By John Gearan '65
Buster Carroll, a denizen of an Irish enclave in Queens, loved his heritage, his family, his country passionately. He joined the Marines to fight in World War II. Stationed in Ireland, he fell in love and eloped — the Marines called it AWOL — marrying a colleen named Letitia Allen. His wedding gift: an immediate transfer to the Pacific without his bride.
After the war, Buster and Letitia settled into an 800-square-foot apartment in College Point where he took a job as a bus driver. His aspirations took a back seat to the family's needs as the Carrolls had four roughhouse boys to raise within tight quarters and a tighter budget.
Buster (few called him Herbert) was a die-hard Notre Dame fan, a loyal member of its famed football fraternity known as the "subway alumni." He knew everything about the Fighting Irish and the oft-exaggerated exploits of legends such as Knute Rockne, The Gipper and The Four Horsemen.
In the early '60s, his son Kevin, a member of Holy Cross' last all-male class of 1972, remembers he and his dad watching the Crusaders playing on TV — when the camera panned to a sideline shot of the coach.
"That's Eddie Anderson,'' Buster told his son. "The guy is a college head coach and a practicing doctor.
"Imagine that," his father wondered aloud. "How can anyone do that?"
Buster knew about the good doctor because Anderson had been a Notre Dame captain and All-American end under Rockne.
Kevin, a fine football safety and baseball outfielder at Holy Cross High in Flushing, N.Y., entered the College of the Holy Cross in 1968. As a walk-on, he played freshman football but was cut trying to make the varsity as a junior. In baseball, though, that year Carroll emerged as the Crusaders' starting right fielder.
"My senior season I fractured my elbow diving for a fly ball against Connecticut," Carroll recalls. "That was it.''
But his interest in Anderson was piqued again. "I learned a lot more about Doc while being taped up by our trainer, Jackie Scott," says Carroll.
Give Another Hoiah! continued >>