There’s a tang of the sixties in that rallying cry of the hardwood and for good reason: it was last heard echoing from Montgomery Street’s Jersey City Armory and–from across the river–Madison Square Garden in a season of glory, 1967-68. That was the year the Armory’s home team, tiny, nearby Saint Peter’s College, squared off against the Duke Blue Devils in a legendary postseason contest. It was a rout, naturally: in the quarterfinals of the NIT—at a time when that tournament still meant enough to attract Duke–the Peacocks ran, baby: they ran the Blue Devils right off the “new” Garden’s resplendent court, 100-71.
The following night the Peacocks lost in the semis to Kansas: like I said, the NIT really meant something in those days (and surely still does for invited teams).
For decades a metallic peacock was proudly displayed on the living room wall of my Aunt Joan and Uncle Jim’s N. Central Jersey home. Not long after my uncle Jim died tragically, Saint Peter’s College named its community service award in his honor. I was later honored to serve as the Will Durant Visiting Professor at SPC, and Dr. Chew is now in her sixth year of teaching Latin and Greek there (and shortly en route to Greece with a lively contingent of SPC students).
Saint Peter’s is the unofficial yet undeniably genuine college of the Irish Waterfront, and we dearly love the place. It is a very special occasion indeed when Charlie accompanies Dr. Chew, our wonderful pal Hal, and me to a Saint Peter’s ballgame at the Yanitelli Center. Every time we go we see the same faithful faculty friends and adminstrators perched in the same courtside seats: from Bill—longtime former A.D. who was the hero of my parochial school basketball coaches—to David to Joe to Gene; and in the old days the late Jim Loughran, S.J, a professed ‘gym rat’ and long-suffering fan.
Charlie and Dr. Chew and Hal and I saw the Peacocks lose a heartbreaker in overtime to a bruising Fairfield squad just a few weeks ago. But then this past Sunday, playing on the Stags’ home court in the semis of the MAAC tournament, the Peacocks ran, baby, they ran off to a 40-15 halftime lead; then held off a frenzied comeback to win going away.
Then, on this memorable Monday night, the Peacocks ran to an early lead, then turned to a stout defense and never trailed against the favored Iona Gaels. Bring on those (non-Amboy) Dukes: the Peacocks are headed to the big tourney. You heard it here before you’ll hear it from old-school Jersey guys Dick Vitale or Digger Phelps: Run, Baby, Run!