HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — For three years, the Yard Goats’ Whalers Weekend has brought together Hartford’s hockey stars of the past, but before they could kick off the reunion festivities, they had to visit some fans who can’t make it to the ballpark.
Whalers alumni surprised patients at UConn John Dempsey Hospital on Friday.
“I’m really surprised and it’s been wonderful,” said Judy Sylvester, who was awaiting ankle surgery. She said she has fond memories of watching the Whalers play with her family.
They spent the morning signing autographs and chatting with patients and staff, like Nurse Diane Morgan. She can show you pictures from that final Whalers game… she was there 23 years ago.
“I know a lot of people in Connecticut really were sad when they left,” said Morgan, “so it’s nice to see them here and doing this.”
For the past three years, The Yard Goats have brought these former Whalers together, and for Friday’s hospital tour, they were even joined by some current Yard Goats.
“The colors we where are the colors they used to wear,” said Yard Goats pitcher Justin Lawrence, “so being with these guys and hearing their stories, it’s really a one of a kind opportunity.”
“A lot of the stuff they talk about translates to stuff we’re going through,” said pitcher Jordan Foley.
They relate to people across the decades; that’s what makes their fan relationship so special.
“This is what the Whalers were all about when they were here, the players just amalgamated,” said longtime Whalers broadcaster Chuck Kaiton.
“That’s the neat thing about a smaller market. People developed relationships and when you stop and think that this team has been gone for 23 years and people still remember these guys. It’s incomparable and I know it hasn’t happened anywhere else with teams that have relocated in professional sports.”
“It’s nice to put some light in their day,” said former Whaler and Don Nachbauer, “A lot of the people here remember the Whalers so it’s been a pretty cool experience today.”