Hall of Fame Inductees 2012
Brian Biskupiakcould make a fastball sing and put a break on his curve that would make even his cap’s seem marginal.“He was a competitor to the nth degree,” said former Plainville coach Rob Freimuth (Hall of Fame Class of 2006). “He had a bulldog mentality. He had three pitches he could throw for strikes and all you need at the high school level to be successful is two.“He was mature beyond his years and had a great concept how to get people out.” Biskupiak’s concentration and the intimidation factor he had on his success cannot be documented, but he posted a 15-2 lifetime mark for the Blue Devils, his junior year standing out as a lasting signature. He went 8-0 for the season, 3-0 in the Class L tournament without yielding a run. He pitched in 21 of the 28 innings in four tournament wins.In 65 innings, he struck out 79 batters. He also batted .328 and scored 25 runs.He earned All-State honors as a junior and a senior, when he posted a 6-2 mark for the team that lost in the ‘L’ final to South Windsor, 5-4, in extra innings. He hit .333, smacked a pair of home runs and collected 16 RBI.As a sophomore, he earned his first varsity win as a pitcher, but made a larger contribution at the plate, batting .361 with a homer and 16 RBI.
Biskupiak was also adept in the classroom, earning Plainville High’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 1993. He secured a scholarship to the University of Hartford (Class of 1997), where he started in left field and earned the reputation as being one of the Hawks’ most durable players. He was third on the team in hitting (.379) his senior year and made second-team all-conference.He played with fellow Plainville Sports Hall of Famers Brian Edge and Earl Snyder on those Hartford squads. His player profile prior to his senior year billed him as a “smart runner and natural leader.” He was named an America East scholar-athlete after his senior season, and graduated magna cum laude with a major in economics and finance.
Jeffrey Palmer guided the Plainville High football team to two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes, 17 seconds to defeat Southington, 18-14, on Saturday, Nov. 27, 1971, clinching the Blue Devils’ first win over its neighboring nemesis for the first time in 23 years.Southington led 14-6 with 10:23 to go when Palmer steered the Devils 68 yards in 19 plays, a drive that consumed more than seven minutes. It culminated with Palmer pushing into the end zone from a yard out. Palmer connected with Vet Mason Jr. for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:16 left to set off a celebration. Palmer, called “the best quarterback in the state” by his coach Jim Lynch, went 10-for-20 for 124 yards, but his fourth-quarter numbers are more defining: 7-for-10, 113 yards. Jeff was a three-sport, four-year standout with the physical attributes and competitive presence second to none. He was a fiery team leader, exuding confidence and poise in the heat of competition.
Palmer, a three-year varsity starter, also played defensive back. He was quarterback of the Class B-C All-State Team in 1971. He completed 71 passes in 131 attempts for 1,216 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was chosen to play for the East team in the 1972 Nutmeg Bowl. He went on to attend Milford Academy, where his achievements led to his being inducted in the prep school’s hall of fame in June. He earned a scholarship to play at the University of Miami.He was a two-way choice for the 1971 All-Central Valley Conference and quarterback on the All-Hartford Suburban team. He was also a three-year varsity participant as a defensive-minded forward on the basketball team and a catcher for the baseball team, but that grey day in November will always stand as Palmer’s legacy.
The girls swimming records displayed at the Plainville High pool still bear a familiar name from the mid-1990s, familiar enough that she will be inducted into the Plainville Sports Hall of Fame on October 6th as a member of the 2012 class. That name is Mary Boiczyk. She qualified for the State Open to gain All-State honors all four years. She was also an All-State discus thrower as a senior and threw the javelin at an all-Northwest Conference level. She competed in the discus event in the New Englands. She was named captain in both sports.Boiczyk, swim team MVP in 1993 and 1994, set individual records in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly. Her talents contributed considerably to records in the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays. The 200-yard medley record still stands 20 years later. Her teams went 45-8.In track and field, Boiczyk was a four-year letter-winner and three time state qualifier. She qualified for the State Open and New Englands as a senior. She earned the Best in Field Award at the Greater Bristol Open in 1995. She set a school record throwing the discus.
In the classroom, she achieved All-Academic Northwest Conference recognition all four years. She was the Athletic Backers’ Outstanding Female Athlete her senior year.Her accomplishments led to achieving Plainville High’s highest honor – the William Cassidy Outstanding Athlete award – in 1995. She also won the Joseph Dehm Physical Education Award.She went on to Springfield College where she competed on the swim team all four years. She was a national qualifier and received All-America Honorable Mention in three of them. She established records in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly, and the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relays.
Never one to put athletics above academics, Boiczyk won the Springfield College Female Scholar-Athlete Award in 1999. After making the Dean’s List all four years, she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in physical education in 1999 and earned a Masters in special education at Southern Connecticut State University. She was the female athlete of the year for her first three years and scholar-athlete of the year as a senior. She was recognized by her professors at Springfield with the Frisbie-Weisbrod Award, emblematic of being among top senior students in physical education, athletic training, health fitness and sport management. As a junior, she was a United States Achievement Academy All-American scholar and professors bestowed the Eric Palmer Award – the most prestigious physical education student – upon her.She is currently a member of the physical education faculty at the United States Coast Guard Academy and is in her 13th year as the assistant swim coach for the women’s team.
The moment on a day in late spring was frozen in time. The year was 1994. The Plainville High baseball team was playing Holy Cross-Waterbury in the Class L championship. Earl Snyder caught a pitch on the sweet spot and sent a towering drive, the like rarely seen, that would become legendary for all who watched it soar. The ball disappeared into the woods well beyond the left field fence at Middletown’s Palmer Field, and it didn’t dribble in. It cut through branches halfway to the top of the majestic evergreens well beyond the fence. It came in the first inning, setting the tone for the Blue Devils’ 10-6 win. Snyder went on to glory at the University of Hartford (1996-98) and in a professional career that included big-league time with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.The Devils advanced to state title games for three seasons, winning crowns in 1992 and 1994. In 1993, he batted .361, whacked six homers and drove in 21 runs. As a senior, he hit .378 with five homers and 28 RBI.
Snyder went on to rewrite the University of Hartford record book. He remains first in home runs (53), RBI (173), hits (222), total bases (423) and runs (146). He was second in slugging and third all-time with a .374 batting average. He still shares season records for the most RBI (58 in ’96) and hits (66 in ’96) with Jeff Bagwell and has the highest season slugging percentage in school history (.822 in ’98).Snyder was chosen by the New York Mets in the 36th round of the 1998 amateur draft and assigned to Pittsfield of the Class A (Short-Season Rookie League) New York Penn League. He advanced to the full-season South Atlantic League with Capital City in 1999 (25 doubles, 28 HR, 97 RBI) and to the Mets’ Advanced Class A team in St. Lucie (Florida State League) in 2000 (36 doubles, 25 HR, 93 RBI). He was given the Nelson Doubleday Award emblematic of the team’s most valuable player in both 1999 and 2000. In 2001, he hit .281 with 20 homers and 35 doubles with Binghamton in the Eastern League. He was named EL Player of the Month for June by batting .367 with eight homers and 25 RBI. He played in the Double-A All-Star Game July 11 and hit a home run in the National League’s 8-3 win.By again winning the Doubleday Award, he became the first Mets minor leaguer to win the award for three consecutive seasons.Snyder was sent to the Cleveland Indians in 2001 and made his major league debut on April 28, 2002 and played in 18 games that season.He was selected off waivers by the Boston Red Sox in January 2003, and turned in two strong seasons for the Pawtucket Red Sox. He was named International League Player of the Week on May 3 and chosen as both a midseason and postseason all-star.Snyder earned a promotion to Boston and played in one game – Aug. 18. Earl finished his final campaign (2007) with the White Sox’ Triple-A club in Charlotte.
Jeff Sengle was blessed with an astounding blend of strength and speed to carve out a Hall-of-Fame worthy career as a baseball and football player at Plainville High.On the diamond, no leadoff hitter could possibly wreak more havoc with the opposition’s pitching and defense. His exquisite talents placed him in varsity competition right from the start, enabling him to set a record that can be tied but never broken. Sengle was among three Blue Devils to have played in four state championship games.On the gridiron, he establish a school record in all-purpose yardage (2,803) and to become the Blue Devils’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Johnny Gacek in 1957. Sengle’s legacy should lead off with baseball as he led off so proficiently during an era that validated Plainville High as the seat of one of the sport’s great scholastic dynasties. He scored 42 runs in 88 plate appearances. Early in his junior season when he truly emerged as a superstar, he went 2-for-2, was hit twice by pitches and scored three runs in a win over Naugatuck. He batted .333 with 17 stolen bases as a junior. As a senior co-captain, he hit .340 and stole 25 sacks.Plainville pounded Maloney, 15-3, in the 1995 Class L final, and Sengle played his role exquisitely, drawing three walks, stealing three bases and scoring three runs. The Devils may have not even reached that final if Sengle hadn’t blasted a two-run, eighth-inning homer to sink Jonathan Law, 5-3, and advance Plainville to a quarterfinal game with Watertown. He went on to hit .403 and steal 19 bases for the Plainville American Legion team that summer.
Sengle established himself as one of the school’s great running backs in the fall of his junior year. He scored three touchdowns in the opening day 27-20 win over Notre Dame-Fairfield. He ran for 100 yards on 11 carries in a win over Avon in which he raced for a 63-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. AgainstBullard-Havens Tech of Bridgeport, he scored four touchdowns, amassed 233 all-purpose yards and ran back the second-half kickoff for an 86-yard touchdown.He broke a Plainville season rushing record with 1,010 yards as a senior He ran for 131 yards to help secure a 19-8 victory despite having missed the previous two games. Sengle received an endorsement from a local scout about his potential as a professional baseball player, but went on to play football and baseball at Middlebury (Vt.) College.
Buchanan was a three-sport athlete for the Blue Devils from 1953-57, gaining attention in basketball, baseball and football, but he noted that statistics and team achievements pale in comparison to the lessons in life that team sports and great coaches teach. He selflessly passed what he learned on to the impressionable Plainville athletes who succeeded him. He was a starting guard on the basketball team as a sophomore in 1955. As a junior in 1955-56, he was selected the Most Valuable Player on a winning team that was building toward Plainville’s golden years – the state championships crafted by Riera in 1959 and 1961.Richie was proficient from the foul line. His teammates made note of his leadership capabilities and unanimously elected him captain for his senior year. Richie’s exploits on the hardwood stand foremost in memory. He led the 1956-57 squad in scoring, foul shooting percentage and assists. He broke the school record for field goal percentage.
On the diamond, the southpaw was a starting pitcher and outfielder as a sophomore and junior. As a senior, he batted over .300, but the regret of not qualifying for the state tournament despite posting a winning record is a deep-seated memory. Plainville defeated Southington in the final game, and the Blue Knights went on to state finals.
In football as a senior, he was a two-way starter at end for a team that won the Connecticut Valley Conference championship and went 6-3. Two of the losses were to Bristol (one high school in those days) and Southington, both of which more than doubled PHS in enrollment.The hardships he endured in committing everything he had to his teams went a long way in making the man, who coached PHS sports from 1963-83.
After attending Southern Connecticut State College, Buchanan returned to his roots.He spent 13 seasons as an assistant basketball coach, as the Devils posted winning records across the board. The 1965-66 team went to the state final but lost a 59-52 decision to East Catholic.He served as head soccer coach for the program’s first seven seasons. The Devils qualified for their first tournament and battled defending state champion Guilford on the road but lost in double overtime.“Never was I so proud of a team I coached,” he says. “They were only exposed to soccer for the first time as high school students.” Statistics meant little to Richie Buchanan, especially next to his devotion to the student-athletes of his town.
1983 State Champion Baseball Team
The Blue Devils have won eight state championships and the first came in resounding fashion in 1983.The Blue Devils, under the guidance of head coach Ron Jones, went 23-0 to become the school’s first undefeated team since 1938. They outscored their opposition 194-58 and placed three players on the All-State squad. Plainville defeated Sheehan-Wallingford, 5-1, in the final on June 12 at Southington High School. Plainville had posted some exceptional teams in the first seven years of Jones’ tenure, but none was able to break through to a title. The 1981 season ended at the hands of Sheehan, so the season-ending victory over the Titans two years later was sweet revenge.The Devils burned Farmington (9-4), Watertown (6-4, quarterfinals), Joel Barlow-Redding (7-0, semifinals) along the way.
When the23-game mission was complete, the Plainville program was honored by being selected the top team in District 1 – one geographical region out of eight nationally – by the American Baseball Coaches Federation. Plainville was the lone unbeaten team among the eight.
Jones summed the season up in a quotation borrowed from the late Hal Levy of the Shore Line Times in Guilford, who covered the championship game against Sheehan:“You’re dealing with a 17-year-old mind. If you can control a 17-year-old mind for a length of time, you’re going to make a million dollars and have a best seller.”Whether Jones’ squad was the best in Plainville’s regal baseball history may be subject to debate, but not too much.
1984 State Champion Baseball Team
The expectations for the 1984 Plainville High baseball team were astronomical as they very well should have been. Jeff Howes, the toast of the undefeated 1983 Class M champion team as a leader, a sensational pitcher and timely slugger, returned for his senior year with plenty of support. Rick Ouellette was productive at the plate and in spot duty on the mound. Both were All-Staters as juniors. Four other starters returned.
In an early season National High School Baseball Poll published by Collegiate Baseball magazine, Plainville was positioned where New England teams rarely tread. The Devils were ranked 15th.But expectations have a tendency of weighing heavy on the shoulders of high school athletes. After crushing Middletown and Goodwin Tech to start the season, the Blue Devils lost consecutive games to Naugatuck, ending a 25-game unbeaten skein, and Bristol Eastern. They got back in the win column against Wolcott but lost three straight to Avon, Woodrow Wilson and Wilcox Tech. On May 2, Plainville was 3-5. “It’s the fat-cat syndrome and I’m not happy with it,” head coach Ron Jones told the Plainville News after the Wilson loss. “I was concerned with the attitudes. They didn’t think anyone was going to be able to beat them. You’re not going to win a championship with words. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline.”
On June 12, after a stirring 7-5 win over Berlin in the legendary Class M title game played before about 3,500 at Beehive Field, the Devils had finished 20-5.Starting with a 12-1 win over Farmington after the Wilcox Tech loss, Plainville produced double-digit run totals in 12 of the 17 successive victories, outscoring foes by a jaw-dropping 195-42. The Devils avenged all five losses, completed a three-game sweep of Berlin in the championship and scored less than eight runs only once (4-2 win over Naugatuck on May 24).The Devils collectively batted .320 compared to .167 for the opposition. They outscored them 251-75 and out-hit them 286-151 to secure their position with the finest that Plainville has ever produced.
The championship game was Jones’ last at Plainville. He went 153-40 over his nine-year tenure including 62-7 over the final three.