Teachers, moms get nod too at Baltimore Catholic League Hall of Fame banquet

By Paul McMullen


Twitter: @ReviewMcMullen

ELLICOTT CITY – The occasion of National Teacher Appreciation Day and Mother’s Day on the horizon poignantly merged as themes May 3 at the Turf Valley Country Club, site of the fourth induction ceremony for the Baltimore Catholic League Hall of Fame.

The boys’ basketball league, which recently completed its 45th season, honored William Wells, an entrepreneurial coach; Jean Fugett, a trailblazing pathfinder; Pat Maggio, a contributor; and nine players.

More than 420 watched a video acceptance speech from Norman Black, the most accomplished basketball player in the bunch.

A 1975 graduate of the former Cardinal Gibbons School, Black had a stellar career at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, then played professionally for a decade in the Philippines, where he has coached in its pro leagues since the 1990s.

Black gave a shout out to the late Ray Mullis, his coach at Gibbons, and to his mother, Bessie Black, who accepted his Hall of Fame award in his absence.

“I want to thank my mom,” Black said, “who spent the money to send me to Gibbons.”

He was baptized at New All Saints in Liberty Heights, where his mother remains a parishioner. A retired educator, she taught in Baltimore City schools for six years, then spent nearly three decades training prospective teachers.

She needs two hands to count the number of trips she has made to her see her son in the Philippines, the most recent being a months-long stay that included Christmas 2015.

“It was wonderful,” Bessie Black said. “At first I was upset when he settled in the Philippines, that’s on the other side of the world, but I did say that the Lord would take care of him. God knows best, and Norman has done well. I’m proud of him.”

Bessie Black, a parishioner of New All Saints in Liberty Heights and a retired educator, accepted on behalf of her son, Norman, at the Baltimore Catholic League Hall of Fame banquet. He was in the Philippines, where he has been coaching since the 1990s. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff) 

Wells established the boys’ program at St. Frances Academy, and coached it to six of its record-setting seven BCL tournament titles. He thanked his family, elected officials and most notably the Oblate Sisters of Providence, who invited him to begin a scholastic program after he had established himself as an East Baltimore leader at the Madison Square rec program.

Three inductees played for Wells, James “Pop” Tubman, Calvert Hall, ‘82, and Danny Robinson, Towson Catholic, ‘91, at Madison Square; and Keon Chavez, St. Frances Academy, ‘75.

Chavez, the dean of students at Mergenthaler High in the city, got emotional talking about his grandmother, Constance Crum, and his father, Tony, who was murdered two weeks before his graduation from St. Frances.

Fugett ‘68 and Maggio ‘69 played for Gibbons before the formation of the BCL. The former was the first prominent black athlete at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The latter was the guard who got him the ball, and Maggio has been giving to BCL institutions as a teacher and coach ever since.

Loyola Blakefield religion teacher Pat Maggio, inducted into the Baltimore Catholic League Hall of Fame as a contributor, is shown with two of his seven siblings, Eileen Frazier, left and Liz Broderick. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

A religion teacher at Loyola Blakefield, Maggio talked of assisting Mullis at Gibbons, Gene Nieberlein at Mount St. Joseph, and the late Jerry Savage with the Dons, but traced his formation to his mother, who died in June 2014.

“My dad died when I was six,” said Maggio, who was raised at St. Agnes Parish in Catonsville, where his mother worked for 44 years. “I’m one of eight. When a friend of mine fell on hard times, she took in a boarder.”

Also inducted were Jeff Cross, Mount St. Joseph, ‘76; Paul Feeley, Loyola Blakefield, ‘71; Rodney Gibson, St. Maria Goretti, ‘01; Leroy Keller, Archbishop Curley, ‘80; and Derrick Snowden, Archbishop Spalding, ‘00.

The Baltimore Catholic League inducted 12 into its Hall of Fame May 3, from left: William Wells; Keon Chavez; Paul Feeley; Rodney Gibson ; Bessie Black, accepting on behalf of her son, Norman; Derrick Snowden; Leroy Keller; Pat Maggio; Jeff Cross, and Danny Robinson. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
The keynote speech was given by Phil Martelli, the winningest coach in the history of St. Joseph’s University. He talked about the “gospel of thank you,” which included the story of Tom Gallagher, his CYO coach at St. Philomena Parish in Lansdowne, Pa., who died before Martelli could properly say thanks.

Martelli played in the same St. Philomena school gym where Baltimore’s Feet for Francis pilgrims spent their final night on their week-long walk to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis last September.

“I beg you,” Martelli said. “There is one person you owe everything to. Go to them, look them dead in the eye and say, ‘thank you.’ The joy you see will be a gift you won’t forget.

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