Dunmorean of the Month: The Late Jimmy Brozzetti

By Steve Svetovich

Back in February 2006, Dunmore’s Jim Brozzetti needed someone to hold his hand when he attended the memorial service for his son, Jimmy, who tragically died at age 20 in a auto accident on his way back to Lycoming College.

That someone was late New York Yankees legend and Hall of Fame shortstop Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto.

“Jim, I’m here for you,” Rizzuto kept whispering to him.

The Scooter was nearing 90, and he was the one holding Brozzetti’s hand the entire hour, the worst hour of his good friend’s life.

That heart wrenching February day was also Brozzetti’s 60th birthday

That was likely the last funeral service Rizzuto attended before he died the following year in his sleep.

Brozzetti died last month after a long battle with cancer. He was never the same after his son’s tragic death.

Brozzetti was a close friend to Rizzuto and many other famous Yankees such as Joe Pepitone, Roy White, Don Mattingly, Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers, the late Gene Michael, and even late owner George Steinbrenner. He knew them all.

This scribe can attest to that. Rizzuto, in a personal letter to this scribe about 25 years ago, mentioned Brozzetti. Rizzuto wrote that he often visited Brozzetti at his Dunmore home. “When I come to visit my good friend Jimmy Brozzetti in Dunmore, I will look you up,” The Scooter wrote.

Jimmy Brozzetti is shown at left with Debi Preno, center, and former Yankee great Roy White at Russell’s Restaurant, Dunmore.

Brozzetti, upon Steinbrenner’s passing in 2010, remembered the former Yankees owner as a generous man who gave him unfettered access to the Yankees – some who became his closest friends.

Steinbrenner even gave Brozzetti a 1996 championship ring for being such a devoted Yankees fan.

Brozzetti, who owned a vending business, was known as Dunmore’s biggest New York Yankees fan. He attended over 900 consecutive Yankees games at Yankee Stadium across the 1980’s and 1990’s. He grew close to Rizzuto and other famous Yankees during that time period.

Brozzetti was a frequent visitor to the West Orange nursing home “The Scooter” lived in during the final months of his life.

“The Scooter” was a big fan of Derek Jeter and often spoke to Brozzetti of his admiration of the Yankees shortstop.

Rizzuto would imitate the famous “Jeter flip play,” even acting it out with Brozzetti in the nursing home.

When Rizzuto died, Brozzetti was at that funeral service. He was there for “The Scooter’s” wife, Cora. He was returning the favor and legacy of friendship.

Former Dunmore Councilman Paul Nardozzi said Brozzetti was like a big brother to him. “Jimmy was obviously Dunmore’s biggest Yankees man,” Nardozzi said. “He introduced me and my son Chris to George Steinbrenner and Gene Michael. And I met other Yankees like Roy White and Bucky Dent through Jimmy. They all knew Jimmy at Yankee Stadium. He was at every game.

“He was a mentor, a big brother to me. He was a very close friend.

The late Jimmy Brozzetti is shown with former Yankee player Rickey Henderson.

“Jimmy was also very charitable. He was involved in a lot of fund-raising efforts for kids, like the KRW Foundation, which raises money for the Boys and Girls Clubs. He used to get hundreds of baseballs signed by Yankees players and give the autographed balls to kids.”

Brozzetti had a great affinity for Dunmore football, Nardozzi said, because his late son Jimmy played for the Bucks.

“When he was sick and battling cancer,” Nardozzi said, “Jimmy would ask me to text him the score of the Dunmore Bucks football games after every quarter. He loved Dunmore Bucks football because his son played for them.”

Brozzetti, who died at 76, was a 1964 graduate of Dunmore High School. The son of the late Lucy and Angelo Brozzetti, Dunmore, he ran track and played baseball at Dunmore where he was nicknamed “Speedy Tomatoes.”

Following graduation, he enrolled in the U.S. Army and served in Korea. He attended Lackawanna Junior College and Johnson College, earning an associate degree.

Known in Dunmore as “Mr. Yankee,” he was a proud business owner of Jim’s Amusements and Vending for more than 40 years.

He played softball for many years in an adult league at Saint Anthony’s Playground, Dunmore.

Brozzetti was employed by Lackawanna County as the community outreach coordinator, working for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at PNC  Field in Moosic. The Lackawanna County Commissioners presented him with a proclamation for his commitment to helping children and youth organizations and as the driving force for the Legends Game at PNC Field, the KRW Foundation’s “Party with the Pros,” and the development of Strawberry Field in Peckville.

Brozzetti is survived by a daughter, Dina Manci, and granddaughter Lucy Manci, both of Glenburn.

Athlete of the Month: Emma Conte

By Steve Svetovich

Dunmore Lady Bucks senior shortstop Emma Conte is once again among the Lackawanna League Division III leaders in homers and batting average.

Emma, 18, at press time was leading Lackawanna League Division III hitters with six home runs. She was also among the league’s leading hitters with a .522 batting average.

And last season she hit a robust .550 with seven homers.

Daughter of Rich and Kim Conte, Emma is a three-year member of the Dunmore softball team. She is a two-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks volleyball team and is a member of the Spanish Club, French Club, SADD and TACT. Emma has a 91 grade point average at Dunmore.

A transfer from Riverside, where she played softball as a freshman, she was first team all-state, All Regional and a first-team Lackawanna League all-star last season.

Emma has not selected a college yet, but knows she wants to continue her softball career and study to become a physician’s assistant.

The slick fielding senior shortstop said her parents taught her a lot about the game. “They both played and were pretty good at it, so I learned a lot from them. They tell me to always be at my best and to be a leader. They tell me to get my teammates going. Keep them up.”

She talked about her future goals. “I want to continue playing softball in college and study to become a physician’s assistant. I want to work hard and get a good job.”

Emma, personable and hard working, said she enjoys listening to music in her spare time and would like to see Post Malone in concert.

The senior standout talked about what it takes to excel at the shortstop position in high school softball. “You need to be loud and call out the plays. You need to be a leader and keep your team up and positive. You need to be able to pick your team up when things aren’t going right.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore Lady Bucks softball coach Ryan Ferguson. “He is a great coach,” Emma said. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned from him. He teaches us we have to work as a team. He is very big on that. He tells me I have to be a leader. He is not just a coach, but a friend to all of us. We are a team under him.”

Well-spoken and always positive, Emma said she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Dunmore.

“We have great success here at Dunmore because of my teammates. We all get along so well. You are playing with your best friends.

“My teammates are my best friends on and off the field. We work as a close knit team.

“And that is one of the big reasons I love it here at Dunmore. I have the best friends and teammates all in one.”

Dunmore Freshman Steps Up Her Game

By Steve Svetovich

As a freshman in the Dunmore Lady Bucks starting five, Sophia Talutto made her mark as the season progressed.

But she really stepped up her game when all-state junior center Ciera Toomey went down with a torn ACL in the Lady Bucks district title win over Scranton Prep, 43-42, Thursday, March 3, at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Dunmore senior Moriah Murray hit the game-winning bucket in the district title win while senior Mia Blume led the Lady Bucks with 11 points, but the talented freshman Talutto chipped in with eight points, including two key 3-pointers.

Murray led the way with 32 points in the Lady Bucks 51-25 win over Shamokin in the PIAA Class 4A first round win Wednesday, March 9, but Sophia added 12 points as the team’s second leading scorer.

Murray scored 35 points in Dunmore’s 62-53 overtime win over Villa Joseph Marie in the PIAA Class 4A second round contest Sunday, March 13, at Easton Middle School. Sophia and Mia Blume were the team’s second leading scorers with 12 points each.

The Lady Bucks lost 40-39 in the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal at Berwick High School Wednesday, March 16, but Sophia led Dunmore in scoring with 14 points.

So the scrappy freshman became a mighty contributor in the playoffs, with standout teammate Ciera Toomey on the sidelines. Sophia, Moriah, Mia and a few others stepped up their games to the max.

Daughter of Lori and Joseph Talutto, Dunmore, Sophia, 15, averaged about 8.5 points per game as a freshman shooting guard this season.

Her sister Anna Talutto was a key four-year member of the Dunmore Lady Bucks and currently attends Penn State.

“My sister was known for her defense,” Sophia said. “And I learned a lot just by watching her play. She taught me a lot about how to,play good defense. I pattern a lot of my game after her.”

Sophia said she and her teammates were thrilled with the district title win. “A lot of it was for Ciera. We became more aggressive after she went down and fought hard to help get her a district title. We all stepped up, played with more confidence, and played together as a team. We were so happy to get that win. We were happy for Ciera and all of us as teammates.

“With Ciera going down early in that game, it was bad. We all felt bad at first. There were a lot of emotions and then we came through.

“Winning the district championship was the greatest feeling ever.”

Well-spoken and intelligent, Sophia has a 98.5 academic average at Dunmore. She is a member of the TACT Club and is a left wing on the soccer team.

She has played AAU basketball for five years on the NEPA Elite.

Sophia said her parents are a strong influence. “They teach me to always keep going. If you get knocked down, you need to get right back up.”

She has learned a lot from Dunmore veteran basketball coach Ben O’Brien. “He gave me a lot of confidence and is very supportive of everything.”

Sophia enjoys rap music and said she would like to see Tyler the Creator in concert.

As a freshman, she is enjoying her time at Dunmore and looking forward to the next three years. “Freshman year has really been great,” she said. “I’ve made a lot of memories and friendships. I love the community. We have great fans.”

Sophia has time to decide on a college and major, but there is one thing she knows for sure when the time comes. “I want to play basketball in college. I love the game.”