When I mentioned
to Frank Mastrandrea ’88, the College’s director
of athletic media relations, my notion of running a “Top
10 Holy Cross Athletes” list, his response was immediate
and blunt—“Are you out of your mind?”
“Bad idea?” I
Frank gave the bemused smile of one who has survived more
than his share of debates over things both athletic and
“You can’t win,” he counseled. “No matter how much you
research and weigh the choices, you’ll leave out a hundred worthy people.”
“But Frank,” I pleaded, “that’s the point of a top 10
list. To get people talking. To spur interest and memories. Lists like this are
subjective by nature. They’re pure entertainment.”
Frank shook his head at my naiveté.
“You know how passionate Holy Cross sports fans are,” he said. “And
there are a lot of issues involved here. Men’s sports have 150 years of
history to draw on. Women’s sports have only 25 years. How do we compensate
“A separate list for men and women athletes?” I ventured.
“Some people might find that patronizing,” he said. “And what
about the possibility that football and basketball players might swamp lesser
known—but equally talented— athletes in non-revenue sports?”
“You’re taking this too seriously,” I answered. “Our
alums will understand that a top 10 list is just an invitation to gab about Holy
He laughed and said, “Suit yourself. But I’m sending all the angry
phone calls your way.”
As I walked from the Field House back to the Hogan Center, I thought about Frank’s
warning and, no stranger to angry phone calls, decided to form a committee of
experts to assist us with our picks. So we called the dean of sports journalism,
our own Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson ’51 of The New York Times,
and asked if he’d help out. Dave obliged, along with fellow sports experts
Dan Shaughnessy ’75 of The Boston Globe, Bob Gamere ’62, former sportscaster
for WNAC-TV in Boston, and Maureen Milliken ’83 of The Manchester Union
Leader. You can still send your polite disagreements my way, however.
Alongside our experts’ top 10 list, we’ve provided an ancillary list
comprising ballot responses from you, the readers of our winter issue. And we’ve
printed the full list of inductees to the Varsity Club’s Hall of Fame.
We hope this gives a broad sampling of the men and women who have made Holy Cross
athletics such a heartfelt interest for so many alumni and friends over the years.
We anticipate disagreement. We anticipate protracted arguments. We anticipate—and
we welcome—letters reminding us of Holy Cross athletes we failed to mention.
In the past, our time-lines have proved a popular feature in the magazine, and
athletics seemed a perfect subject for such depiction. Perfect, that is, until
we began trying to make item choices from a history too rich and multifaceted
to fit into such limited space. We’ve chosen, therefore, a selection of
moments both memorable and forgotten, with an eye toward giving a sense of the
general evolution of athletics over the life of the College.
Finally, apologies are due Nancy McGinniss and Bill Wenthe. Nancy is the wife
of Joe McGinniss ’64, the subject of last issue’s cover story, and
she—along with several of Joe’s friends—wondered how we could
cover her husband’s life story without mentioning his wife, children or
grandchildren. (Nancy, if you can convince Joe to come back to Worcester to speak
to our students some night, dinner is on Holy Cross Magazine.) And, in an issue
dealing with Holy Cross writers, we certainly should have mentioned Bill Wenthe ’79,
whose book, Birds of Hoboken: Poems was published to acclaim a few years back
by Orchises Press.
Jack O’Connell ’81