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Former MLB Umpires Open Sports Bar in Shelton

A new sports bar & grille managed by the first brothers to umpire Major League Baseball opened in Stop & Shop plaza last month.

In what can only be described as perfect timing, Shelton officially welcomed Hirschbeck's Sports Bar & Grille to the community in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, the evening before Major League Baseball's Opening Day.

The new bar, located in plaza at 882 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton—a city that's widely known as birthplace and home of —is a family-owned operation from Mark and John Hirschbeck. They're the first brothers in MLB history to umpire at the same time.

Mark worked in the National League from 1987 to 1999, and both major leagues from 2000 until his retirement in 2003, while John worked in the American League from 1984 to 1999 and the major leagues through 2011, according to the baseball stat website Retrosheet.

Mark said he was particularly thankful for Tuesday's ceremony given his brother's ongoing battle with cancer.

"John recently went through chemotherapy so this opening means a lot to me and to him. We're so thankful. I wish he was here right now to be a part of this," Mark said.

Patrons and staff alike say much of the bar's appeal lies in its authenticity. "A lot has to do with people like Mark being a national umpire—being there, seeing things, having stories and real facts about what happened," said Joe Petrucelli shortly before the ribbon-cutting.

The Hirschbecks said they wanted to bring the meaning of a "real" sports bar to the area by adding three 80-inch TVs to the numerous other TVs throughout the restaurant so that missing a game is nearly impossible. And should you get bored with what's currently happening in the sports world, the restaurant walls are lined with signed jerseys and memorabilia, accumulated over 30 years from players and managers. In fact, the first thing you'll notice when walking into Hirschbeck's is the Yankees' home plate from 1984.

"We want it to be more like a museum," Mark Hirschbeck said. "We lived this and everything in here is collected from players I've dealt with. My idea for the future is that we put up pictures and plaques of local kids with their teams to promote high school sports from the Valley."

Jim Barrett, who has worked as a chef in the Valley for 35 years, said Hirschbeck's menu is "upscale bar food" with choices others in Shelton and surrounding towns don't always offer

"Our burgers are selling really well, that's been probably the most popular choice so far," Barrett said. "They are handmade, certified black angus beef and it makes a big difference."

Other menu items include New England clam chowder, rice pudding and shepherd's pie—all also made in-house.

"We want our cuisine to have some style and also be family-friendly so kids can get something they like, too," said Ray Ragaini, the bar's permittee.

Hirschbeck said Shelton was a natural location choice for setting up the business. "I grew up in Stratford and have been a Shelton resident for 14 years. I loved everything [Mayor Mark] Lauretti did for the city tax-wise, so we thought: What better place?"

Hirschbeck's Happy Hour is every weekday from 3 to 6 p.m., with $1.50 off all drinks. They also host weekly entertainment starting on Fridays with a DJ and local bands.

Susan April 05, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Sounds like a great addition to the eateries in Shelton. Thanks for the article!
christine April 06, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I heard his brother John owns a restaurant in Stratford that Mark has no part of, I wonder why!!!
A good friend April 07, 2012 at 08:34 AM
I was a good friend of mark for 20 years and would give the shirt off his back for me or anyone else . He fell on hard times with his career and his family life and made a real bad decision about his future......especially dumping the friends that would help him through these tough times The bar life is no where near the answer....everyone in a drinking envoi rent is a "friend" . That I have experienced myself.i can only hope he reads this and gives it thought because a true friend will always be there.. a phony won't. Good luck M.H. A good friend
Friend April 10, 2012 at 05:27 PM
It's sad that SOME people are stuck in the past and need to accept the fact that Mark Hirschbeck has moved on with his life and regardless of what some may think, he is qute capable of making decisions on his own. People should be happy for him and his new adventures rather then being hateful and trying to destroy him. Life to short!!!
robert morelli April 10, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Mark Good Luck in your new Sports Bar your friend Robert Morelli Derby<Ct-see you soon
Pete April 11, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Thinking that someone you knew to have a large family and long-time friends always around them-especially in "good times" like supposedly now-is "being stuck in the past"?? Wowza! you must be a member of the Brew Crew too!

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