Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament: Willie Pep vs. Matt Harvey

Willie Pep, left, connects with a left to the head of Bobby Singleton. (AP Photo)

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for another SportzEdge ® Bracket-style, 64-team tournament! Feel the excitement!!!

Last year, we changed the course of modern human civilization with the Coolest NCAA Logo Tournament, which became a national phenomenon along the lines of a presidential election, Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY speech, or DeAndre Jordan changing his mind about where he wants to play basketball.

This year, we decided to take on a question scholars have been debating since the 1800’s, maybe.

Who is the greatest athlete in Connecticut history?

There are plenty of outstanding candidates, from Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, to four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rogers, to all-time great featherweight boxer Willie Pep.

The athletes we considered must have grown up in Connecticut, and we counted only their prowess on the playing field, so coaches, executives and contributors like Walter Camp were not considered.




1. Willie Pep



1st Round: Defeated 16. Porky Vieira 61.69% to 38.31%

Born Guglielmo Papaleo, the Middletown native was better known as Willie ‘Will o’ the Wisp’ Pep, one of the greatest boxers in history. He’s listed as the fifth-greatest of all-time by, and is commonly regarded as the best featherweight ever to step into the ring. Recently, he was ranked the No. 1 featherweight of the twentieth century by the Associated Press, and the No. 1 featherweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization in 2005.

He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

8. Matt Harvey

New York Mets pitcher

New London

1st Round: Defeated 9. Ned Hanlon 75% to 25%

Harvey-Mania is back in New York, as the former Fitch High School star has won nine games this season, pitching to a 3.16 ERA. The 26-year-old has struck out 116 batters in 125.1 innings and he also has hit a home run.

In 2013, Harvey had a chance to make a run at the Cy Young Award, but ended up missing the rest of that season, and the 2014 season, due to Tommy John. He was the 2013 All-Star starting pitcher. In 26 starts that season, the New London native was 9-5 with a 2.65 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.

VOTE ON OTHER SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS!!! provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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