As part of a new series recognizing the greatest athletes in Connecticut history, SportzEdge.com is taking a comprehensive look at each town in the state and trying to decide whose athletic brilliance shone brightest.
Last week, we took a look at the Greatest Athlete in the history of Waterbury.
Today, we are looking at the greatest athletes in Stamford history. Hall of Fame defensive end Andy Robustelli tops our list. His name still resonates at the University of Bridgeport and with the New York Giants, where he won an NFL championship in 1956.
1. Andy Robustelli, NFL.
A graduate of tiny Arnold College in Milford (now part of the University of Bridgeport), the Stamford native spent 13 years in the NFL with the L.A. Rams and New York Giants. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and even won the Bert Bell Award as the NFL’s Player of the Year in 1962. Robustelli won championships with the Rams (1951) and Giants (’56) and was inducted into the Pro Football of Fame in 1971. He was honored with the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award in 1988 for his contribution to the community.
2. Chris Dudley, NBA.
The Yale graduate and diabetes survivor played 16 years in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks. The 7-footer served as Patrick Ewing’s backup and played big minutes in the 1999 NBA Finals. Dudley is memorable for his charitable efforts off of the court, using his self-named foundation to raise money to help kids living with diabetes. He’s also notable for being an incredibly bad free throw shooter, finishing six whole seasons shooting less than 40 percent from the stripe.
3. Bobby Valentine, MLB.
The mercurial manager was once a star-crossed shortstop with the L.A. Dodgers, hitting .260 over nine injury-plagued years in the major leagues from 1969-79. The Stamford native and Rippowam High School graduate managed the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000, and led Japan’s Chiba Lotte Marines to a championship in 2005. After a failed stint with the Red Sox last season, Valentine is back in Connecticut, working as the Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Big league pitcher Jared Hughes has spent the past three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 91 relief appearances. Hughes grew up in California, but he was born in Stamford. John Scalzi also played one season in the majors with the Boston Braves in 1931.