Tag Archives: Westport Little League

Remembering Bob Davis

Bob Davis — an epic Little League umpire, longtime Norwalk Hospital and PTA volunteer and world traveler — died September 4. He was 93 years old.

He and his wife Agnes lived in Westport for 50 years, before moving to Florida in 2015. Click here for their “06880” sendoff.

He became president of his high school class, Eagle Scout, quarterback for the undefeated Jefferson High School football team, manager for the wrestling and track teams, and secretary-treasurer for the Letterman’s Club, while working as an usher, clerk, and soda jerk. The achievement of which he was most proud of, however, was winning the American Legion Eighth Grade Medal, which he bragged about his entire life.

Bob joined the Navy right out of high school in 1946, in time to qualify for the GI Bill upon discharge. He became an Electronic Technician Second Class. Stationed in Long Beach, California, he saw the Spruce Goose’s one and only flight.

He attended Pennsylvania State University studying electrical engineering. but in 1951 he was recalled to the Navy during the Korean conflict. He was stationed in Philadelphia, where he said he did little except rack up tips as a carhop, attend night classes at Temple University, and abuse his off-base privileges to hustle fellow sailors for 25-cent delivery fees on Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

After discharge, he graduated in 1955. At Penn State his roommate introduced him to Agnes Paler. He proposed on their first date. It took 4 years, but they were married in April 1955. They had 5 children and lived in a tiny house in Wickliffe, Ohio, until it was apparent that the children would only grow larger and take up more space.

Bob Davis

Bob was working for Bailey Meter’ss advertising department, but his creative potential lead him to advertising positions with Babcock & Wilcox and then a job offer from Al Ries at the “Mad Men” era advertising agency Ries Cappiello Colwell in New York City. This opportunity, combined with the need for more room for his family, led to a move to Westport in 1965.

Bob thrived in the cutthroat world of industrial advertising, producing award-winning campaigns for Texas Gulf and Uniroyal, among others. He drafted his children to work for him on Sundays in Manhattan, stuffing envelopes and scar-inducing fishing lures into plastic boxes for an advertising campaign. He paid them only 25 cents an hour, and they had to buy their own lunches at Horn & Hardart.

In 1973, Bob accepted a job at Perkin-Elmer in Norwalk, reducing his train ride to a much shorter commute, and affording him additional time to volunteer even more.

In 1983 Bob was asked by Perkin-Elmer to manage their Beijing office.. He jumped at the chance (without clearing it first with Agnes). They spent 2 1/2 there. To blend in with the population Bob rode his bicycle everywhere, but as a Kenny Rogers lookalike in a cowboy hat, it was difficult.

He and Agnes considered this an adventure of a lifetime, and forged many deep friendships . They traveled extensively through China and East Asia, and learned all they could about Chinese culture. They signed up to learn Mandarin Chinese but ended up teaching English instead.

Bob was well respected by the Chinese people he met and worked with because of his integrity, honesty and fairness.

Bob was recalled back to the United States in 1985 and settled in Fairfield with Agnes. He worked for Perkin-Elmer in Norwalk until 1989, when he became their support manager in Germany. In 1992 they returned to Connecticut and resettled in Westport.

Bob retired in 1992, but did not slow down. He started International Hosts Unlimited, chauffeuring Perkin-Elmer clients to and from airports and hotels.

He retired (again) in 1996 to focus on volunteer service, including editorial assistant for the Perkin-Elmer Retiree Club newsletter.

In both Ohio and Connecticut, Bob devoted tens of thousands of hours to volunteer work. He served on the Wickliffe School Board, including president. In Westport he was an unsuccessful Democratic sacrificial candidate for the Board of Education in 1979, finishing “a lousy fifth.: Bob was also a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader.

For 21 years, Bob volunteered with the Norwalk Schools Mentor Program, as well as at Norwalk Hospital, transporting wheelchair patients and providing snacks and a smile.

But Bob’s longest and favorite stretch of volunteering was as an umpire for the Westport Little League. He umpired up to 91 games per year for 41 years. He continued into his 80s.

Bob Davis, umpire.

Bob earned the Fairfield County Sportsman of the Year Award in 2010 as the longest-serving umpire in the Westport Little League. He trained wannabe umpires, and never accepted pay. Many Little Leaguers considered him to be a “real umpire” and admired him for his fairness and his deep knowledge of the rules (especially 9.01c).

Bob is survived by Agnes, his wife of 66 years; his brother Reed (Lynn) of Graham, North Carolina; daughters Nancy Shwartz of Danbury, and Mary Lou of The Villages, Florida; sons Ed (Linda) Davis of Hollister, California, John (Ellen) Davis of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Rick (Beth) Davis of Newtown, Connecticut; 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Bob was predeceased by a sister, Nancy Elizabeth; brothers, Tom and Joe, and son-in-law Jeff Shwartz.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held in Connecticut at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Westport Little League, the Norwalk Schools Mentor Program, or Norwalk Hospital.

Friday Flashback #261

When Life magazine went looking for a mom-and-pop business to epitomize community involvement for its July 5, 1963 issue, it found one in Westport.

That’s not unusual: At the time, Westport was bursting with Time/Life editors and writers, and advertising executives at all the top shops.

Achorn’s Pharmacy was actually one of many local sponsors for Little League teams. (Though as alert “06880” reader — and former Little League player — Fred Cantor, who found this gem, points out, it was actually a “pop-and-grandpop”: the Main Street drugstore was owned by Murray and Henry Bravin.)

The Life text explains that the sponsor didn’t get to see his team play, because as an important part of of the community he opens early and closes late. Achorn’s, it seems, symbolized pharmacists and pharmacies everywhere.

Nearly 6 decades later, Achorn’s is still a Westport institution (though now at Playhouse Square). And local businesses continue to support Little League, softball, and countless other sports and youth activities in town.

Donald And Dustin Lowman: Youth Sports Get Big League TV Treatment

Last winter, as Westport edged slowly out of the coronavirus crisis, the youth basketball travel program instituted a strict rule: Only one parent per player could attend games.

Donald Lowman’s 12-year-old son Dhilan was on the team. Donald told parents he could help. He’d broadcast contests on Instagram.

Donald is not a sportscaster. He runs a search and consulting firm with Korn Ferry, focusing on benefits. But he and his son Dustin — a 2011 Staples High School and 2015 Middlebury College graduate, now a freelance writer and musician — are avid Mets fans. They love the announcers’ spirit and camaraderie. They figured they could augment Donald’s iPhone camerawork with their own banter.

The Lowmans’ setup was not sophisticated. (Then again, middle school gyms are not Citi Field.) But parents loved it.

Some said they preferred Donald and Dustin’s feeds to watching games in person. Thanks to the announcers, they knew more about what was going on.

Moms and dads were not the only viewers. Grandparents far from Westport tuned it. It was an exciting, fun way to connect with their grandsons. Some had not seen them in a year.

Travel basketball season ended. Travel baseball began.

“Not everyone wants to drive to Milford,” Donald notes. So he (who had coached all 3 of his sons) and Dustin (who remembered his Little League days fondly) headed out to left field, where their camera could  zoom in on the batter’s box.

Donald did play-by-play. Dustin was the color analyst. In between action — and in baseball, there’s lots of that — they riffed on their shared passion: music and pop culture trivia.

“We both know an enormous amount of useless information,” Dustin says. “It’s not useful anywhere else except here.”

The broadcasters learned each player’s tendencies and special talents. Parents loved that.

Donald and Dustin’s genuine enthusiasm for the game and its young players was infectious. So were Dustin’s insights into his own Little League experience, more than a decade earlier.

Donald and Dustin Lowman, at Westport’s 10U state championship game.

Watching live on Instagram was great. Some viewers — including the players themselves — also watched afterward. “I wish we had that when I was playing,” Dustin says.

Dhilan’s team lost in the district all-star finals. But parents of the 10U team — which was still playing — offered to pay Donald and Dustin to broadcast the state championship.

The duo did it for free. A friend of a coach provided a hi-def camera, mixing board, and headphones. This was the Big Time (Little League-style).

They had by far their largest audience: 500 viewers.

Donald has a full-time job. Dustin has his writing and music projects. They’re not going to turn this into a full-time gig.

But they’re not powering off Donald’s iPhone, either.

The Lowmans are thinking about how to turn their avocation into an after-school project. They’d especially like to reach out to youngsters in neighboring towns, who may not have access to the TV facilities in their schools that Westport kids do.

But enough pre-game chatter. Get some peanuts and Crackerjack. Grab a seat. Then click below.

It’s time to listen to Donald and Dustin’s state championship 10U call.

Roundup: Starbucks Smiles Update, The Bats, Bus Shelters …

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Last Wednesday, “06880” posted a plea from Amanda DeRosa. The Westport mom sought help for her favorite Starbucks worker, a woman in dire straits due to deliver a baby in September.

Less than 5 days later — yesterday morning — Amanda delivered $4,550 in gift cards to the woman. They’re for stores like Buy Buy Baby, Target and Stop & Shop — and they’re all courtesy of “06880” readers.

“I’ve never felt so much joy in my heart,” says Amanda, about the moment she handed the cards (and flowers) to the woman.

“She said she couldn’t believe it. She felt her mom” — who died before she was a teenager — “was looking out for her. We both hugged and cried.”

Thanks go to Amanda — and the more than 100 very generous “06880” readers, who helped make one life a little brighter today.

Amanda DeRose (right) and her Starbucks friend.

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Rex Fowler has played the Levitt Pavilion before. So has Dodie Pettit,

But they’ve never played the Levitt together before.

They’re on stage Thursday (June 24). Of course, Rex and Dodie are not some fill-up-an-empty-date wannabes.

They’re Aztec Two Step 2.0. They’ve toured internationally; their music is known far and wide.

But on Thursday, the husband-and-wife duo will be performing in their home town.

Joining them are other noted musicians, including Westporter Joe Meo and Westonite Chris Coogan. It’s free, but tickets are required. Click here to register, and for more information.

Aztec Two Step 2.0 (from left): Muddy Roues, Joe Meo, Dodie Pettit, Rex Fowler, Peter Hohmeister, Chris Coogan.

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Speaking of music: REO Speedwagon and Styx will open the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport on July 28.

It’s part of the “We Are Back Tour 2021.”

The name is fitting. In 1971,  the most popular track on Speedwagon’s debut album was “157 Riverside Avenue.” That’s where — in Westport — they stayed while recording at Leka’s studio. Which (speaking of “we are back”) was in Bridgeport.

“157 Riverside Avenue” remains one of the band’s concert favorites. No word on whether they’ll take a side trip next month to their old stomping grounds.

If so, they won’t recognize it. Ten years ago, it became just another teardown.

(Tickets for the Bridgeport show go on sale Friday, June 25, 10 a.m. at LiveNation.com.)

(Photo/Peter Tulupman)

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Staples High School’s graduation ceremony last week was special for 450-plus graduates.

It was extra special for 12.

Russell Sherman writes: “In 2009, a group of kindergarten boys started their Little League careers together on a team called The Bats.

“Over the years the boys stayed in touch, and so have the parents. Thursday night, following Staples graduation 12 years later, they gathered for a reunion to celebrate.

“They are fantastic kids. It has been a privilege watching them all grow up. Obviously it is an emotional time for all of us parents. But we can’t help but be proud of them, and excited for what’s to come.”

The Bats, all grown up …

Front row (from left): Danlel Rosenkranz, John Vincini, Owen Sherman, Tucker Lawrence. Middle row: Coach Steve Vincini, Quinn Jumper, Eduardo Andrade, Sam Kleiner, Mathew Ambrifi. Standing: Coaches Russell Sherman and Eduardo Andrade.
Missing: Lucas Dimyan, Steve Greenberg, Mike Greenberg. (Photo/Scilla Vincini)

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Next on the Planning & Zoning Commission agenda: bus shelters.

On Thursday (June 24, 6 p.m.) the board holds a public hearing. A proposed text amendment would define bus shelters, exempt them from coverage requirements, and permit them within the front landscape area setbacks.

An explanatory statement notes that in Westport, bus shelters are considered structures with no special exemptions. Installing them adjacent to the roadway and within the 30-foot front landscape area requires a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The proposal will explicitly define bus Shelters, specify which features are permitted there, specify which agencies are responsible for overseeing the locations, exempt bus shelters from coverage requirements. and allow them to be located within the 30-foot front landscape area setbacks adjacent to the roadway without a variance.

The P&Z meeting will be live streamed on www.westportct.gov, and on Optimum Government Access Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020.  Comments may be sent prior to the meeting at PandZ@westportct.gov, and during the meeting at PandZComments@westportct.gov. Interested parties may join virtually to offer live testimony during the meeting if the meeting link is requested by sending an email to maryyoung@westportct.gov by noontime on the day of the meeting.

Waiting for the bus — without a shelter. (Photos courtesy of Planning & Zoning Commission Bus Shelter Working Group

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is Molly Alger’s darling dahlia:

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … happy 68th birthday, to the amazing Cyndi Lauper!

Caroline Almonte’s Little League Tale

Caroline Schillaci Almonte writes:

I know that no town is perfect. But I have to say Westport came pretty close to it on Saturday.

My 6th grade son Elias — a first-time Little League player — was allowed to pitch his first game today.

Elias is not only new to the game of baseball, but he also has special needs. He has been driving his very patient coaches crazy all season to let him pitch. His dream finally came true.

Now on the mound for the Angels: Elias Almonte!

He had a tough time locating his pitches. Yet the opposing players and coaches were nice enough to allow for a few strikeouts.

My son beamed, as both teams clapped and cheered for him. He hugged everyone — his teammates, and the other team.

I realized he needed this win today.

I would like to thank our Angels coaches, Gama and Adrian, the Rangers coaches, the players on both teams, and especially the parents of these players. You should b eproud of the fact that you have raised kind, empathetic children.

I am proud to be part of such a great community.

Elias Almonte (right) with teammates, earlier this year.

 

Friday Flashback #154

The opening of the transformed Westport Library brought back memories of the original — and reminders, once again, that it was built on what was once the “town dump.”

Alert — and historic minded — “06880” reader Fred Cantor found a fascinating aerial photo, published by the Town Crier in 1965

(Photo/Robert Lentini)

Back then, the library was located in the building at the lower left of the photo. Today it’s the site of Starbucks, Freshii and other tenants.

Across the Post Road — at the foot of what we now call the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge — is a block of shops and apartments that burned in the late 1960s or early ’70s. Today it’s South Moon Under, and other stores.

But the most fascinating part of the photo is seen beyond Jesup Green and the Taylor Place parking lot. There — in the center of town — sat the Rogers Little League baseball diamond. The dugouts are about where the upper entrance to the library lot is today. (Why is it so bumpy now? Landfill.)

Unfortunately, the photo does not show what lies beyond left and center field. That was the town dump.

It smelled. It attracted seagulls. It was not uncommon for the birds to swoop near unsuspecting outfielders, attempting to catch flies (the baseball variety).

Around that time — perhaps a few years later — Westport artist Arthur Cady drew a series of Westport scenes.

(Illustration by Arthur Cady/courtesy of Jim Ezzes)

This one may have been a bit of artistic license. I don’t think the dump was quite that close to downtown.

But it sure was near to what is now Tiffany, nestling right behind on Taylor Place.

Photo Challenge #240

Last week’s Photo Challenge was a bit of a curveball.

The image showed a sign: “No Little League Parking Beyond This Point.” In the background was a brick building, and some steps. (Click here for the photo.)

The field behind Town Hall! most readers responded.

A great guess. But wrong.

This sign can be seen at The Saugatuck Cooperative — the apartment complex on Bridge Street, between South Compo and Imperial Avenue.

Michael Calise and Chip Stephens — former Little Leaguers, back in the day — knew that before it was converted to housing, the building was the site of the original Saugatuck Elementary School. Darcy Sledge — who I don’t think played Little League here — also knew the correct answer. (In its earlier, wooden incarnation it was called the Bridge Street School.)

The playground and most athletic fields fell into disuse when Saugatuck El closed, back in the 1980s. But Little League continued to use the small diamond there up until a few years ago, even after the school was re-imagined as apartments.

Fred Cantor — who took the photo — is a longtime sports fan (and former Staples soccer player). Play ball!

Maggie Gomez provides this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Maggie Gomez)

Pic Of The Day #771

After the Memorial Day parade, Little Leaguers own Main Street. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pic Of The Day #739

Lots of action at the Little League field (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Remembering Perrin Delorey

Jeffrey Brill — president of Westport Baseball and Softball — sent this very sad statement tonight:

As many of you in the Little League community learned today, Perrin Delorey, a 10-year-old Westport Little League player, passed away tragically following a car accident on Sunday afternoon after visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Perrin passed with his Little League glove beside him. I will always remember him, as he appears in this photo after receiving a game ball this Spring season on May 5.

Perrin Delorey

On behalf of Westport Little League, we offer our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Delorey family and friends.

I am sending this note not only as the President of Westport Little League Baseball and Softball, but also as a coach of his AA team, the Cubs. I have gotten to know Perrin very well over the years while coaching him in baseball, basketball and soccer.

Wearing #5 on the Cubs this season, Perrin embodied the ethos and spirit of Little League. He exuded the team player concept and was committed to working hard to help his team.

Awarding him a game ball earlier in the season, and seeing his face in the moment, was a highlight of the coaches’ and players’ season. He was the most improved player on the team this season, and a joy to coach. My co-coaches and his prior coaches all echo this sentiment. He will deeply missed by his teammates, coaches and friends.

This news hits the Westport Little League community especially hard in these circumstances. Perrin’s first cousin, Phillip Sullivan, plays on the AA Brewers team and his grandfather, Bill Ryan, is a longtime friend and supporter of Westport Little League. Please join me in supporting the Delorey, Ryan and Sullivan families during this incredibly difficult time.

RWestport Little League intends to honor Perrin in a number of ways that we will be announcing and we will share different ways you can honor his memory.

When Perrin’s mother mentioned to me that Perrin would miss the Cubs playoff game this past Saturday, I promised her that Perrin would play another game with the Cubs after Saturday — no matter what happened this past Saturday on the field as a function of the double elimination nature of the playoffs — and reassured her that he should not miss out on a trip with his family and a visit to Cooperstown.

While the latter was certainly true about spending precious time with his family, I could not have been more wrong about the former, as events off the baseball field dictated the tragic course of events.

If we can take anything away from this senseless tragedy, it is that life can be transient and fragile, and one should relish every moment with one’s loved ones on the field and off the field.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with Perrin’s family and friends.