Inducted into Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Greater Hartford, 1983

Bill Savitt was a lifelong business and civic leader in Hartford. He developed his jewelry business from a one-man operation that he started at the age of 18 to the largest jewelry store in the state, employing 75 people. He was known for innovative and memorable advertising techniques. He was also a philanthropist, supporting cross-denominational religious charities, disadvantaged children and many others in need. He and his brother, Max Savitt, ran radio station WCCC from 1947 to 1967, devoting it to Hartford public affairs and enabling charities to broadcast their messages about community events.

Savitt formed the semipro “Savitt Gems” baseball team in the late 1920s and he owned Bulkeley Stadium in Hartford’s south end from 1932-1946. He brought in stars such as Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, and Ted Williams to play exhibition games and he enabled Black players, such as Satchell Paige, to play in Bulkeley Stadium long before Major League Baseball allowed Black players onto teams. Amid the Great Depression and World War II, thousands paid admission to witness the Gems oppose professional clubs including the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Athletics; semi-pro teams, barnstorming outfits, local amateurs, and stars of the national game.

Broadcaster Bob Steele wrote, “Bill Savitt has done more for sports, during the years I’ve known him, than anyone in our city. He kept baseball alive in the 30’s, after the Eastern League franchise had folded here, by fielding a great semi-pro team known as the Savitt Gems. This team played exhibitions with many big league clubs as well as with scores of negro national League teams and top semi-pro teams. Bill brought such stars as Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Satchell Paige, Connecticut’s Walt ‘Moose’ Dropo…and many others..Bill helped George Lannom bring a top sports of the 1935-39 period, motorcycling, to Bukeley Stadium fans, drawing capacity crowds of 6500 week after week. As a promoter and friend of sports and sports personalities, he was respected for his integrity and fairness in dealing with them.”

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