Syd Conn

Syd Conn (1913-2003)
Inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Greater Hartford, 1984

Promoted sporting events in the Hartford area for parts of six decades

Year after year, the Hartford native brought entertainers and world-class athletes to the area to help raise money for local charities, especially the Times Farm and Camp Courant summer camps for Hartford-area youth.

“Syd Conn had an amazing knack for attracting the best possible celebrities. He was persistent in doing things and brought Jack Benny and Muhammad Ali, when he was in his prime, to Hartford,” said Owen Canfield, retired Courant sports editor. Conn hosted many celebrity softball games for charities, including Camp Courant, which he attended as a youngster in the 1920s. Thanks to Conn, baseball greats such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Pete Rose made appearances in the area. Jack Benny made a special appearance in 1966 to benefit the Camp Courant-Times Farm Camp Benefit softball game. Other celebrity guests over the years included Joe Namath, Casey Stengel, Mel Allan, and Phyllis Diller.

Growing up poor in the North End of Hartford, Conn worked odd jobs to help his family of seven children. He organized neighborhood football and basketball teams, walking to games in different neighborhoods. He remembered, “We couldn’t afford a basketball; we’d practice with bound rags and a fruit basket with the bottom cut out.” He was a baseball player and a football quarterback at Hartford High, where he graduated in 1932. but his real forte was boxing. When he was fighting two other boys and the crowd started throwing nickels and dimes into the ring, he did his best to pick them up from the mat, and learned that he could make money arranging games for others.

He had a special place in his heart for his alma mater. Conn said in a 1994 Courant interview: “I’m still a big follower of Hartford Public and City Series football, and I’ve wanted to do something for the kids.” On Thanksgiving Day for more than forty years, the Syd H. Conn Most Valuable Player Trophy was presented at the Hartford Public-Weaver football game.
Conn was involved in the West Hartford youth baseball and football programs as an umpire and referee. He organized the town’s first modified-pitch softball league and was its first commissioner. He was honored by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance Good Sport Award for his dedication to promoting sports in the community.

Conn was the owner of Conn & Conn Mortgage Company in West Hartford. He was president of the Emanuel Synagogue Brotherhood and B’nai B’rith Ararat Lodge 13.
Photo: Digital Archives/Sports: jhsgh-sports-promoters-conn_syd_h-1984_hof-01-400ppi


Peter Wallace, “Conn’s Athletic/Promoter Life Reads Like a Book,” West Hartford News (August 6, 1992)

JHSGH program “Jewish Activities in the World of Sports” with Syd Conn and Morris Cohen