Blogs > New Haven 200 at 200

The New Haven Register sports department is celebrating our 200th birthday by sharing 200 of the most interesting stories relating to sports in Greater New Haven over the past 200 years. Check back daily for historical updates.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Derby's John Pagliaro takes his place as one of Yale's all-time great runners

Trying to bring down Derby’s John Pagliaro might have been a little like attempting to tackle a wind mill. His unforgettable running style resembled that of a drum major gone amok, churning knees seemingly scraping his chin strap.

It was a nightmare for high school linebackers, awoken, perhaps, in a cold sweat, by visions of Pagliaro charging full speed and knee-first. College defenders were equally strained. Just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, Pagliaro’s high leg action made him nearly impossible to tackle below the waist.
“If you tried to arm tackle him, you got a face full of cleats,” Yale coach Carm Cozza wrote in his autobiography. “And with his wild hair, thick black mustache, grease paint under his eyes, he was a fearsome sight to opponents.”

Cozza noted that Pagliaro’s decision to stay close to home and play at Yale rekindled local interest in the team, especially in the Naugatuck River Valley. For “Pags” wasn’t just a member of the team or a run-of-the-mill starter. He was a superstar.
Read Chip Malafronte's complete story

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Columbus Auto Body amateur sports teams become big-ticket attraction in city

In the days before cable television, the Internet and Xbox, amateur sports were a major source of entertainment. And in New Haven, in the years after World War II into the 1970s, the Columbus Bears were a big ticket attraction. Today, it’s hard to imagine thousands packing in to a neighborhood field for a softball game. But it was commonplace back in the day.

John DiLauro, second-generation owner of Columbus Auto Body, began sponsoring fast-pitch softball teams in 1948. The Columbus empire soon expanded to basketball, baseball and bowling. He did it for no other reason than a basic love for local sports. Joe Ciaburri hooked on as manager and coach, recruiting top athletes in the area. Columbus was the team to beat in a thriving, local sports scene. Fans began flocking to watch it compete.
“Everyone wanted to play the Bears,” said Ciaburri, 82, a prominent local banker who once served on President Ronald Reagan’s economic advisory board. “But no one could come close to beating us.”

Vin DiLauro, present owner of Columbus Auto, keeps the tradition begun by his father alive today, most notably with an entry in the West Haven Twilight League. It’s his passion. Still, nothing compares to the glory days os Columbus sports.
Read Chip Malafronte's complete story

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Bubby Natowich was Ansonia's first football star

In an era when high school football looked more like rugby, and the odds of a game ending in a scoreless tie were better than average, Andrew “Bubby” Natowich was decades ahead of his time.

Natowich, Ansonia’s first football superstar, was considered a radical because he carried the ball with one hand — coaches of the day preached using both to protect the football from swarms of tacklers.

Few utilized the forward pass, defensive schemes centering around loading the line of scrimmage to stop the run. But tackling Natowich, speedy and elusive at 170 pounds, proved to be darn near impossible. He racked up yardage and touchdowns at a pace that, even for today’s high-octane offenses, are almost unheard of. His 451 yards rushing against Naugatuck on Thanksgiving Day in 1936 was a state record that stood for 66 years until Farmington’s Brandon Willard went for 508 in 2002. Alex Thomas brought the record back to Ansonia five years later with a 518-yard day against Woodland.

Natowich, only a junior, scored a state-record seven touchdowns (which stood until 1999) that afternoon in a 79-0 victory he’d been thinking about for eight years.

Read Chip Malafronte's complete story

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