By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Sports Hall of Fame banquet is right around the corner and the honorees this year are a mix of some of the best and brightest the Mum City has ever produced.
The official 2017 Induction Celebration takes place from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Bristol on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m.
The doors open at 6 p.m. at the DoubleTree.
The inductees for the event are John M. Benzinger, Matt Wilson, Joe Jandreau, Daryl Floyd, Jack Hines, Dr. Werner Rosshirt, Don Cassin, Adrian Wojnarowski, and John Benzinger.
Here is the official write-up of all who will be honored at the BSHOF special event:
John M. Benzinger
A 1982 graduate of Bristol Central, he played football and baseball for the school, winning all-state honors in football. He went on to play football at UMass where he earned recognition as an honorable mention All-American. He was an offensive guard on the roster of the New England Patriots during the 1987 strike season. He played for two national champion AFA Marlboro Shamrocks semi-pro teams and was All-EFL seven times.
His Bristol affiliations started with McCabe-Waters Little League, where he had 23 career homers, a .500-plus batting average, and multiple no-hitters as a pitcher. He hit a home run over center field at Muzzy Field as a Pony League player and received Most Dedicated Player honors while playing for the Bristol American Legion team. His adult life outside of Bristol saw him coach, manage, and serve as a Youth League president and AAU team founder.
He played baseball for the local South Street Tigers, football and baseball at Bristol High School, and one year of football at UConn before entering the U.S. Navy. He played football, basketball and baseball in the Navy and was a member of the football team that won the island championship and went on to play in the Rice Bowl in Japan. He later coached Bristol Midget Football, was one of the originators of the Toilet Bowl, and won championships as a sponsor of the Edgewood Little League Mets.
He sponsored the Bristol Cassins of the Hartford Twilight Baseball League and the Cassins semi-pro basketball team of the New England Basketball Association. He was a committee member of the Bristol Tramps and was honored by the Tramps in 1998. He was active in the community, including serving on the city council. As the state’s commissioner of Public Works, he oversaw the construction of Gampel Pavilion.
He played basketball at Memorial Boulevard School between 1969 and 1971 and earned all-star honors in the Edgewood Little League. He played four years of basketball and competed in track for three years at Bristol Eastern before graduating in 1975. He won all-city and all-conference honors, and was twice an All-State basketball player. The 4X100 and 4X400 relay teams he ran for in track were city champions, as well as school and city record-holders.
He went on to play basketball for one year at Northfield Mt. Hermon School before playing for Boston University between 1976 and 1980. In 1979, he was voted the most improved player on the Boston University team.
In April 2016, he was honored with the William “Bill” Garrett Award by the Bristol Tramps at its “Golden Age of the Tramps Sports Reunion Dinner.”
In 1975 as an 11-year-old, he led the Forestville Little League All-Stars to the state finals. The following year, the team went all the way to the World Series and finished fifth overall. That summer, he hit 31 home runs in 33 games and batted over .600. He later led the Pony League with a .500-plus batting mark.
He played three seasons of varsity baseball for Bristol Eastern, earning all-conference each season and All-State his senior year. At Bristol Eastern, he had a career batting average of .408 and slugging percentage of .473. Following his senior season, he played for the CT All-Star team and had one of the team’s three hits in a loss to Massachusetts. A four-year player for the Bristol American Legion and two-time All-Zone One pick, he had a career batting average of .384. He was noted for his batting, leadership skills and base stealing ability.
Prior to moving to Bristol, he was baseball captain as a catcher and a member of the basketball team at Hartford Public High. He played basketball at Central Connecticut State College. He served as a JV basketball coach at Newington High School. He was a Greater Hartford Twilight League Hall of Fame inductee in 1988.
When he came to Bristol, he quickly became involved with both sports and non-sport activities and organizations. He has been a longtime member of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame, having served as executive director, as a director and currently as president. The Bristol Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Ceremony was his brainchild and is named in his honor. His involvement with sports includes serving as chairman of the Hartford Civic Center Advisory Committee and being a director of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. He was honored by the Bristol Tramps in 2008 with the Chuck McCarthy Award, and has also been recognized by numerous other organizations in Bristol.
He became the senior NBA Insider for ESPN in 2017, breaking news on SportsCenter and ESPN.com. For over a decade previously at Yahoo Sports, he helped revolutionize the newsgathering industry on the internet and social media with his news breaking, storytelling and information.
As a newspaper reporter and columnist, he won national awards at papers at Waterbury, Conn., Fresno and Northern Jersey. He wrote a New York Times-bestselling book, “The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty.”
He is a product of Bristol public schools, a 1987 graduate of Bristol Central and a 1991 graduate of St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y. He played baseball for Coach Tom Moylan with the Rams. Upon joining ESPN, he began The Writing Initiative for students at Bristol Central.
Dr. Werner “Willie” Rosshirt
A native of Bristol, he is a 1976 graduate of Bristol Central, where he played three varsity sports; soccer, basketball, and tennis. As a captain of the basketball team, he earned second team All-State honors as a senior when he averaged 16-plus points a game. He went unbeaten in tennis with a 13-0 record his senior year. He received the Thomas Monahan Award as the school’s outstanding male athlete in 1976. He graduated fourth in his class and was a member of the school’s National Honor Society.
He went on to become a basketball co-captain at Trinity College and received the Bob Harron Award as Trinity’s outstanding student-athlete his junior year. His years in sports were part of what helped him to reach his goal of becoming a doctor, graduating in 1986 from the UConn School of Medicine.
A native of Bristol, he comes from a sports-minded family. He grew up playing Little League baseball at McCabe-Waters and worked his way up to become a Class LL All-State baseball pick in 1989 for Bristol Central. He was a standout on the Bristol American Legion baseball team before going on to play for Div. 1 Stetson University and later professionally.
He completed his doctorate work at the University of Georgia and is currently an associate professor of sports business at Stetson University. His work has appeared in USA Today, Time Magazine, The Seattle Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and on Inside Higher Education ESPN Radio. He has made several presentations, including some on the international stage. His many honors include also being recognized in Bristol in 2016 by the Bristol Tramps Sports Reunion Committee.