The Norwalk Old Timers began as the brainchild of Joe Andrews, Norwalk recreation director; Williard R. Williams, long-time sports editor of The Norwalk Hour; and Tom Skidd, a local accountant and former sports star at Manhattan College in New York City. The three contacted Norwalk sportsmen who were eager to follow in the footsteps of both Westport and Stamford, each of which had earlier organized Old Timers groups for the purpose of honoring sports stars in each of their own towns.
The first organizational meeting was held in the West Avenue School on Monday, April 15, 1963. More than 25 local sports enthusiasts attended and promptly elected Skidd president, Mike Errico vice president, John D’Amato secretary, and Andy Richards treasurer. In Skidd’s
absence, Errico named a steering committee to make plans for the permanent organization of the Norwalk Old Timers and the dye was cast.
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ABOUT NORWALK OLD TIMERS
During the next two months, the group feverishly worked toward its goal of its first Awards Dinner in late June. Meetings began almost immediately with a gathering on April 18th between Skidd, Andrews, Errico, and D’Amato to outline objectives and make plans for the future of the organization. Several more meetings followed, including one on May 5th, when Shorehaven was selected for the first dinner and the date was set for June 24, 1963.
The process of selecting the first honorees began in earnest. The final selections
for the first Norwalk Old Timers Awards Dinner were announced on June 10th in The Norwalk Hour. They were: John J. McGarrie, who managed the world’s championship Crofut and Knapp girls’ basketball team; Jack McGrath, one of Norwalk’s best pitchers since the 1920s, and Art Olsen, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the American League under manager Ty Cobb.
There probably never was another dinner as star-studded as the first, with Skidd calling in friends from all walks of life including, among others, actors Eddie Bracken and Horace McMahon; Al Schacht, baseball comic; Win Elliot, sports announcer; Bill Lauder, New York sports writer; Ron Hunt, Tracey Stallard, and Ernie White, of the N.Y. Mets and a TV comic, generously named General Garabaldi. In all, a crowd of over 300 sportsmen attended the first dinner.
Among those who served on the original Steering Committee, in addition to the officers, were John Miller, Jack Sutton, Jack Connolly, Tom Ireland, Ernie Imri, Bill Meehan, Don Shufelt, Ed Bonello, Ben Whone, Herb Herring, and Lou D’Orso.
A new Norwalk sports tradition was born that year, which continues to this day, when the Norwalk Old Timers Athletic Association celebrates its annual Awards Dinner to honor Norwalk athletes and distribute scholarships to students in our two high schools.
The Norwalk Old Timers Athletic Association also honors “Young Timers” with six high school scholarships annually.
The 2018-19 school year marked the 29th year of the Eugene “Ike” and Alberta Kern Scholarship Award, which is named after the late legendary Norwalk High School football coach and his wife, and is presented annually to an NHS senior football player. The 2018 recipient was Jaki Elliott.
Since 1993, the Old Timers have presented the Williard R. Williams Scholarship Award in memory of the longtime Norwalk Hour sports editor who covered local sports for more than half a century. The scholarship recognizes an outstanding male student-athlete at Norwalk and Brien McMahon high schools. This year's recipients were Gianluca Trova of NHS and Thaddeus Burrus of McMahon.
The Thomas C. O’Connor Scholarship Award was created in 2001 and recognizes an outstanding female student-athlete at each high school. O’Connor, the former mayor of Norwalk, was a big fan of girls sports and this scholarship was started shortly after his passing. The 2019 recipients were Savannah Bromley of Brien McMahon and Lauren Deering of Norwalk High.
The Norwalk Old Timers also created a new scholarship in 2011 in memory of Jack Casagrande, the former coaching legend at Brien McMahon who passed away in December 2010. It recognizes an outstanding senior football player for the Senators, and the 2019 recipient was Jonathan Davila.
All six high school scholarship winners were awarded $1,000 each.
In addition, the Old Timers award scholarships to players in youth sports programs in town. Now in its 18th year, the ‘Chick’ Ciccarelli Memorial Scholarship is named after our longtime Executive Board member who passed away in 2001. Ciccarelli was instrumental in starting Norwalk’s first Little League in 1951 and in his memory the scholarship makes it possible for a youngster to attend the Norwalk Board of Education Baseball Camp every summer.
Then in 2009, the Bob and Tom Corbo Scholarship was established to honor two more longtime Executive Board members who coached in the Norwalk Biddy Basketball League for many years. Their scholarship enables someone from the local Biddy League to attend the Norwalk Board of Ed Basketball Camp in the summer.
“Ike” Kern, Williard Williams, Tommy O’Connor, and Jack Casagrande are all past Old Timers honorees, as are ‘Chick’ Ciccarelli and Bob and Tom Corbo.