A documentary chronicling the complicated life of New Britain baseball legend Steve Dalkowski, which has been in the works since the early 1990s, has its official premiere date.
The documentary by Tom Chiappetta, a long-time sports writer in Bridgeport and the executive director of the Fairfield Sports Commission and Hall of Fame for the past 15 years, is set to air on Oct. 10 on Connecticut Public Television. The 30-minute production will begin at 7 p.m. and will also be available to stream on CPTV’s Spirit website app.
CPTV is expected to begin airing a 30-second promo for the documentary near the end of September as premiere date draws closer.
Dalkowski passed away earlier this year due to complications from covid-19 while living at Grandview Rehab in New Britain at the age of 80. Still a record-holder for the New Britain High School baseball team, Dalkowski went on to pitch nine years in the minor leagues for the Orioles organization, and his legend has withstood the test of time as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers the game has ever seen. Red Sox legend Ted Williams considered Dalkowski the possessor of the hardest fastball he ever saw, but Dalkowski’s control issues prevented a trip to the major leagues. He struggled with alcoholism and dementia as a result of alchohol abuse after retiring from baseball, and returned home to the Hardware City to live out the rest of his days at Grandview. His blazing fastball has been well documented and used as a basis for the character Nuke Laloosh in the film ‘Bull Durham.’
But Chiappeta’s documentary will bring exclusive content such as an extensive interview with Dalkowski that was conducted back in 1991 when Chiappetta traveled to Oildale, California to visit Dalkowski at his home, where he was living with his wife Virginia. The 40-minute conversation with Dalkowski will be a pillar in the upcoming documentary, which was made possible by Dalkowski’s former minor league catcher Frank Zupo, who helped set up the interview.
“Steve really opened up,” Chiappetta said of the meeting that took place nearly 30 years ago, and will finally be seen by the rest of the world in less than a month. “He went to a place where he talked about all the people he disappointed and how he threw a lot away because of his drinking. Sometimes timing is everything, and I think him seeing Frank took him back to one of the greatest times of his life. He loved playing ball and all the guys and that experience, and Frank was bringing up all of these old names and you could see it in his eyes.”
Chiappetta also conducted interviews with baseball legends like Brooks Robinson and Tom Seaver to shed more light on Dalkowski’s baseball life, and interviewed a total of roughly 25 people. He recently put together a five-minute trailer for the film and began pitching it to networks, and it was picked up by CPTV.
Chiappetta had a version of the documentary prepared for either a 30 or 60-minute broadcast, and hopes the documentary will shed light on Dalkowski’s life away from the pitcher’s mound.
“No one has ever really told his full story,” Chiappetta said. “His baseball life died and ended when he was 26 years old. He died when he was 80. That's 54 years of his life that people have touched on...but we'll be touching on his bouts with alcoholism and how it affected his life and his family. There are a lot of other things that transpired.”