Anthony "Tony" Proto
Unselfish. Quick. Tough. Those accolades describe 1998 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Anthony “Tony” Proto as he led Branford teams to several successful seasons. A member and captain of the Hornets basketball team, “Tony” also excelled in football with the high school team and the Branford Laurels.
Born on November 13, 1927, the son of the late Pasquale and Rosa Pepe Proto, “Tony” attended Branford High School from 1942 to 1946. During his junior year, “Tony” and the Hornets earned a State Championship team to Branford, in basketball, as they downed Derby in the tournament final 31-25. In the regular season, the Hornets ran second to “A” class Stratford in the Housatonic League. Fellow inductees Bill Hinchey (1991), Bill Mischler (1993) Jim Murphy (1995), Robert Geier (1996), Ken Erickson (1997), Henry Olejarczyk (1998) were on this championship team. The Hornets were coached by another member of the Hall of Fame - Warren B. Sampson, Jr. (1992). “Tony” also known as “Roach”, saw most of his valuable action in the post-season, where he was one of the initial factors in helping defeat Rockville by the score of 30-29, thanks in part to two baskets in the closing moments.
In 1946, the Hornets made a clean sweep by taking both the Housatonic League Championship and State Class B title. Led by tonight’s inductee, Branford was widely recognized as being one of the best basketball teams in the state in that time period. ‘Tony”, nicknamed the “ACE”, played the forward position for the basketball team and it was his aggressiveness and fine leadership as captain, which helped bring Branford to league and state titles. For the season that year, “Tony” scored 102 points and third high scorer on the team. In one of Branford’s many crucial games that year against Milford, a stern opponent in the Housatonic League, “Tony” led the Hornets with 11 points, en route to a four game winning streak that year. Branford ended that season with a 17-5 win/ loss record, including an 11 game wining streak to finish out the season. In the state tournament, Branford defeated Middletown (38-26), Seymour (41-32), Robert Fitch (47-32), and Stonington, (44-31). In the title game, Captain Tony Proto was the second leading scorer with nine points. That year, he was placed on the Class “B” All-Tournament Second Team. That year, twenty members of the basketball team traveled to Washington, D.C. as a testimonial of the townspeople to the team in recognition of their feat.
After graduation, Tony served four years in the United States Air Force and played football for the Branford Laurels. He is married to the former Donata Lucian (Dee) on May 12, 1956 and is the father to two sons, Anthony M and James R. Proto. He has four brothers, James, Frank, Willie, and Patsy and two sisters both deceased, Mary R. Streeto and Venter Giordano. He was employed by the Nygard Express Company for 30 years (Truck Driver) and for the Algonquin Industries (Machine Operator) for 20 years before retiring in 1994. “Just to be honored by the town that I grew up in is really an honor. It makes you feel so proud. To be associated with such great sports figures which have been honored already is tremendous, “ said Proto.