Trying to instill the concept of team unity and admirable traits such as optimism and a sharp, competitive attitude are challenging tasks for a coach of high school athletes. However, when 1994 Branford Sports Hall of Fame inductee Robert J. Massey Sr. walked into the life of coach and 1992 Hall of Fame inductee Warren B. Sampson, Jr., the creation of an extraordinary three-sport athlete and a reverent individual were inevitable.
A lifelong resident of Branford and one of 12 children, Massey played football, basketball, and baseball for Coach Sampson and was later named captain of the football team.
During the 1949-50 season, Massey played running back and guard on the football squad and teamed with fellow inductee Russell “Butch” Gordon, and 1993 Branford Sports Hall of Famer Joe Paul. In the Milestone Yearbook of 1950, the preview of future stars highlighted the basketball team. The Branford Jayvees were classified as “the stars of the future.”
The 1951-52 season had many wavering moments for Massey. In the opening game versus St. Mary’s of New Haven, Massey collided on a kick-off with an opposing player, breaking his nose and dislocating his opponent’s shoulder. The other memorable game occurred on Thanksgiving Day against unbeaten, unscored upon East Haven Yellow Jackets. In the contest, Branford managed to complete one pass, a 22 yard spiral from quarterback Bob Mason to Joe Paul, which proved to be there deciding factor in the Hornets 7-6 win, a victory which gave Branford a share of the Housatonic League title with East Haven and Shelton.
The basketball squad was equally impressive, finishing with a 16-5 record, in which Massey played a pivotal role in several games, including a clinched birth in the C.I.A.C. tournament. After playing basketball for Coach Sampson, Massey entered the United Stated Navy on March 18, 1952 at the Naval Boot Camp in Bainbridge, Maryland, and later stationed in Boston, Massachusetts and Norfolk, Virginia where he played baseball, football, and basketball. Before ending his four year military service in March of 1956, Massey stationed aboard the USS Midway (Mediterranean Duty) and played sports on the Midway Naval Team from November of 1954 to March of 1956. Massey also played on local fast pitch softball and in several bowling leagues.
A lifelong resident of Branford, Massey has held several important positions, including his current work at the Massey’s Plate Glass & Aluminum, Inc. as a Corporate Executive Officer. For 41 years, he has been a member of Branford Fire Department’s Hook & Ladder Company One and is presently Deputy Fire Chief for the Town of Branford. For the past 21 years he has been a Corporate Sponsor of Branford, youth and adult sports teams as well as being part of many civic groups and organizations. Living with his wife, Jean, the father of three, and the grandfather of twin granddaughters, Massey enters tonight’s Branford Sports Hall of Fame with honor.
“I was very excited about receiving word that I was inducted into the Branford Sports Hall of Fame. I am very honored to be in with a group of such athletes that I remember playing with and watching.”