Introduction, Foreward, and Acknowledgments


A reputation for athletic prowess is as difficult to gain and as easily lost as any good reputation. But St. John’s bears its athletic reputation so lightly that many think it was achieved effortlessly and is sustained as easily as breathing. Scoreboard’s story of athletics at St. John’s reveals the real drama and excitement that make athletics here flourish and highlights the struggles that makes success so sweet. Perhaps even more important than capturing the drama of the achievement won, Scoreboard speaks to the quality of persons and of their participation that are at the heart of St. John’s athletic reputation. St. John’s has pursued excellence in as many activities as possible but always recognizing that the style in which we pursue it is as important as achieving success. This book speaks about the style of playing sports which we esteem, where there is truly teamwork and sharing. Scoreboard is, therefore, another witness to what St. John’s truly seeks to be: a community which experiences the beauty and exhilaration of living through sharing together.

Michael Blecker, O.S.B.
St. John’s University


Scoreboard, a history of athletics at St. John’s University from 1873 to 1978, originated in a letter in 1975 from Paul Mulready, ’50, suggesting that St. John’s establish a Hall of Fame honoring star athletes of our past. He had just participated in the conferring of such an honor at a Wisconsin college and was impressed with the widespread goodwill which resulted from the event. He asked if the sponsorship of such an undertaking might not be an ideal project for the St. John’s J-Club. The idea was discussed in the October, 1975 meeting of the J-Club Board of Directors, and although the members showed general approval of extending some sort of recognition to great athletes of the past, they chose at this time to name a committee of active J-Club members to make a further study of the proposal and report to a meeting of the entire membership for November 15, 1975. In its report to the membership at this meeting, the members of the committee expressed the view that it is not in the tradition of St. John’s to single out individuals for special recognition, but rather to emphasize the team and community aspects of athletics as well as other endeavors. The committee therefore suggested that a history of sports from the 1870’s to the 1970’s would emphasize the group effort these activities entailed and would include not only the stars but also lesser lights without whose aid the stars would not have shone so brilliantly. According to the St. John’s tradition, the star athlete, though always recognized and admired for his superior talents, has always been considered more as a member of the team than as an individual performer. Both players and supporters on the sidelines realize that more often than not the brilliant performance of the star was made possible by a timely block by a relatively obscure lineman which opened the way to a brilliant run. What is more, in an anti-elite atmosphere such as prevails at St. John’s, the star player himself takes the same attitude that the opportunities in any sport are innumerable for the inconspicuous “average” player to win games without ever getting into the headlines. Thus most of the heroics of the anonymous athlete pass unnoticed or are forgotten, the only evidence of his existence being the inclusion of his name on the team’s roster.

Anyone who has followed athletics at St. John’s is aware that a healthy generous attitude towards sports has always prevailed on the campus and among the students. The glory of the team or the university, combined with the sheer enjoyment of companionship in play, have been the all-sufficient reward of athletic competition. It was in recognition of this typical campus attitude that the authors, both letter winners themselves in the distant past, have written this history commemorating the teams of St. John’s athletic history.


In writing Scoreboard the authors made liberal use of available St. John’s publications such as the St. John’s University catalogs that first began appearing in 1870: the Record, 1888-1978; the yearbook, the Sagatagan, 1920-1978.Very helpful were the records of former Director of Athletics, George Durenberger, with lists of players and results of almost all intercollegiate activities of the past. Jim Smith’s scrapbooks of all sports from 1971-72 to 1974-75, and the scrapbooks of football coach and current Athletic Director, John Gagliardi. Joseph Benda, Jr., graciously loaned to St. John’s the scrapbooks of his father, former football coach, Joseph Benda, Sr.

Publications which were useful for background information were Fr. Alexius Hoffmann’s “History of St. John’s University” (1907), in the form of annals which furnished an admirable example of the value of a chronological year-by-year treatment of historical events. Also helpful for references to athletics in the past history of St. John’s was Fr. Colman Barry’s Worship and Work (1956).

It was the good fortune of the authors to have the assistance of newly appointed archivist, Fr. Vincent Tegeder, O.S.B., and his assistant, Mr. Stewart Hansen, for collections of newspaper clippings of the early 1900’s, as well as their collections of photographs for illustrations of early athletics at St. John’s. The authors also made extensive use of the files of clippings, seasonal previews, and photographs of the Public Information Services headed by Messrs. Lee Hanley and Thorn Woodward. Special thanks are due to Dr. Merrill Jarchow of Carleton College, the author of Carleton, the First Century, whose xeroxed copies from the Carletonian enabled us to unearth the fact of St. John’s membership in the Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference from 1914 to 1920, when St. John’s joined the newly founded Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).

In expressing their thanks for interviews, the writers are grateful to former Coach and Director of Athletics, George Durenberger, Coaches John Gagliardi and Jim Smith, who gave generously of their time furnishing background materials to enliven certain periods that might otherwise have been barren of human interest. They also wish to thank Fr. Otto Weber, O.S.B., Director of the Physical Plant and Intramurals, and David Grovum, ’77, all-conference center and member of the national championship team of 1976, for information on wrestling and the brilliant career of former wrestling coach Terry Haws.

Great credit is also due to the younger and part-time coaches who, in the absence of game reports in the Record, furnished missing information through interviews and written summaries: Greg Miller, wrestling; John Grobe, tennis; Dave Lyndgaard, cross-country; Michael Bauer, track; Pat Haws, golf and swimming; Jerry Haugen, baseball. Thanks are due also to John Forsythe for an enlightening sketch of rugby at St. John’s, parts of which are quoted in the chapter on rugby. For the years 1977 and 1978 in rugby, student captains Rick Robel and Rick Battiola furnished much of the information. Thomas Haeg, ’70, wrote the chapter on hockey.

Lastly, to Fr. Roger Schoenbechler, O.S.B., we owe the title of this book, suggested by the one thing all sports have in common, Scoreboards.