STAMFORD, Conn. — Seven key sports figures from the area were honored Wednesday at UConn-Stamford with the unveiling of their plaques into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame.
The inductees were as follows: John Bagley of Bridgeport and Bennett Salvatore of Stamford into the Jackie Robinson Professional Wing; Joe DeSantis of Fairfield and Ceci Hopp St. Geme of Greenwich into the James O’ Rourke Amateur wing; and Charlie Bentley of Bridgeport and the late Albie Loeffler of Westport in the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service Wing.
The seventh honoree, Stamford’s Andy Robustelli, was part of the initial class in 2005 but declined, saying he did not want to be in the spotlight, said Tom Chiappetta of the Fairfield County Sports Commission. After Robustelli died in May, his children decided it would be appropriate to add his plaque to the Hall of Fame.
“You see the people here and realize what a special place this is,” said Rick Robustelli, the eldest child of the Hall of Fame New York Giant. He was pleased to see his father added to the hall with the other great local sports figures.
After graduating from Harding High School, Bagley went on to become the 12th overall pick in the 1982 NBA draft and played 11 seasons in the basketball league.
Salvatore, who also happens to be Robustelli’s son-in-law, is in his 30th season as an NBA referee.
Former Fairfield University basketball star DeSantis continues to stay close to the sport by broadcasting at the collegiate level. “Without Fairfield University and so many people from Fairfield County this wouldn’t be possible,” he said of being inducted.
Hopp St. Geme won the National Cross Country Championship while at Greenwich High School in 1980 and continues to run now at the Master’s level.
Dan Woog, current soccer coach at Staples High School in Westport, accepted the honor for Loeffler, who founded the soccer program at the school in 1958 and was twice named National Soccer Coach of the Year. “He would say it’s not about me, it’s about my players,” Woog said.
Bentley is a former basketball coach at Harding High School, where he won nine state championships in 33 years.
The hall of fame is based at UConn-Stamford and features plaques for all 45 members. Other notable members include Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine, Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, retired NFL quarterback Steve Young and NHL star Chris Drury.