"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - - 4/14/12

Kathleen O'Brien, a senior at Shelton (CT) High School, has been named the recipient of the ninth annual "Bo" Kolinsky Memorial Journalism Scholarship--awarded by the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance. She will receive the award/honor at the Alliance's 71st annual Gold Key Dinner--to be held on April 29th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. O'Brien--who plans to attend Marist College--ranks in the top 2% of her class and is captain of the Shelton High girls cross country/indoor track teams. The scholarship is named for the longtime scholastic sports editor of the Hartford Courant--who passed away in 2003. Tickets to this year's Gold Key Dinner can be obtained by emailing Alliance president George Albano at truckin114@aol.com or VP/dinner chairman Bob Ehalt at ehalt.b@sbcglobal.net..........TRIVIA QUESTION: The 1987 Cleveland Indians--who finished a pathetic 61-101 under managers Pat Corrales and Doc Edwards--DID have three players on the team who hit 30 or more home runs apiece that season. Can you name this trio? Answer to follow..........If yours truly ages HALF as well as lovely actress Sela Ward has, I may STILL be writing this sports column when I'm 85 years old..........This week in sports history, April 17, 1964: The Pittsburgh Pirates spoil the unveiling of the N.Y. Mets' new $25 million home--Shea Stadium--beating the hometown squad 4-3 with over 50,000 people in attendance. Construction workers were still painting outfield signs the morning of the game while fresh sod was being placed in the outfield during batting practice. Built on a 45-acre plot, Shea Stadium featured one of the largest scoreboards in major league baseball--one that measured 86 feet high and 175 feet wide..........Congratulations are in order once again for Aleca Hughes--captain of the Yale women's hockey team--who is the recipient of the 2011-'12 Sarah Devens Award. Given as a joint award between ECAC Hockey and Hockey East, the Devens Award (named for the former hockey/lacrosse player at Dartmouth who died in 1995) is presented to a student-athlete who "demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice." Aleca will receive her fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic honor this year and did NOT miss a game during her college career. She was also very instrumental in the formation of the Mandi Schwartz Foundation--named after a former teammate who passed away a year ago after battling cancer. Aleca's many honors/accomplishments have been mentioned in this column previously; she is to be highly commended for her countless humanitarian efforts that will continue to have a major impact LONG after this young woman leaves New Haven..........Anyone out there witness the first career at-bat by Tampa Bay player Stephen Vogt last week vs. the Yankees' stellar reliever David Robertson (who struck him out on three fastballs)? I haven't seen a mismatch like that since Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts hooked up back in the 90's..........There are THREE things in life that I am TOTALLY sure of at this juncture: 1) The sun will rise somewhere each day. 2) The sun will set somewhere each day. 3) Isiah Thomas CANNOT coach a basketball team--at ANY level..........Answer to trivia question: CORY SNYDER (33), JOE CARTER (32), and BROOK JACOBY (32)..........Happy birthday wishes go out to former MLB pitcher Steve Blass--who blows out 70 candles on April 18th. A Connecticut native, Blass spent 10 years with the Pirates from 1964-'74--compiling a record of 103-76 with a lifetime ERA of 3.63. After enjoying his best season in '72 (19-8/2.49), Blass inexplicably lost his control--walking and hitting batters at an alarming rate until he quit baseball for good in March of '75. Since 1983, he's been a very popular/successful broadcaster for the Pirates. As a kid, I had the opportunity to meet Blass/obtain his autograph at a church "sports night" in southern CT; I'll never forget his kind nature and happy demeanor toward a wide-eyed, admiring kid. Best wishes, Steve..........Finally, condolences go out to the family of former Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe Avezzano--who passed away last week of a heart attack in Italy at the age of 68. Avezzano was with Dallas from 1990-2002; few will forget the intense, silver-haired man who coached on three Super Bowl-winning teams ('93, '94, '96). He also coached in Oakland for two years under Norv Turner and was named the NFL's special teams coach of the year three times. Avezzano had moved overseas earlier this year to coach an Italian Football League team in Milan. May "Coach Joe" rest in peace.