When Mike Lonergan was introduced Monday as George Washington’s new men’s basketball coach, he got emotional talking about his late mother Maureen. She was his “first coach,” he said – and a legend at Bladensburg’s Elizabeth Seton High School, where she was also the athletic director.
But Lonergan’s dad Jack, who attended the swearing-in, had a fair amount of sports success himself. In fact, he got national attention in 1952 when he pitched a one-hitter for Holy Cross in the College World Series. Alas, he lost, 1-0, to Missouri on an error (after holding the Tigers hitless for 7 1/3 innings). He came back later in the tournament, though, to beat Penn State, and the Crusaders went on to win the title.
It’s quite a story. Holy Cross, you see, was coached by Jack Barry, an old-time baseballer who had played on four championship teams with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox (and was famous for getting spiked by Ty Cobb in the heat of the 1909 pennant race). Barry didn’t make a single substitution in that ’52 Series – not a pinch-hitter, not a pinch-runner, not a reliever. He stuck with the same eight position players and rotated three pitchers, each of whom went the distance in every game.
That’s right, he got through the tournament with 11 guys – one of whom was Mike Lonergan’s father (who the newspapers took to calling the “little southpaw”).
The Crusaders had to play seven games in six days, so it was tough on the three hurlers. Heck, in HC’s last three games, “Jackie” Lonergan, Ron Perry and Jim O’Neill all pitched on one day’s rest (the full nine innings, I’ll remind you). It was, indeed, a different era.
Anyway, now you know a little bit about Mike Lonergan’s old man – where the GW coach gets the other half of his genes. Obviously, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
(Much thanks to my old Massachusetts friend Omer Cormier, longtime sportswriter for the Gardner News and Worcester Telegram, who alerted me to this via email. “My wife and Mike’s mother, Maureen, were best of friends in Hartford, Ct., way back when,” he wrote. “We are godparents to Maggie, one of Mike’s sisters.” If you’re out there somewhere, Jack, Omer says hi.)