When Walter (Klinky) Klarman passed away on February 10, 1977, a competitive heart was stilled. The stories of his courage are legend wherever sports memories are discussed hereabouts. It is as it should be for Klinky had the distinction of once striking out George Herman (Babe) Ruth, the great Hall of Famer of the New York Yankees and greatest slugger of his time. Klarman was pitching for Albie Booth’s New Haven Chevvies in that exhibition game at Yale Field where he threw “aspirin tablets” past the noted cleanup hitter to the delight of some 12,000 fans. Though newspaper made much of that feat in their post-game accounts, Klarman was of a different mind. He always claimed that catcher Joe Lawson has the Babe laughing so hard that he was an easy victim. Nonetheless, the pitching ace of the old Annex area was able to command higher fees for his skills from such premier teams as the New Haven Police, the New Haven Pros, the Hartford Chiefs, the New London Whalers and the Torrington Chiefs to name a few.
From his birth on August 7, 1909 Klinky showed the courage that made him a legend. He weighed less than two pounds at birth but he grew into a wide shouldered , though only 5’5”, southpaw fast enough to earn a pro status even before his class graduated him from Hillhouse. That coach Chick Bowen didn’t make use of his pitching talents can only be attributed to the fact that Hillhouse in the late 20’s was deep with pitchers of merit with more experience than Klarman.
There came a day when the youngster Klinky was called upon to pitch for Deep River of the old Middlesex league. As a replacement for “Steamer” Stanley, another speedballer of merit, Klinky set the league on fire. He had pinpoint control and pitched his own game. He was considered headstrong, but all his catchers admired his spunk. So did his Annex chums who had their hero coaching and playing quarterback for their football team.
Klinky was recruited by Holy Cross where he had a distinguished career that was cut short by a knee injury. During his time at the Cross, his teams were captained by Branford’s Stu Clancy. He married Branford’s Rosalind (Posey) Clancy in 1934 and three sons, Stuart, David, and Michael resulted from that union. He gave his skill and talent to the kids of the town in the 40’s and imparted much of his advice to Joe Orsene who is also being enrolled into the Hall of Fame tonight. In his late years, the senior Klarman spent considerable time with his comrades of childhood, visiting the sick and driving the infirmed among them about the state.