Editor’s note: Today’s Norwich Sports Hall of Fame article was researched and written by Pete Smith, a 1963 Norwich High School graduate. This is the second of eight weekly articles profiling the 2011 induction class. The ceremony for these athletes is Saturday, June 18 at Canasawacta Country Club. For more information about the banquet, contact the Norwich High School Athletics office.
Imagine a survey done among ten people who have known Salvatore Mirabito for most of his life. They would be asked to share two memories of Toots.
One would remember that he has an older brother, Frank, who is known as King Kong and has thirteen children. One would recall that Toots had a long successful career as a school administrator at Floral Park Memorial High School on Long Island. Another one could have an interesting story about how his dad, also named Salvatore, would salvage hoses discarded from O&W freight cars to repair the shoes for Toots and his siblings. The fact that Toots’s younger brother, Fred, was a popular mayor of Norwich would be mentioned by one.
Another might recall that Toots and his fellow NHS running back, Bunky Morris, matriculated at Manlius Military Academy and Syracuse University together – in fact, they insisted on being accepted as a package deal. The family’s chicken coop might be mentioned by one. One probably would recollect another of the older siblings, “Big Jim,” who owned and operated the Ontario Hotel for decades. One, no doubt, would talk about Toots’s grandsons who played quarterback for the Chenango Forks football team, and, even more significantly, went on to play Division I college lacrosse for Navy and Georgetown. Another would recall that older brothers Joe, Frank and Jim all dropped out of school to help feed the family when the family needed more income. Finally, the story of being an undefeated boxer for Syracuse University would be told.
But, all ten would certainly share their belief that Salvatore “Toots” Mirabito was the heart and soul of the 1937 “Dream Team,” Norwich High School’s undefeated, untied and unscored-upon football team.