Tag Archives: Westport Little League

Remembering Tom Hofstetter

Longtime Westporter Tom Hofstetter — whose civic involvement in Westport included Sunrise Rotary, sports, the arts, his church and more —  died peacefully last week in Aiken, South Carolina. He was 90.

The Baltimore native majored in history at Washington College, then attended the University of Maryland Law School. After training at the Army Intelligence School, he served as an undercover CIC agent in Japan and Korea, at the end of the Korean War.

Back in the US, he obtained credentials from a small Maryland newspaper, and traveled to Cuba to report on the revolution there. He endured a restaurant bombing, and had weapons pointed in his face.

Returning to Baltimore, Tom worked in sales with Dun & Bradstreet, then transitioned into the brokerage business with Merrill Lynch. He became Walston & Company’s Northeastern sales manager, while completing courses at the University of Pennsylvania’s Investment Banking Institute.

Tom proposed to his wife Sally the first day he met her, at a Sunday morning church service.

He worked closely with Maryland’s governor and Baltimore’s mayor on many civic initiatives. He held leadership positions on the Baltimore Jail Board, Airport Planning Commission, Jaycees and Tourism Commission, and Fort McHenry. In 1964 he ran as the Republican candidate for Maryland’s 7th US Congressional District.

After moving to Westport in 1969, Tom served as vice president at Walston’s New York headquarters, and was active at the New York Stock Exchange. He led their first national marketing conference, and was pivotal in the exchange’s expansion into insurance and annuity sales.


After Wall Street, he opened Westport’s first brokerage branch. He built an extensive brokerage presence in Fairfield County, as Salomon Smith Barney’s vice president of investments.

He also traveled throughout Europe, in Hungary and Slovenia prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. He sailed extensively too, on his sailboat moored at Compo Beach.

In Westport Tom founded the Sunrise Rotary Club, and served as president of Little League. He was also chief of the Tanka Tiki Indians – YMCA Indian Guides; board member of the Westport-Weston Foundation; board member of the Westport Historical Society; deacon of Greens Farms Congregational Church; 2-term master of Masonic Lodge #65; president of the Norwalk Symphonic Orchestra, and chairman of the board of Ashlar of Newtown, a skilled nursing facility.

In retirement Tom spent time at his Vermont cabin of 30 years, exploring the back country. He and Sally also traveled through the Caribbean, Russia, the Cape of Good Hope and the Arctic. He became a scholar of Arctic history and a collector of Inuit art, traveling extensively by light aircraft and Russian icebreaker to the far reaches of the area.

Relocating to Aiken in 1998, Tom promoted the arts. He served as president of the Augusta Opera, co-founder and past chairman of the Aiken Symphony, founder of the Aiken Opera Society, and trustee of Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, Inc.

He also created Aiken Performing Arts, which introduced the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra to the area in 2005. He brought in world-class artists, while creating outreach opportunities through master classes and more.

Tom is survived by Sally, his wife of 62 year; son Thomas C. Hofstetter III, daughter Kimberly Dracon, 5 grandsons and sister Joyce May.

Funeral services are set for Saturday, June 25 in Aiken. Tom will be laid to rest on Thursday, June 30 in Westport, at a private family burial.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, 262 East Gate Drive #440, Aiken, SC 29803.

Unsung Hero #236

Baseball season is in full swing (ho ho). Which means there’s no better time to honor Beth Cody as our Unsung Hero than now.

Beth Cody

After nearly 22 years, Beth is Westport Little League’s 2nd-longest tenured volunteer. She is currently executive secretary, and as registrar handles all baseball and softball registration.

But her real value comes as co-founder and commissioner of the Challenger program.

She and her son Jack started Challenger — a program for children with mental and physical challenges — 9 years ago.

Together, they built it (and the Westport Winners team) from scratch. Beth administers it entirely herself — including outreach to sponsors, so it is entirely free.

Challenger commissioner Beth Cody (front, blue shirt) join Challenger players, buddies, Staples High School players and Little League alum/Duke University star Chad Knight (center rear, white shirt) at the diamond.

Westport Little League president Jeffrey Brill calls Challenger “the gold standard of our Little League.” Though Beth has no child in the program, she  singlehandedly coordinates it all: securing fields; ordering equipment, uniforms and trophies; scheduling and re-scheduling games; recruiting players ages 5-18; organizing coaches; finding and pairing over 200 “buddies” a year, and running creative events like Field Day, Halloween parties and pizza parties.

Beth attends every game and activity, home and away. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and helps create the warm, intimate feeling that is a Westport Challenger hallmark.

Among Beth Cody’s many activities: taking photos at Challenger games.

Buddies form lifelong friendships with players. Brill sees this first-hand with his son, a buddy volunteer with a lasting relationship with a player that transcends the diamond. Both have been enriched beyond measure.

Beth’s admirers are legion. A mother says, “After 17 years in Westport sports, she is the most dedicated team manager I have ever known. Beth shows patience and kindness toward every player, buddy, and the parents. She may be the most disappointed participant when we have to cancel due to weather!”

Parent Stacie Curran says the program provides “a true sense of belonging to a team. Challenger Baseball is a place of comfort and no judgment. Parents share common struggles, support, patience and understanding.

“We laugh, we cry, we rely on each other – and we owe our thanks for this club to the amazing ‘Commish’ Cody.”

Beth Cody with Westport Winner stalwart Dylan Curran.

Parent Beth Fahimi adds: “Beth is always at the helm. She is very calm and diligent, making sure each player has what they need. She provides a safe, first- class environment. She creates strategic lineups, knowing some children can wait their turn, or not. She watches, adjusts, and makes the team successful both playing and having fun.”

Congratulations, Beth Cody. You are our hands-down, heartfelt, Unsung Hero this week. And every other week too!

EXTRA INNINGS: Beth’s 31-year-old son Nicholas and 26-year-old son Jack played baseball in Westport from pre-school to high school. She has loved the sport since her first Yankee games as a 5-year-old, cheering for Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Before moving to Westport 30 years ago, she lived in Manhattan and was vice president/associate media director at an advertising agency. She and her husband Paul have been married for 33 years.

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 …


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.


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.


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)


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)


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


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

(Photo/Molly Alger)


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)