During the late 1930’s, the town of Branford was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to watch a warrior of an athlete who was described as an astute, quick and talented person. That person was none other than 1997 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Albert “Abby” Torino. As a four sport athlete ranging from football and basketball to track and baseball, “Abby” generated success for the community while demonstrating teamwork to others.
As a student at Branford High School from 1935 to 1938, Abby made an early impression in the Branford sports world by making the baseball team in his freshman season, playing alongside other Hall of Fame inductees Pete Naimo (1992), Joe “Butch” (1993) and Hank LaCroix (1994).
In his sophomore season while a member of the basketball team, he was a part of history when the Branford Hornets captured the Housatonic League crown by defeating Stratford 21-18. During that season, the Hornets held an 11-4 record before moving onto the Class B State Championship, defeating Chapman Tech and Wallingford for the state title. Tonight’s inductee received a considerable amount of playing time as a starting forward for the basketball team. That year, Branford moved on to play in the New England Tournament in Burlington, Vermont, only to fall a bit short to Burlington High School, 29-20. Abby had the distinction of playing basketball with 1995 Hall of Fame inductees Vic Lukawkty, Joe Namio, Hank LaCroix, Paul Ward (1996 inductee) and Steven Hylinski (1993).
In 1937, “Abby” and the Hornets basketball squad finished with an 18-5 record and for the second time won the Housatonic League Championship in addition to a third coronation of the Class B Connecticut Championship. Under the tutelage of 1988 Hall of Fame inductee, John Knecht Jr., the Hornets won nine of its first 10 games that year while defeating Robert Fitch, Wallingford and Naugatuck 112 to 52 in state play.
As a senior, “Abby” was voted Most Athletic Boy and he exemplified that as a starting forward on the 1937-38 basketball squad. That year, the Hornets accomplished a very rare event in athletics – a perfect season. Not only did Branford win the Housatonic League, but, also claimed a third straight Connecticut Class B State Championship, winning twenty-one straight games. It was also the first year that a Housatonic League winner went undefeated. In football, tonight’s inductee enjoyed a successful second place standing in the Housatonic League Valley Conference after dropping only one league game during the season.
Following high school, Abby went into the United State Navy from 1943 to 1945. Abby married Ruth Morse in 1941 and they were married for 54 years until her death in 1995. He worked at Bond Bread from 1940 and 1949 and at Sealtest Milk from 1949 to 1982. Abby is the father to four children, Robert, Gerald, Janice (Bradley) and Joanne (Holcomb), the grandfather to five and the great-grandfather to three. He now lives in Spring Hill, Florida.
“This award is simply wonderful. When I had found out that I was being inducted I sat down and cried. I couldn’t believe it. I played with a great group of athletes and this induction is certainly outstanding for me,” said Torino.