Scott Arigoni. A Torrington legend. Special feature by Dan Lovallo.
TORRINGTON: On Wednesday, June 25, Torrington standout Scott Arigoni will be the first inductee in the newly created Fuessenich Park Hall of Fame. Here is the story our own Dan Lovallo wrote just last month.....
Scott Arigoni's wife, Linda, figures her husband has pitched more innings at Fuessenich Park than any pitcher in history.
When you consider his days at Oliver Wolcott Tech, the Torrington American Legion P-38s, collegiate baseball and the Tri-state league, he probably has.
However, Argoni's lasting memory of the historic ball yard had nothing to do with a game, but with a celebration.
"I was a member of the 1975 Torrington American Legion baseball team that won the state championship," Arigoni said. "We returned home late at night, after winning the title. The bus dropped us off at Dick's Restaurant (on E. Main St.) and we paraded over to the park. It was my fondest memory of Fuessenich Park. It was like a carnival late at night with all those people celebrating."
A strapping 6-6, 200 lbs. in his playing days, Arigoni became one of the most notable pitchers to come out of the Torrington area. He managed to parlay his talents into a 6 1/2 year career in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system.
"The Red Sox, the Reds, the Phillies and the Cardinals all scouted me, and the Cardinals drafted me in the 33rd round of the 1978 draft," Arigoni said.
Starting out in rookie league ball in 1979 with Gastonia, Arigoni had stops along the way in St. Petersburg, FL in the Florida State League and then Arkansas and later Springfield, ILL at the AA level, just two steps from the major leagues. "I actually was invited to AAA spring training my last two years."
One week before Christmas in 1984, however, the Cardinals notified Arigoni they were "granting" him his unconditional release.
"An early Christmas present," Arigoni laughed.
Arigoni numbered Andy Van Slyke among his teammates and pitched against the likes of Don Mattingly, eventual Hall of Fame player Ryan Sandburg, Darryl Strawberry and other future big league stars.
"Strawberry hit a 400-foot bomb off of me to straight away center in Paintsville, KY. I'll never forget the night, because they had a promotion. A helicopter flew over the ballpark and dropped strawberries into the crowd," Arigoni said.
Another thrill was pitching against his former American Legion teammate Don Murelli of Torrington, who was a highly-touted prospect in A-ball for the Baltimore Orioles. Murelli was playing shortstop for Miami and Arigoni was pitching for St. Petersburg. "Don and I had spent the day together. I think he got a double off of me that night. And my grandparents were at the game."
All those years of playing baseball did not dull Arigoni's appetite for the game.
He returned to the area to play in the Tri-State League, the over-40 league, the Hartford Twi Light League and the Waterbury Twi-Met League. He even pitched in some exhibition games for the Torrington Twisters of the New England Collegiate League against Team USA, Team Canada and the Cuban Nationals.
After pitching for Thomaston in the Tri-State League, including winning a championship, Arigoni felt there was enough talent to field a team in Torrington, and so he founded the Torrington Rebels.
"We had so many players come out for the team, I had to cut kids. We had enough players to field a 25-man roster. Over a four-year period we went something like 86-16 and won five rings," Arigoni said.
But it was not all strike outs and shutouts for Arigoni, during this period. He and Linda lost their son Dustin to tragedy in 2006, one of six children in the family. (Brett, Erica, Sean, Noah and Yandel are the others.)
"The year that I lost my son Dustin, it was a very emotional year. My kids came to every game and would pass the hat in the crowd to help pay expenses for running the team. The generosity of the fans was so great, I always had enough to pay the umpires.”
"In the last game that season we came back and beat Bethlehem for the championship. I was thinking about Dustin the whole game. When we won, I remember looking to heaven and then I fell to the ground, as my family and the rest of the team came out and surrounded me. It was unexplainable," Arigoni continued.
Arigoni's goal was to pitch until he was 50. He made it to 51.
At the age of 55, he no longer pitches, but looks as if he could still strike 'em out.
A devoted family man, he also finds time to manage a 700-acre farm in Goshen.
"I love the outdoors," said the avid hunter and fisherman.
Once both a college and high school basketball referee - basketball is another love - Arigoni still manages to find time to referee high school games.
A former social worker for the state of Connecticut, he and his wife remain foster parents for the state, estimating they have helped raise 100 children in the past 15 years.
Arigoni gives his wife all the credit for that endeavor and for being his big support valve for everything in his life.
And always, he will cherish his Fuessenich Park memories.
"I remember going there as a young kid and the big crowds in the old wooden grandstand. My Dad would tell me 'all kinds of city teams played here before World War II. I even remember the 50 cent hot dogs when Joe Bashara ran the concession stand."
It's evident by his successful career, others will remember his exploits too.