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Westport's James Blake Joins County Hall Of Fame

The 2013 Fairfield County Hall of Fame Class: Earl Lavery, Barbara Rioux (mother of Allyson), Dennis Paglialunga, Don Cook, and Mark Hirschbeck. Not Pictured: James Blake.
The 2013 Fairfield County Hall of Fame Class: Earl Lavery, Barbara Rioux (mother of Allyson), Dennis Paglialunga, Don Cook, and Mark Hirschbeck. Not Pictured: James Blake. Photo Credit: Anthony Buzzeo

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Six area sports figures were inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday at a ceremony at UConn Stamford.

The inductees were James Blake and Mark Hirschbeck in the Jackie Robinson Professional wing, Allyson Rioux and Dennis Paglialunga in the James O’Rourke Amateur wing, and Don Cook and Earl Lavery in the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service wing.

Blake, a Fairfield High School graduate and now Westport resident, did not attend because he is currently playing at the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Hirschbeck, a Stratford native, umpired in Major League Baseball for 16 years, and joined his brother John, also an umpire, as the only brother tandem in the Hall of Fame.

Rioux, of Stamford, was a three sport standout at Westhill High before playing softball at Rhode Island University and University of Massachusetts. She also played for the Raybestos Brakettes for ten years, leading them to five national titles. She died in 1989 of a brain tumor.

“This is a wonderful honor for my family,” said Cheryl Tiscia, Rioux’s sister.

Paglialunga, starred in three sports at New Canaan High School before being a four-year starter at third base for the University of New Haven. He helped the team reach the NCAA tourney each of his years there and was elected to the schools Hall of Fame in 1988.

“Just looking at this wall, I can’t believe the names I am next to….Bobby Valentine. Are you kidding me,” Paglialunga said thanking former coaches Bo Hickey and Bob Lynch.

Cook’s 50 years of experience at the college athletic level includes playing, coaching, and as an athletic director at Fairfield University, and later as athletic director at Sacred Heart University. He had helped guide the Pioneers to Division I and is a member of the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame.

“I have been very lucky to be surrounded by great people,” he said. His successor at Sacred Heart, Bobby Valentine , was in the audience Wednesday.

Lavery won 230 games, without ever having a losing season while coaching Fairfield Prep from 1968 to 2002. During that time he won three state titles and coached four undefeated teams.

The Fairfield County Sports Commission , which oversees the Hall of Fame , will honor the inductees with a ceremony at the commission’s 9th Annual Sports Night award dinner scheduled for Oct. 21 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.

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