Local youth sports, high school hockey in particular, lost two well-known faces and voices over the weekend.
The news struck on social media almost back to back on Saturday night: Brian Dinneen, public address announcer for several West Haven High sports for over 20 years, died Friday at 65. George Burr, hockey statistician and PA announcer for Notre Dame-Fairfield for 35 years and an influential figure in local Little League for over 40 years, died Saturday, a day after his 74th birthday.
A member of the Class of 1964 at what was then Notre Dame of Bridgeport, Burr kept meticulous statistics on both the Lancers and their opponents. Before the CIAC posted regular-season standings on its website, he was one of the go-to men for a real-time playoff picture.
“We were ahead of the game before analytics knew what analytics were,” said Notre Dame-Fairfield athletic director Rob Bleggi, who was a hockey player in the Class of 1993.
“Working at Notre Dame, this is my 20th year, and if we didn’t talk every day, it was every other day. We were always talking, whether it was hockey, baseball, other teams. Our girls soccer team, he always knew what was going on. He always wanted to be in the know.”
Condolences to the Burr family on the passing of Mr. George Burr. George was an integral part of the ND hockey program for decades … if there was a stat to be had, George knew it. Prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time.
— ɴᴅ ғᴀɪʀғɪᴇʟᴅ ᴘʀɪɴᴄɪᴘᴀʟ (@NDFprincipal) June 21, 2020
Burr’s first love was baseball; “Yankees” was right in the middle of his email address. He founded the Little Fellows Tournament for 10-year-olds, which has run for nearly 40 years at Shelton National Little League.
A onetime president of Shelton South Little League and an umpire as well, he also coached the sons of his daughter, Lisa Carloto, in Trumbull. A plaque in his honor is attached to a dugout at the Kudej Complex in Shelton.
He was also a Lancers freshman and JV baseball coach. The school inducted Burr, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 for his contributions to the hockey program, joining his son, David, Class of 1990.
“For the time he committed to our school: They don’t make people like that anymore,” Bleggi said. “It was always about the kids for him. He loved being around teams and being around the kids, making them better players and better people.”
Dinneen was familiar at Bennett Rink, announcing goals, assists and, at the end of each period, saves for the goaltenders. He also announced youth hockey and all varieties of amateur baseball in town.
“He loved being with his family, with his wife (Maria Stevens),” former longtime Westies hockey coach Joe Morrell said, “but his second love was announcing. He’ll definitely be missed.”
Dinneen was a pipe coverer when he was younger, which was how and Morrell connected. Morrell said “Flyin’ Brian” came with him to West Haven from Notre Dame-West Haven in the late 1990s when Morrell took over at his alma mater.
We are sad to report the passing of Bennett Rink’s longtime PA announcer. And a huge supporter of West Haven athletics. @BrianDinneen You will be greatly missed. #flyinbrian pic.twitter.com/qIsfj4kOUG
— Bennett Rink (@bennettrink) June 20, 2020
“He was more a manager type (at Notre Dame). He had that special relationship with all the players,” Morrell said. “He was definitely a special guy.”
Dinneen was also always a help with computer issues, Morrell said. He was the chief technology officer at Southern New England Ear, Nose and Throat, his obituary said.
Dinneen’s wake is Wednesday, 4-7 p.m., at West Haven Funeral Home. His Mass of Christian Burial is Thursday morning at 11 at St. Louis Church.
Burr leaves his wife of 51 years, Mary Ann, “who cared for him and never left his side” as he battled cancer, his obituary said, as well as his children and four grandsons. Services will be private, but a memorial service will be held at some point in the future.