Published: November 16, 2009 06:40 pm  

HALL OF FAME: St. Joe's to induct '09 class

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

KENMORE — St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute’s Alumni Association will honor some of the best athletes ever to don the Maroon and White during the 16th annual Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Friday at 7 p.m. at the Kenmore school, located at 845 Kenmore Ave.

This year’s inductees include the first player ever to play in a Division I ice hockey game with a prosthetic limb, the current Marauders baseball coach, and the driving force behind the creation of the Sports Hall of Fame.

The 2009 inductees are: Michael J. Diggins, Clarence “Bud” Smith ‘35, Dennis P. Riley ‘58, Thomas C. Toy Jr. ‘68, Rick “Rico” Mariano ‘70, Michael E. Ginal ‘96 and the members of the 1954 and 1955 Varsity 8 crew teams.

Tickets for the event are available at the door for $25. For more information, call the Institutional Advancement Office at 270-4113 or e-mail

Michael J. Diggins

One of the most successful coaches in St. Joe’s history, Diggins’ first coaching assignment was at Bishop Fallon and, in 1969, he began a 13-year stay at Bishop Turner. In 1982, Diggins began teaching at St. Joe’s and took over the cross-country team from the legendary Bob Ivory one year later. The program never missed a beat, racking up 16 regular season titles, 16 undefeated seasons, 16 All-Catholic crowns (including 13 consecutive), and 108 total wins during his tenure.

Teaming up initially with Jim Roland ‘69 and later with Matt Hellerer ‘75, Diggins guided the St. Joe’s track team to 13 regular season titles, with 12 undefeated seasons, and 15 All-Catholic championships. During his tenure at St. Joe’s, the track team ran to a 107-15 record. His cross-country squads at Bishop Turner and St. Joe’s were a combined 183-43 with 18 regular season titles and 17 All-Catholic championships. His track teams went 194-31 with 19 regular season championships and 20 All-Catholic titles.

Clarence “Bud” Smith ‘35

Smith’s exploits in the athletic arena would prove to be legendary for the St. Joe’s community. In his sophomore year of high school, Bud became a three-sport varsity star, quarterbacking the football team to a 4-2-1 record, leading the basketball team to an 11-5 mark and guiding the baseball club to 9-1. Smith played a major role in each of those successes.

During his junior year, Smith steered the St. Joe’s football team to a 6-1 record and the private school championship. A hard-hitting outfielder, Smith led the Marauders baseball club to a 16-0 record and the private school title. In his senior year, Smith concentrated solely on football, serving as a captain and guiding the gridders to their second consecutive private school title.

After graduating from St. Joe’s in 1935, Smith worked in local industry and learned the tool and die trade before moving to Massachusetts. There, he served the Navy at the Boston Navy Yard. When the war was won, Smith returned to Buffalo with his wife, Mary Margaret Hardy. Smith and a handful of neighborhood fathers started a grassroots organization whose efforts eventually led to the creation of the Grand Island Little League in 1955.

Dennis P. Riley ‘58

Dubbed “Dennis the Menace” by the Buffalo Courier Express, Riley excelled in basketball and baseball. On the basketball court Riley controlled the offense, set up plays and drove the lane. His all-around play led the Marauders to a regular season co-championship and a first team All-Catholic berth. As a junior on the baseball team, Riley pitched behind fellow St. Joe’s Sports Hall of Famer and future major leaguer Frank Kreutzer. Riley helped the Marauders to the Burke Division championship with a nine-strikeout performance against Bishop Ryan.

After graduating from St. Joe’s, Riley went on to Niagara University where he earned a degree in natural science. From there, he attended the Marquette University School of Dentistry in Milwaukee, where, in 1966, he graduated with a D.D.S. degree. Riley subsequently entered the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Department of Oral Surgery during the Vietnam War. Riley and his family then moved out to San Diego, where he joined an endodontic group, and taught two days a week at the University of Southern California’s Dental School. In 1973, he opened his first of five endodontics specialty locations, and retired from his practice in 2006.

Thomas C. Toy Jr. ‘68

Toy was known to all in the St. Joe’s community as one of the most consistently active board members who has ever worked with St. Joe’s Alumni Association. His affinity with St. Joe’s began in the early 1960’s, when his parents allowed him to take the entrance exam to St. Joe’s. Toy exceeded his parents’ expectations then, and remained one of the most loyal and active Marauders until his untimely death earlier this year. As an athlete, Toy was an integral member of the undefeated 1967 football team, ranked No. 1 in New York State, and the undefeated track teams of 1967 and 1968.

Still, it is what Toy did for St. Joe’s after his graduation that warrants his induction into the Sports Hall of Fame. As a member and former president of the St. Joe’s Alumni Association Board, Toy was the driving force behind the creation of the St. Joe’s Sports Hall of Fame, and served as its chairman since its 1994 inception. Additionally, Toy was one of the organizers for the St. Joe’s-Canisius post-football game party. As a result of his efforts, he was chosen as the St. Joe’s “Man of the Year” in 1990 and inducted into the school’s Signum Fidei Society in 2004.

In 1977, Toy opened his own business, La Hacienda Brighton Restaurant, in the Town of Tonawanda. Toy was known for his philanthropic efforts throughout the Buffalo area, including many years working with the Special Olympics. Each and every day he looked for ways to do nice things for people, from delivering food and organizing philanthropic events for the needy, to making monetary contributions for worthy causes.

Rick “Rico” Mariano ‘70

Mariano played one year of varsity basketball at St. Joe’s but it was his three years of varsity baseball where his star shined the brightest. Mariano was an integral part of the Marauders’ two consecutive Georgetown Cup championship teams. An outstanding third baseman, Mariano hit over .300 as a sophomore, earning him All-Catholic honorable mention honors. As a junior, he had a career year, hitting .435, notching six game-winning hits and leading the league in triples and RBIs. At season’s end, Mariano was named First Team All-Catholic. He was also selected as the team’s co-MVP with fellow Sports Hall of Famer Joe Scaffidi ‘69. After losing 10 players from the 1969 championship squad for his senior year, Mariano was asked to shoulder much of the responsibility as captain of the youthful team. He hit .390 and was 4-1 on the mound.

Mariano returned to St. Joe’s in 1991 as freshman baseball coach. In 1997, he became the varsity head coach. The Marauders won the regular season title in his first year and captured their first of two straight Georgetown Cups the following year. That 1999 team was ranked No. 1 in Western New York.

In his 13 years as head coach, St. Joe’s has won seven regular season titles and three Georgetown Cups with a winning percentage of .683. He is already the winningest baseball coach in St. Joe’s history and is tied with legendary coach Frank Schiavone with three Georgetown Cups.

Professionally, Mariano was a member of the Buffalo Police Department before retiring in 1991 with numerous awards for outstanding police work and heroism. Presently, Mariano is the owner of Bison Beverages in Cheektowaga, which he opened in 1996.

Michael E. Ginal ‘96

Ginal is a true inspiration for the physically challenged. Despite losing a leg to cancer at age 3, Ginal has overcome this challenge with phenomenal results. In his relentless determination to just be “one of the boys,” he became one of the most extraordinary high school athletes in Western New York. An avid golfer, Ginal was a four-year member of the St. Joe’s golf team, helping the Marauders to the league and All-Catholic championships in his freshman year. In 1995, he won the junior amputee golf championships of the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

By his senior year, he was captain of the St. Joe’s squad. Still, his first love has always been hockey. While recovering from his operation, Ginal watched several Buffalo Sabres games, and soon decided that he wanted to play. Within six months, he was learning to skate. By the time he started playing travel hockey, he was the team’s full-time netminder and helped the team to the state title. Ginal became the first freshman to ever earn a roster spot on the St. Joe’s Federation team. As a sophomore, he was the team’s starter, and earned the captaincy as a senior. All told, he won three Federation titles in his four-year career at St. Joe’s, which culminated with his nomination as the First Team goalie on the Federation All-Star Team.

After graduating from St. Joe’s, Ginal attended Harvard University, where he was a walk-on for the varsity hockey team as a freshman, and eventually became a three-year letterman. The first person ever to play in a Division I ice hockey game with a prosthetic limb, Ginal was also a founding team member and is a current member of the U.S. Amputee Ice Hockey Team. Ginal graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in History of Science, before earning his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Ginal is currently a marketing executive at Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co. in Seattle.

‘54-’55 Varsity Crew Teams

The 1954 and 1955 varsity 8 crew teams were an extremely talented group of rowers who will go down in history as two of the most successful teams ever to don the Maroon and White. The 1954 team registered the best schoolboy record in the West Side Rowing Club’s history up to that point. The 1954 Marauders won the U.S. National Championship in Worcester, Mass. The varsity eight of Jim Wynne, John McCormick, Bob Carroll, Jim McMullen, Justin Strunk, Paul Kurban, Dave Gillig, Larry Lauer and coxswain Joe Rotundo swept to the title by a length over Washington and Lee High School of Arlington, Va.

One week later, they became the first American school to win the team title at the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association Point Championships. They were also the first school to score a sweep of local honors by capturing the Princeton Cup for All-High Supremacy and the Fraunheim Trophy for Catholic schools.

With the return of Wynne, McMullen, Kurban, Lauer and coxswain Rotundo and the additions of John Robshaw, Norb Overfield, Phil Shalala and Dave Schank from the previous season’s junior varsity, the outlook was bright for the 1955 crew, which successfully defended their All-High titles.

Wynne and McMullen later teamed with three other members of the West Side Rowing Club to represent the United States in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia