We’ve made it to the Final Four in the “Greatest Athlete in Connecticut History Tournament,” and the excitement in the Nutmeg state is palpable.
Everywhere you go here, people aren’t buzzing about this tournament, but that’s because they’re are so enthralled with the entire thing that they’re trying not to jinx its exciting greatness, like position players in the dugout while their pitcher is throwing a no-hitter.
FINAL FOUR VOTING ENDS MONDAY, 8/24 AT 3 P.M.
11. Jimmy Piersall
First Round: Def. 6 Mo Vaughn (55%-45%)
Second Round: Def. 3 Jonathan Quick (79%-21%)
Sweet 16: Def. 10 Charles Nagy (86%-14%)
Elite Eight: Def. 5. Joey Logano (56%-43%)
It’s only fitting that Waterbury’s greatest baseball player has reached the Final Four in this tournament, which has been as off-the-wall and nutty as some of his antics on the field. Piersall, who was once immortalized in the book and movie “Fear Strikes Out,” suffered from manic depression as a player. But that didn’t stop him from having a long, terrific career. Piersall won two Gold Gloves and was twice named an All-Star.
Can he beat Floyd?
It’s going to take a miracle.
In fact, the only reason Piersall has made it this far is that Syracuse fans deliberately voted for him to take out popular NASCAR driver Joey Logano. We’re not sure how much actual support Piersall has, but we’re going to find out here.
Take it easy on him, ‘Cuse fans.
2. Floyd Little
Denver Broncos running back: 1967-1975
First Round: Def. 15. Mike Gminski 61% to 39%
Second Round: Def. 10. John Williamson (84% to 16%).
Sweet 16: Def. 6 Bob Skoronski (61% to 39%).
Elite Eight: Def. 9. Ken Strong (98% to 2%).
Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little is the highest seed remaining in this tournament, and he’s gotten the most votes so far, as Syracuse fans have shown up in a big way to support perhaps the least-known of their legendary runningbacks. (The school also enrolled Jim Brown and Ernie Davis).
We don’t think it’s just Chris Velardi, either.
At 5-10, 195 pounds, the aptly-named Little had a big career in pro football. A star at Syracuse in the 1960s, the New Haven native and Denver Broncos running back led the AFL in rushing in 1969 and ’71. He was a two-time AFL All-Star and three-time AFC-NFC Pro Bowl selection. Little spent his entire career with the Broncos, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.