director Joe Gargon. Roger than coached for over 30 years at Bulkeley High School in three sports: cross country, wrestling and outdoor track. Roger was known as the “energizer bunny.”  Roger was a master teacher for teaching the fundamentals of wrestling to young men who did not have any experience in the sport prior to coming to Bulkeley High School. Roger could train and mold a novice athlete in wrestling and by his senior year Coach V. could develop him into a State Champion, New England Champion, High School All American.

Career Highlights:
    • Elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, 2004
    • 15 State Sectional Champions
    • 13 State Champions
    • Ten Conference Championships
    • 9 Open Champions
    • 5 USA All-Americans coached
    • 10 State Sectional Championships
    • Wrestling teams won over 250 matches from 1968-1994
    • High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year 
Career Highlights:
    • National rebounding leader at Trinity.
    • Voted All-American Pitcher in 1953.
    • Played for the Milwaukee Braves Professional Farm System for three years.
    • Inducted into the Trinity College Hall of Fame.
    • Inducted into the Hartford Twilight League Hall of Fame for baseball.
    • Inducted into the East Hartford Explorers Hall of Fame basketball.
    • Inducted into the Wethersfield High School Hall of Fame.
    • Teacher and administrator in the Wethersfield Public School System for 37 years. 

Charles J. "Charlie" Wrinn

Class of 1949

Charlie Wrinn was a three-sport athlete at Bulkeley High School; he was on the swimming team, basketball, and baseball team. He was a starting center for Babe Allen’s basketball team. The New Haven Register voted him to the Second Team All-State Basketball Squad in 1948. In basketball, Charlie was an outstanding rebounder, and he was considered with the great Billy Schmidt as one of the two top rebounders in the history of Bulkeley High School basketball. In 1949, Charlie led the Hartford District in basketball scoring. In baseball, he was an outstanding pitcher for Babe Allen. Charlie attended Trinity College, where he was known as one of the most prolific college athletes to ever play at Trinity. He played baseball and was captain in his senior year. In basketball, he holds the rebounding record at Trinity and led the nation in rebounding, with 25.6 rebounds per game, in 1953. He was also voted the basketball team’s Most Valuable Player in 1953. He was also voted MVP in baseball as a senior in 1953. That same year, District I–A honored him as an All-American Pitcher.