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Inaugural Class Inducted into West Hartford Baseball Hall of Fame at Hot Stove Dinner

From left: Sean McCann, Matt Sinatro, Greg Sinatro, and Eric Mallinson. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

The inaugural West Hartford Baseball Hall of Fame and Hot Stove Dinner was held on Feb. 1, 2024.

Hot Stove discussion with Gary LaRoque and Matt Sinatro. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg


The West Hartford Town Hall auditorium was at full capacity to honor the five inductees for the first ever West Hartford Baseball Hall of Fame class. Those honorees were Gary LaRoque, Greg and Matt Sinatro, Joe Mancini, and the 1973 Post 96 American Legion team.

The night gave a glimpse of the deep-rooted baseball history in West Hartford as well as an appreciation to those that dedicate their time to the players in town to ensure that tradition carries on.

2024 Inductees

Gary LaRoque was a standout at Conard High School whowent on to play collegiate ball at the University of Hartford where he was an All-American shortstop. Gary was drafted in 1975 by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 14th round and spent three years in the Minor League. Shortly after Gary began his coaching, scouting, and management career in baseball that has spanned 49 years making stops with the LA Dodgers, New York Mets, and the St. Louis Cardinals, where he is currently today as their top advisor for player development.

Sean McCann, Gary LaRoque, and Eric Mallinson. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Greg Sinatro began his journey in high school at LaSalle Academy in NY and from there went to the University of Connecticut earning freshman All-American honors. Greg moved onto Miami Dade College where he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in first round of the 1972 MLB draft. Greg went on from the play in the minors from 1972-1977.

Matt Sinatro was a Conard High School class of 1978 standout and got drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 1978 MLB draft. Matt’s 10-season career in the MLB had him in Atlanta, Oakland, Detroit, and Seattle. After being released by Seattle, Matt became their advance scout then later joining manager Lou Pinella’s staff and stayed with Pinella with the Mariners, Devil Rays, and Cubs. In 2012 Matt’s last stop was the Houston Astros as the catching coordinator.

Joseph Mancini was the varsity baseball coach at Conard High School from 1979 to 2005 winning a school record 260 games and bringing four league titles. In that time, he had two players, Ron Morander and David Crossley, that went on to play Major League baseball. Joe also coached in the CT Collegiate Baseball League, Avon Jr and Sr Babe Ruth League, and Avon Town and Little League baseball. Joe was an Outstanding College Athlete of America in 1973, captained the CCSU soccer team in 1970 and 1972 and you can find him at Conard baseball games each spring and at Post 96 American Legion games in the summer.

1973 Post 96 State Championship Team. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

The 1973 Post 96 American Legion Team led by Coach Bob O’Brien and Manager Joe Cote had a 39-10-2 record overall winning the Zone 1 title and went on to win the CT State Championship. The journey continued onto New England Regionals which they won earning their bid to go to the American Legion World Series in Idaho where the campaign came up a little short. Players include David Cunningham, Jimmy George, Bob O’Brien, Bobby Quinn, Bob Szymanski, Steve Chotiner, Stu Conn, Bob Claflin, Dave Ross, Len Burke, Tim Bourret, Brian Hickey, David Francis, Mark Fisher, Tom Redden, Tom Prior, Asst. Coach Lew Naughton, and bat boys Lenny Markese and Danny Moylan.

New Hall Head Coach Nick Sanford (left) and Rick Sanford. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

The night began with Rick Sanford, WHABA founder, addressing and welcoming everyone and in Hot Stove fashion brought up Post 96 19U Coach Sean McCann and 15U Coach Rob Hanawalt to present them with a WHABA award and had them share about them winning the CT State Titles respectively. Following that we had first year Hall head coach Nick Sanford and Conard head coach Brendan Smith come on stage to discuss their thoughts on the upcoming season.

Two guests who were invited to come speak were University of Hartford Head Coach Steve Malinowski and University of Saint Joseph Head Coach Adam Goss. USJ will have its first baseball season ever and have built a beautiful field on campus. Both coaches spoke about their upcoming seasons, the challenges ahead and gave our young players in attendance some sound advice in regards to the recruiting process.

From left: Sean McCann, Danielle Weiss, and Rick Sanford. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Rick Sanford then presented the West Hartford Amateur Baseball Association (WHABA) awards starting with the Francalangia Family getting the Life Time Contributor award for their tremendous support of all West Hartford baseball over the years. Recognition also went to two of WHABA’s hardest working volunteers, Danielle Weiss and John LaSpada, who are always supporting West Hartford baseball 12 months a year.

From left: Sean McCann, John LaSpada, and Rick Sanford. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Eric Mallinson, president of WHABA who presented the Hall of Fame inductions, was proud to announce that evening raised $1,000 for the West Hartford Food Pantry.

From left: Eric Mallinson, Joseph Mancini, and Sean McCann. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Sean McCann (left) and Gary LaRoque. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Balcony view of the event. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

Event trophies. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

From left: Sean McCann, Gary LaRoque, and Eric Mallinson. Photo credit: Craig Rosenberg

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