Sacred Heart-Waterbury (CT) senior basketball guard Mustapha Heron and Glastonbury girls soccer midfielder Mara Cosentino have been selected as the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance (CSWA) Hal Levy High School Athletes of the Year. They will be honored–along with many others (including former welterweight boxing champion Marlon Starling)–at the 75th Gold Key Dinner on April 24th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Heron, the 2015 CHSCA Player of the Year, led Sacred Heart to Class S championships in 2014 and 2015 and is a two-time All-State selection. One of the top recruits in the country, he will play at Auburn next season. Cosentino–who will attend Colgate–was a starting midfielder at Glastonbury for four seasons and led the school to two straight Class LL titles and three appearances overall in the Class LL final. Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner–which begins at 4 p.m.–can be obtained by contacting CSWA President Matt Conyers at (860)874-4166 or by emailing Alliance VP Tim Jensen at [email protected]……….TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the last NBA player to lead the league in rebounding for FOUR consecutive seasons? Answer to follow……….Sad news came down this past week as the baseball world lost one of its greatest ambassadors–the legendary Joe Garagiola; he passed away at the age of 90. He always joked about his very modest, nine-year baseball career–often poking fun at himself. A childhood friend who grew up living not far from Yogi Berra, Joe would often say, “Not only was I not the best catcher in the major leagues, I wasn’t even the best catcher on my STREET.” But he truly made his mark in broadcasting–spending over 50 years in the business as a baseball announcer and host of the “Today” show–among many other undertakings. His sense of humor on NBC’s “Game of the Week” is something I grew up with and always admired. My “Monday Night Sports Talk” co-host Tony DeAngelo on Garagiola: “He was an extremely genuine man who made baseball fun for everyone. He always put others above himself–be it Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, or his viewers. And his perceptions about the game (i.e. that games were won or lost by things that don’t show up in a box score or on a speed gun) were PRICELESS.” What can I truly say about a man who contributed greatly to my immense love of baseball–which started a LONG time ago? I’ll simply offer this: THANK YOU, Mr. Garagiola, for showing me that baseball–AND LIFE in general–are meant to be FUN. Yeah–no one infused humor and laughter into the game quite like Joe did……….ITEM: Clemson University football player Kaleb Chalmers is arrested after being found with marijuana in the groin area of his shorts and a digital scale in the backseat of his car. If I’m his defense lawyer, I throw this out to the judge and pray for the best: “Your Honor, Mr. Chalmers routinely places various plant materials packaged in his groin area–SOLELY to provide extra cushioning against further groin injuries that were originally suffered on the football field. And as far as the digital scale is concerned? My client–a true scholar and fine individual–simply likes to make 32-ounce Gatorade bottles last a very long time; thus, he uses the scale SOLELY to measure the liquid in VERY small, one ounce increments.”……….If he pitches in the neighborhood of 220 innings this season, Red Sox pitcher David Price will earn approximately $137,000 for every INNING he pitches. Anyone out there still wondering WHY it costs around EIGHT DOLLARS for a 12-oz. “brewski” at Fenway Park?………. Wouldn’t it have been REALLY cool if former major league pitcher Jamie Easterly had grown up in Rhode Island and attended Westerly High School? Just picture the headlines in the local papers each time he threw a “gem” and/or led the varsity baseball squad to victory: EASTERLY LEADS WESTERLY……….My good friend Marjorie Adams–great-granddaughter of baseball pioneer/’should be’ Hall of Famer “Doc” Adams–demonstrating her OWN refreshing sense of humor: “I always tell my hairdresser that I want to look more like Christie Brinkley than DAVID BRINKLEY. Then again, she’s only 22–and wouldn’t know who EITHER of those individuals are!”……….I used to think that watching Keith Hernandez playing first base was the ultimate thing of beauty. That all changed recently when I saw a photo of lovely Australian model Miranda Kerr decked out in an “airy”, red gown at a Vanity Fair Oscars party in Beverly Hills. Sorry, Keith–there’s absolutely NO comparison; the word “stunning” would simply be a VAST understatement at this juncture……….*O.K.–here goes (for the final time, folks): Former Australian gymnast Georgia Bonora marries Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana, divorces, then walks down the aisle with former MLB pitcher John Maine. Problems arise with Mr. Maine; she divorces him, weds ex-NFL nose tackle Ted Washington–proceeds to divorce Ted–then ties the knot with former NFL DT Russell Maryland. Fans of U.S. geography would surely be delighted as she’d be walking around with the “stately”, full-married name of Georgia Montana Maine Washington Maryland……….Answer to trivia question: KEVIN GARNETT–who led the league in rpg each year from 2003-2007 as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves……….Finally, condolences go out to the families of two other sports notables who passed away recently: Former NFL running back Kevin Turner and former college basketball player/actor Ken Howard. Turner–who played eight seasons for the Patriots and Eagles–died at the age of 46 after a six-year battle with ALS. Following his diagnosis, Kevin started the Kevin Turner Foundation where he was active in researching the links between brain disease, ALS, and head trauma to football. He was a good friend of “Thursday Night Tailgate” where my co-host Chris Mascaro and I often mentioned his efforts and lauded his continued, valiant bout with the awful disease; I ended each show with the words, “Good night, Kevin–keep fighting.” Ken Howard, who died at 71, was the captain of his basketball team at Amherst during the 1960’s but later gained fame as a L.A. high school coach on the popular TV show “The White Shadow.” He also appeared in numerous films/additional TV series and served as president of the Screen Actors Guild for a few years. May these two talented/special individuals rest in peace.