Back in 1936 two young athletes Joe “Porky” Santorso and Anthony “Tut” D’Amato began a team organization called the Bristol Hoboes. During a span of ten years they participated in basketball, baseball, football and softball leagues with some of the finest athletes from Gaylord Street, Park Street and the West End area.
In the beginning their practices and scrimmages took place on tarred streets, graveled school yards and a church lawn. Backboards were hung on telephone poles, (with lights of course) and a peach basket was nailed to it and they would play basketball in the street.
Old burlap bags were used for bases along with black taped baseballs and bats that were broken at Muzzy Field by the high school teams, were nailed, screwed and taped together. For football they had no equipment other than just the football itself which was the old leather type.
In those days games were played continually from the moment they got out of school until it got too late or too dark to play. From 1936 until 1943 Porky’s and Tut’s guidance and leadership led the Hoboes to four basketball championships, five softball championships and three football championships and in 1938 took the city wide baseball championship.
Their football teams played rivals from the towns of Danbury, Avon, Southington, Middletown, Westfield, Waterbury, New Britain, Meriden, West Haven, Bloomfield and Torrington and every Thanksgiving Day they would play the Southington team.
In forming their first football team “Porky” & “Tut” loved the game so much that they got the youngsters on the street to search for rags and scrap metal to sell in order to get equipment for their teams. Their first uniforms consisted of old Army shirts until gradually everyone on the team had a uniform and finally a pair of football shoes. Then it happened, World War II broke out and this was the only team that the Hoboes could not compete against.
In a wipe out of players, the 43rd division of the National Guard took away some athletes. “Tut” and “Iron Mike” Strawhowski joined the Air Force, and “Porky” joined the Marines, as the leadership was slipping away. However, boys like Jim “Bat” Battisto, Tony “Chut” Serratore, Louie Grimaldi and Jimmy Murrone tried to hold the teams together and still won championships at the Boys Club and in city leagues. Eventually the war was too much and even the younger leaders were gone.
After the war it was street ball games once again and playing on the gravel school yards at Park Street school. The teams were gone and an era had passed on but the years under the leadership of “Porky” and “Tut” were a great success.
The Hoboes didn’t have super stars like the coaches look for today, all they had were some kids who were hungry for the game of sports. They were taught desire, dedication and discipline and the team leaders always received 100% from these kids.
Thanks to “Porky” and “Tut” these boys were rewarded with the enjoyment of participating in the field of athletics.