FIRST INDUCTEES INTO THE NEW BARTLETT HIGH SCHOOL HALL OF FAME -- SATURDAY, OCT. 12, 2002

The 2002 inductees are individuals who achieved excellence in athletics while attending Bartlett.

Dick Avery is said to be the greatest pitcher to ever wear a Bartlett High School baseball uniform.

He compiled a 19-2 record during his varsity career, which included averaging 16 strikeouts per outing.

The right-handed fireballer signed with the New York Giants after his graduation form Bartlett in 1954. He played for the Giants in their minor league system.

Dick was a three -sport star for the Indians. He also played and starred on Bartlett basketball and football teams. He was an 'A' student in the classroom. In addition, he was the recipient of the Exchange club's Most Valuable Baseball Player award.

While he inked a Giants contract, he originally was expected to sign a White Sox pact, according to a 1955 published account. It seems a White Sox scout turned up to watch the Bartlett ace go against David Prouty High of Spencer during Dick's senior year in 1954. Watching the pre-game warm-ups, the "bird dog" pronounced the 5-9, 170-pound youngster too small for major league baseball.

However, the scout stayed for the game's first two innings, during which Dick walked four batters, perhaps the only real wild streak of his entire scholastic career.

The scout left to file a negative report, but Dick regained his poise and went on the hurl a 21- strikeout, no-hit, no-run game. Shortly afterward, he signed the Giants contract.

He played in the Class D Appalachian League for the Wytheville Statesmen in West Virginia.

His baseball career came to an abrupt end when he died at age 20 in an automobile accident in late 1955.

A sister, Louise Remy, lives in Webster.

Eddie Bastolla is among Bartlett High School's early three-sport stars.

The Class of 1929 graduate stood out on the football gridiron, basketball court and baseball diamond.

He served as football team captain in 1928, playing three years for the Indians. Former coach and Athletic Director George Finnegan named him as a member of the all-time football team for his backfield play. He also was a recipient of the H.C. Branch Award for football. Eddie played basketball for three years. He was a guard on the 1929 team that Finnegan said was the best he ever coached.

It was baseball, however, where he excelled even more than on the court or gridiron. Eddie played three years at Bartlett, and was named by Finnegan to the all-time, first team as the squad's third baseman.

He was a member of the Bartlett High School Athletic Council in his senior year.

His high school baseball career led to a scholarship at the University of Rhode Island, where he was a baseball team captain.

After graduating from URI, he had a tryout with a major league baseball team, and later was a part-time baseball scout for the Minnesota Twins in the 1950s and 1960s. During those years, Eddie helped conduct baseball tryouts in Connecticut for the Twins.

He went on to teach and coach baseball and basketball at Stafford High School in Stafford Springs, CT.

The late Eddie and Sophie Bastolla had two daughters, Beverly Hatch and Jane Haum, who both live in Florida.

Tim Bazinet has the distinction of being the first Bartlett boys basketball player to score 1,00 points for his career.

In his senior year, the Indians compiled a 9-1 Border Conference record, with an overall record of 15-3. It was reported that the team faired very well, despite unfavorable predictions. Highlights of that 1976-77 season included Tim reaching the 1,000-point plateau and a trip to the Clark Tournament. Tim was a team co-captain that season.

After his graduation from Bartlett in 1977, Tim went on to a full basketball scholarship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He graduated form the Worcester college as an engineer, and has been in California ever since.

His brother Gregory remembers how proud his mom and dad, Grace and Edmund Bazinet were of Tim's accomplishment. As a matter of fact, the family sent Tim the "game ball" just a few years ago for Tim's sons to admire.

Leo Biron is perhaps the best quarterback in Bartlett High School football history.

Under his leadership, the Indians compiled a 19-8 record during the 1958,1959 and 1960 seasons. His passing and running performances led Bartlett to many victories.

Leo, also known as "Chico", played varsity basketball for two years, and was a member of the track & field team for one year. Bartlett made appearance in the Clark and Assumption tournaments when Chico was on the basketball roster.

Recognition for this talent and leadership included Bartlett being named Class B Champions in 1960; Leo's receipt of the Alumni MVP Football Award; a full football scholarship to UMass-Amherst; and receipt of the Weiss football Player of the Area award.

After his Bartlett graduation in 1961, Leo continued his gridiron exploits at UMass. Highlights of those years include his receiving the game ball after the UMass 34-16 win over Boston University in 1965; playing in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, FL vs. East Carolina in 1964; and receiving the Paul Evans Outstanding Player Award in 1965.

After graduating from college, he spent the next 34 years in secondary school education, as an administrator, teacher and coach. Twenty-seven of those years were spent at Shepherd Hill Regional High School, where Biron-coached football teams were highly competitive, winning championships and playing in post-season bowl games.

Chico retired from SHRHS in 2001. He now works part time in construction. He and his wife have three daughters, Michelle Bedard, 36; Melissa Manzi, 34; and Leslie Pietz, 33; and one son, Lee Biron, 35.

Sam Cowicz is remembered at Bartlett High as an outstanding athlete in every varsity sport he played.

Part of a paragraph in his 1941 yearbook perhaps best sums up Sam's talents: "...his swiftness on the basketball court, his timely hitting on the baseball diamond, and his outstanding blocks and tackles on the football field will never be forgotten."

Sam played varsity baseball for four years, serving as captain on the 1941 undefeated team, and batted over .400. He played varsity basketball for two years and football for one year. He was named centerfielder on Coach George Finnegan's all-time team, a list compiled after Finnegan's 40 years of coaching.

After graduating from Bartlett in 1941, Sam received an athletic scholarship to Worcester Academy, where he played baseball and basketball.

Later, he graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he also played baseball and basketball.

Sam reportedly was asked to play in the Boston Braves farm system, but entered the U.S. Navy as an ensign, serving in World War II. He was also a third mate in the Maritime Service.

Sam Cowicz, who died in April 2002, and his wife Mary have two sons, Jeff, 55 and John, 39.

George Finnegan is the architect who laid the foundation for Bartlett High School athletics, as well as academic achievement for many students.

From Sept. 1922 until June 1945, George taught chemistry and coached football, basketball and baseball at Bartlett. During that 23-year span, his teams won 612 games, losing 267, with nine ties. His football teams were 115-67-9; baseball teams had a record of 235-98; and his basketball teams were 262-102.

When he concluded his coaching careers in 1945, George remained as Athletic Director until his retirement in 1963.

George is credited with being the most major influence in establishing Bartlett athletic programs as one of the most competitive in Central Massachusetts.

Following his death in the early 1980's, an athletic scholarship was established in his name. It is given annually to a Bartlett student-athlete at graduation.

George graduated from Tufts University in 1922 where he captained the hockey team, and played on football and baseball teams.

In his senior year at Tufts, major league baseball scouts followed George's performances. He was given an opportunity to "train" with the St. Louis Browns (Baltimore Orioles).

But George wasn't interested in the pay-for-play games, for he had his sights on a teacher-coach career. He did play with professional teams outside of the major leagues, which eventually brought him to Webster. He became aware of a teacher-coach opening at Bartlett. The rest is history.

His coaching records are without parallel. He gave years of service to organizations dedicated to promoting a better America.

All of the students and athletes benefited in some form, shape or manner due to their association with a teacher among teachers, coach among coaches and, above all, a man amongst men.

The late George Finnegan's wife is Gertrude. There are two daughters, Eleanor, 73 and Peggy, 66 and one son, Ronald, 68.

Ted Geotis is considered to be among the top quarterbacks in Bartlett High School football history.

In his junior and senior years, Ted passed for more than 2,000 yards, and 20 touchdowns and rushed for six touchdowns. He served as team captain in his senior year in 1969, and was named the Indians' Most Valuable Player for his exploits that season.

The Indians record during Ted's three-year career at Bartlett was 20-7. He received three varsity letters during his gridiron tenure.

He was named quarterback of the 1969 Class B all-star team, and received honorable mention as a quarterback on the 1968 Class B team. Also, in 1969, Ted was honored with the Joe Bennett Most Valuable Player Award for his performance in the St. Bernard's game.

After graduating from Bartlett in 1970, he quarterbacked the Marianapolis Prep squad to a 7-0 record in the fall of that year. Ted continued his playing career with the semi-pro Webster Colonials from 1972-75. He was named to the league all-star team as a quarterback in 1975. He also had a tryout with the NFL New York Jets.

He is currently employed by the Town of Webster as a custodian at Bartlett High School.

Ed Grzembski is among Bartlett High School's all time two-sport standouts for his superb performances on both the basketball court and the baseball diamond.

Ed has the distinction of being the Indians' all time leading scorer. The shooting guard scored 1,548 points during his four-year career at Bartlett.

In baseball, the slick fielding shortstop hit near the .500 mark for four years.

The 1987 Bartlett graduate received many accolades for those achievements. He was named to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette all-star teams in both sports in his junior and senior years. Ed's other awards included: Border Conference all-star teams in both sports for all four scholastic years; numerous MVP awards in both sports; and many times was listed as the Webster Times Player of the Week.

Ed received a full basketball scholarship to Stonehill College, where he played for four years after his graduation from Bartlett.

While playing for the Chieftains during the 1989,1990, and 1991 seasons, he was named Northeast 10 Conference player of the week, and was a member of the Northeast 10 All-Conference teams.

In 1990, he received an ECAC Player of the Week award. In 1989 he received a Kodak award, and upon graduation from Stonehill College in 1991, he received the prestigious Fr. William Gartland Memorial Sportmanship Award.

As of 2002, Ed still held the most 3-point field goals in a season, hitting 100 from long range for the Chieftains. He is listed as number 8 on the Stonehill College all-time scoring list.

Ed and Joanne Grzembski live in Webster. He works for Atlas Box and Crating, while Joanne is Nichols College Women's Basketball Coach. They have two children, Anthony, 4, and Allison, 1.

John Guerin's accomplishments as a member of the Bartlett High track and field team brought much notoriety individually, as well as for his school.

During his four years as a member of the Indians track and field team, John became the state high jump champion. His Bartlett High School individual record in the high jump is 6-feet, 8-inches.

The athlete's leadership skills were very evident during his high school sports career. In his senior year, John captained all three sports played.

John was a member of the track and field team for all four years while at Bartlett High School. He was the team captain in 1984.

Also during those four years, John ran cross country for the Indians. He was team captain in 1984.

As a member of the basketball team, he played on squads that reached both the Clark Tournament and Central Massachusetts District finals. John was team captain in 1984.

John and his wife Elizabeth live in Worcester. He is the paint department supervisor for Body Shop World. The couple have two children, Scott, 11 and Keith, 8.

Jim Mason's star-studded career at Bartlett high School is highlighted by his having the distinction of being the first recipient of the George H. Finnegan Athletic Award in 1964.

During his four years, Jim stood out in three sports. He played varsity football and baseball for three years, receiving letters all three years, and was captain of the 1964 baseball team. He played varsity basketball for two years, receiving letter both years.

The 1964 baseball team won the Central Mass Class B Championship, due primarily to Jim's talent and leadership.

Among his sports highlights are batting .404 in his junior year, and scoring two running touchdowns in 1962 against Southbridge in the Thanksgiving Day game.

After graduation from Bartlett in 1964, Jim entered the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1966-67, he served with the First Battalion, 26th Marine Fifth Division. He is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. After his discharge from the Marines, Jim enjoyed a 20-year career in the Webster Men's Softball League, playing first base for Coyle's House of Champions.

In 1968, he coached the Webster L'il Beavers Pop Warner National Championship Team, which played for the title in San Diego, California.

After many years as a masonry contractor, Jim is now employed by the Town of Webster as custodian at Bartlett High School.

He has a daughter Jennifer, 34 and a son Jonathon, 32.

Nicholas Mikolajczak is among Bartlett High's early three-sport standouts.

The 1935 BHS graduate competed with skill in football, basketball and baseball, lettering in the three sports in his junior and senior years. During that span, he was elected to the "Sportsmanship Brotherhood".

During his high school career, he became know as Mickey Nichols.

In his four-year football career, Nicholas played fullback and linebacker, and was a stellar punter. He once recorded an 80-yard punt. He often stood out in games whether it was on offense or defense.

One of his most memorable football games, as well as for the Bartlett High School Indians, came on Thanksgiving Day in his senior year. After being outplayed by undefeated Wells High of Southbridge in the first half, the Indians came out in the second half with a vengeance. Bartlett took the opening kickoff after intermission, driving 80 yards "that did not terminate until Mickey Nichols had crossed the goal line." Bartlett went on the spoil the Southbridge dream of an undefeated season.

In basketball, it has been noted that he was a fine leader, most capable center, and one of the best guards Bartlett had ever known.

In baseball, Nicholas played catcher, and was a solid hitter. He was a member of the Student Council at BHS and after graduation in 1935, he attended Nichols Junior College.

This standout Bartlett athlete leaves a daughter, Barbara Kruszewski, 52 and a son, David Mikolajczak, 41.

Karen Norton is arguably the most versatile and talented athlete ever to wear a Bartlett High School uniform.

A genuine three-sport star, Karen also utilized her intelligence and leadership to enhance soccer, basketball and softball programs. Actually MVP could be her middle name.

She played soccer for six years, starting in the seventh grade at the junior-senior high school. Karen was captain of the 1992 team, and she received varsity letters for all six years she played.

In basketball, Karen played four years, received four letter and was team captain during the 92-93 season.

She played and lettered all five years she was on the Indians' softball team, and captained the 1993 squad.

Karen received many honors and much recognition for her athletic prowess. She was soccer MVP in 1989 and 1992, basketball MVP in 1993 and unsung hero in 1989 and MVP in 1993 in softball.

In addition she made several Border Conference all-star teams in every sport during her career. She was named Tourtellotte Basketball Tournament MVP in 92-93 and received a Gregory J. Collins Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award in 1993.

After graduating from Bartlett in 1993, Karen became a two-sport star at the College of the Holy Cross.

She played soccer for four years for the Crusaders, serving as captain in 1996. That same year, she was named to the All-Patriot League first team, and was named the league's defensive player of the year.

She also played four years on the Crusaders softball team, serving as captain in 1997. She was named to the All-Patriot League first team in 1995.

Karen was the recipient of the Holy Cross Varsity Club Norton Award, and John P. Cooney Jr. Memorial Award for academic/athletic excellence in 1997.

In addition, this stellar scholar-athlete was named to the Patriot League academic/athletic honor roll ('93-'97) and the league's scholar-athlete of the year in 1996.

Karen Norton currently is a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center.

Richard A. Nowak is perhaps the most notable scholar-athlete to graduate from Bartlett High School.

Richard, or Dick as many know him, starred in two sports during his high school career, football and baseball. He played on Indian varsity teams for three years in both sports, earning three letters in baseball and three in football. In addition, in his senior year, Dick served as captain in both sports.

Recognition for his athletic prowess came after the football season in 1958 when the Bartlett High School Alumni Association presented him with the football most valuable player award. Later that school year, after the spring baseball season, Dick received the most valuable player award from the Exchange club. While the 1959 graduate stood out during his high school years, his achievements in college were most impressive.

Dick Nowak went on to more academic-athletic stardom at the United States Military Academy-West Point. He played guard and linebacker for Army. His achievements at West Point included being named All East in 1962 and 1963.

Also in 1963, Dick was named to the All American football team by the coaches association, the Associated Press, and United Press International. Since it was the era of the two-way college football player, he received that prestigious status for his performance at guard on offense and linebacker on defense.

The football standout played in the 1964 Hula Bowl with all-stars from throughout the nation.

While at Army, Dick received the Thomas West Hammond Award for being the outstanding football lineman in 1962 and 1963. He also received the Edgerton Award as the 1963 Army football captain.

Dick Nowak served his country in the Vietnam War.

He currently is president of the ELCOR Corp. in Texas.

Dick and his wife Marie have three sons, Jeffrey, 37; Matthew, 34; and Eric, 31.

Dr. Edward C. Starosta excelled in basketball and baseball during his years at Bartlett high School.

The Class of 1936 graduate played guard and forward on Bartlett basketball teams. Local newspapers praised him as one of the best schoolboy basketball players in Central Massachusetts. He was a unanimous selection for the first all-star team of the Southern Worcester County League.

Ed also excelled as a second and third baseman on Bartlett baseball teams, serving as captain his senior year.

Beside sports, he was an honor student, member of the student council and was senior class treasurer. After graduation, Ed continued his studies at Tufts University, where he played basketball, baseball and soccer. He received a medical degree in dentistry from Tuft, and eventually practiced dentistry in Webster for more than 50 years, retiring in 1995.

Dr. Starosta was a captain with the Army Dental Corps during the Korean War. He later was active in various community organizations, often taking leadership roles.

Those activities included the Democratic Town Committee, Quo Vadis Club, Exchange Club, Boys Club, PAV, Finance Committee, Webster Credit Union, American Legion, Elks, and others.

He also held memberships on the American Dental Society, the Pierre Fauchaud Academy of Dentists, and was a fellow in the International College of Dentists.

Dr. Starosta became chairman and secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Dental Examiners, and was elected to the American Board of Dental Examiners.

As a grandfather he served as a sports mentor for his six grandchildren.

His two daughters are Paula Chauvin and Marianne Galante.

John Stefanik is Bartlett High School's version of the Splendid Splinter.

The sweet-swinging left-handed batter hit .400 in 1941, his senior season when the Indians baseball team went undefeated.

John also played basketball and football at Bartlett. But his passion was, and still is, baseball.

After graduation in 1941, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps where he continued playing on baseball teams when not on duty. After serving his country, John attended what was then known as Nichols Junior College where he played baseball. He also played baseball in a college league in New Hampshire and Vermont.

But the highlight of his love affair with the National Pastime came when he had the opportunity to play professional baseball. John played four years in the minors, including seasons in the Colonial League, Carolina League, and Florida International League. On one of those stops, he played against Earl Weaver , who later would become manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

In the mid 1970s, John and Earl swapped stories and reminisced into the wee hours of the morning after a Boston Baseball Writers dinner in Boston. Weaver had been one of the speakers for the event, and John seized the chance to rekindle memories.

John is retired now, after he and his wife Barbara owned and operated Andy's Restaurant and Bar on East Main Street for several years.

John and Barbara have four sons and a daughter: Gregory, 48; Mark, 47; Jeffrey, 42; Christopher, 41; and Angela, 37.

Sigmond "Ziggy" Strzelecki is best remembered for the impact he had on Bartlett High School students and others, whether it is as a teacher, administrator and coach for 37 years.

Much has been written about him over the years, including his accomplishments as a basketball players. He is enshrined elsewhere, such as the Clark University Athletic Hall of Fame for his stellar Cougar basketball career; and the state Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, for his 292-78 record at Bartlett. Earlier this month, on Oct. 4, Ziggy was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame at the University of Rhode Island.

Ziggy came to Webster in 1945 after turning down an offer to play with the newly formed Boston Celtics. He coached Bartlett baseball from 1952 to 1974. Four of those teams lost only one game, and 10 others lost just two, The 1973 team reached the state Small Schools finals and the 1964 and 1972 teams played in state semifinal rounds. Collectively, his teams compiled a .790 winning percentage.

Ziggy also taught discipline, fair play, humility and sportsmanship. The policies, traditions and philosophies paved the road for the fine reputation Bartlett High School has had for decades.

Trademarks many will remember - the cigar, Bartlett baseball cap, the dark eyebrows and silver hair. His elongated "un-believe-able," and "I'd rather be lucky than good," still are embedded in many minds.

The friendships, the kindness, the almost supernatural magnetism that brought people to him are also remembered.

Former Red Sox baseball announcer Ken Coleman wrote a poem about this legendary, gifted man. A line near the poem's end reads: "And also one of the best men that God has ever made."

The late Sigmond Strzelecki's wife is Dorothy, who lives in Dudley. A daughter Joan lives in Toronto, and son Paul lives in Webster. A son John died two years ago.

Robert "Tug" Wilga is considered by many to be the best football lineman in Bartlett High School history.

Tug played tackle for the Indians for all four years of his high school career, serving as team captain in his senior year. While he was a stalwart on local high school gridirons, Tug achieved most of his fame playing Division 1 college football.

After graduating with the Bartlett High Class of 1950, Tug entered the University of Alabama on a football scholarship, where he majored in physical education.

A tackle while at BHS, Tug played that position for the 'Bama freshmen. In his sophomore year he switched to defensive guard where he stood out in game after game. It has been noted that he was particularly effective on Crimson Tide goal line stands, and was a leading tackler for Alabama during his career.

Tug was in the starting defensive lineup when Alabama played in the January 1, 1953 Orange Bowl in Miami and the January 1, 1954 Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

The ROTC student entered the U>S> Army in 1954. He was stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia, with the 15th Infantry Regiment football team. He played tackle for the Bearcats, and was also a co-captain and line coach. In 1954, he made the Army all-conference team and all-post team.

This Bartlett football star leaves a son, Robert Wilga Jr., 35 and a daughter, Robin Wilga, 30.

The accomplishment of the 1978-79 Bartlett High School Boys basketball team, which defeated powerhouse Cathedral High of Boston 85-73 to win the State Division III Championship, is forever etched in the annals of Bartlett athletics, since it marked the first and only state title in the school's history.

Their outstanding effort brought a sense of pride and unity to the school and the entire community.

Bartlett finished its best year with a 21-5 record, including the Clark University Small School crown, a District III title and the State Championship.

BHS honors those team members for their outstanding achievement. Team members are: Brad Smith, Jamie Hetherman, Jim Piette, Brian Scariglia, Charles Nikopoulas, Jack Daveau, Lester Magnant, Mark Begreen, James Poblocki, Ted Przybylek, Robert Knych and Greg Fiddes. The coach of the 1979 championship team is Bob Paranto.

 

The Selection Committee includes John Katori, Chairman, Don Cushing, Vice Chairman, Paul Brown, Secretary, Rene Langevin, Co-Treasurer, John Mrazik, Co-Treasurer, Philip Charbonneau, Joanne Grzembski, Colleen Nasis, Chris McKay and Ray Sullivan.

 

By Paul K. Brown, Webster Times
Reprinted with permission of Webster Times.

 


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