September 10: Boxing Sensation Willie Pep K.O.s the Competition

  Today in 1942, Connecticut boxer Willie Pep began his meteoric rise to stardom when he when he knocked out featherweight Frankie Franceroni of New Jersey just two minutes into the first round, shocking a crowd of thousands at Madison Square Garden.  Just two months and five more wins later, the twenty-year-old Pep became the…

September 7: ESPN Goes Live from Bristol

  On this day in 1979, at 7:00pm Eastern time, the first cable channel devoted exclusively to sports and entertainment went live from its studio in Bristol, Connecticut. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) was the dream of Bill Rasmussen, a former communications director for the New England (later Hartford) Whalers, who spent the better…

August 31: Glenna Collett Vare Wins Record 6th Golf Championship

  On August 31, 1935, thousands watched New Haven-born golf sensation Glenna Collett Vare win a record-breaking 6th U.S. Women’s Golf Championship at the Interlachen Country Club in Hopkins, Minnesota. Born in New Haven in 1903, Glenda Collett Vare was an active youngster, excelling at a variety of sports including swimming, diving, and golf.  She…

August 30: The UConn Huskies’ First Football Game at Rentschler Field

  On this day in 2003, the UConn Huskies football team kicked off a new era in Connecticut college sports as they played their first-ever game in a brand-new, 92 million, 40,000-seat stadium stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.  The new stadium was the result of a decade-long search for a suitable new home for…

August 6: Dale Earnhardt Smokes the Competition in Stafford

  For a small state sandwiched between two of America’s largest cities, Connecticut has enjoyed its fair share of exposure to professional sports.  While Connecticut is best known for its association with professional hockey and baseball teams and for the many Olympic athletes who grew up in its suburbs, the state has also played host…

August 1: “Base Ball” in 19th Century Hartford

The Charter Oak Base Ball Club, founded in the summer of 1862, was the first baseball team to be formed in Hartford.  Their stated mission was to “establish on a scientific basis the health-giving and scientific game of Base Ball, and to promote good fellowship among its players.”  In the age of before national professional…

July 17: The First Annual Nutmeg Games

  As the largest amateur multi-sport event in Connecticut, the Nutmeg State Games have promoted camaraderie, healthy competition, and the Olympic spirit among student athletes for over thirty years.  On July 17, 1986, the first Nutmeg State Games took place as 300 amateur athletes gathered in Canton, Connecticut to compete against each other in a…

May 6: The Hartford Whalers Leave CT to become the Carolina Hurricanes

  May 6, 1997 marks a day that will live in infamy in the eyes of Connecticut sports fans.  On that day, Peter Karmanos, owner of the Hartford Whalers, announced that he was moving the NHL team to North Carolina and renaming them the Carolina Hurricanes.  Connecticut has lacked a major professional sports franchise ever…

April 30: The New England Patriots Back Out of Hartford Stadium Deal

  In 1998, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots pro football team, was seeking a new home for his franchise, which had outgrown their small and outdated stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. After failing to secure stadium deals in South Boston and then Rhode Island, Kraft set his sights on Connecticut. His quest for…

April 18: A Deadly Boxing Match in Waterbury

  Even though it had been a documented pastime for millennia, amateur (or “Olympic-style”) boxing experienced a popular renaissance in the United States during the turn of the twentieth century, thanks to celebrity heavyweights like John L. Sullivan and the inclusion of the sport in the 1904 Olympic games.  During the early twentieth century, amateur…

April 6: UConn First School to win Dual NCAA Basketball Championships

  On April 6, 2004, University of Connecticut fans across the state and across the country cheered as the UConn women’s basketball team, led by coach Geno Auriemma , won its 5th NCAA championship, which was the team’s third national championship in a row.  The women beat their longstanding rival, Tennessee, 70 – 61 in…