Robert T. Baker (Football Coach 1973-1982)
The longest tenured football coach at Manhattan College, Robert T. Baker began on campus as an assistant coach in 1973 and took over the helm the following year. Baker served as the head coach of the Jaspers' club football team until 1982 as he rebuilt the program and compiled 30 wins during his career.
Baker turned the Jaspers into a fierce team that competitors feared. Some of the more storied moments include Bart Gallagher's catch on the final play against Saint Peter's and Mike Conway running for 350 yards against Farleigh Dickinson. The Jasper team that had no real home field put itself on the national map. In the 1982 season, Manhattan earned the National Collegiate Football Association (NCFA) Atlantic Conference Championship and made their sole appearance in the National Club Championship game against undefeated Bentley. Baker was named NCFA Coach of the Year in both 1980 and 1982. Bob went on to coach at Pace University, serving as assistant, defensive and head coach for a total of nine years. He also worked as an assistant at local rival Fordham University.
Mark P. Connor '72
A transfer from Belmont Abbey College, Mark P. Connor '72 pitched for three seasons with the Jaspers before being recruited by the Minnesota Twins in 1971. During his time in Riverdale, Connor broke a strikeout record, taking down 20 batters in an extra innings duel against Columbia. Also known for pitching complete games, the right-hander maintained an ERA of 0.82 in 1971. His string of honors included selection to the St. John's University Centennial Tournament All Star Team, Manhattan's Most Valuable Player Award in 1971, and honorable mention from the NCAA NYC Metropolitan Conference All Star team and selection to the Outstanding College Athletes of America.
Connor began honing his coaching skills as an assistant under the Jaspers' coach, Dave Curran, while completing his degree. He pitched for the Minnesota Twins farm team, logging 57 strikeouts in 55 innings. When an injury derailed his pitching career, Connor continued to participate in the sport he loved as a coach. During his career he has coached at the University of Tennessee, both as an assistant and head coach. He also served as pitching coach for the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.
Rev. John F. Cullinane '51
Rev. John Cullinane '51 has brought his gentle, quiet influence to the courts and fields in Riverdale for decades. Known fondly by players and coaches as Father Jack, he can remember his first Manhattan College football game at the age of six, attending with his father, a 1924 graduate. He even traveled to Holy Cross to cheer on the Jaspers as a child, so it was only logical that he become a Jasper himself. Father Jack graduated from the college with a bachelor of business administration degree in 1951, but he never quite left his beloved Jaspers. By the 1960s, now a priest with the Brooklyn Archdiocese, Father Jack became a confidant to Hall of Fame coach, Jack Powers and has not left the hard wood since. The official team chaplain for a decade, he had as much influence without the title, being available to coaches and players throughout the tenures of Powers, Brian Mahoney, Gordon Chiesa, Tom Sullivan, Steve Lappas, Fran Fraschilla, John Leonard, Bobby Gonzalez and Barry Rohrssen.
Father Jack was considered the Jasper chaplain for all of athletics. He was especially active with the track and field teams and dedicated to the Spiked Shoe Club. He generously gave of his time celebrating special masses at the College and praying with teams before games big and small. Many special sports moments over the decades include Father Jack among the fans in attendance, both home and away, including the NCAA Tournament men's basketball victories.
James A. Gillcrist '51
James A. Gillcrist '51, a Bishop Loughlin graduate, was part of George Eastment's Track renaissance at Manhattan College. He competed in varsity shot put and high jump for four years. He came to Manhattan after already competing as a freshman at Swathmore College in 1945, where he was captain of the freshman team. Gillcrist also competed for the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1947, taking second place at the ICC's and 3rd place in the Penn Relays, both in the high jump. In 1947, he donned the Kelly green. Jim had numerous victories that year, including second place finishes in the high jump at the Metro Intercollegiate, IC4A and Seton Hall Relays, adding another second place finish at Seton Hall in the broad jump.
His wins continued to mount in 1950, placing in everything from dual meets against the likes of Army and Villanova to a second place in the high jump at the IC4As, which contributed to the Jaspers taking the championship. He also took first in the high jump and second in the broad jump at the Mets. The victory over West Point was especially sweet since no one had defeated them in a dual meet in eight years. Gillcrist finished his time at Manhattan as captain, a title rarely given to a field competitor on the team. That year, Manhattan won all New York State Intercollegiate meets that Gillcrist competed. He medaled in the high jump, broad jump and discus, jumping his personal best for Manhattan at the Boston Athletic Associations Indoor Games to take second place with a leap of six feet 4 1/8 inches.
Lori Graham '99
Originally a scholarship soccer recruit from Long Island, Lori Graham '99 started with women's lacrosse when it was still a club sport. She put big numbers in the record books for both teams. In soccer, Graham graduated with the lowest career goals against average (2.02) in team history, serving as starting goalkeeper for four years. Team captain, she also ranked 19th nationally in Division I with eight saves per game in 1998. Graham brought those skills to the sidelines, acting as assistant coach for the women's soccer team upon graduation.
Serving as captain of the lacrosse team for three years, Graham ranked second in assists while also standing first with 261 career points. In 1997, she finished second in the nation in goals per game with 4.31. As a senior, Graham earned the MAAC Player of the Year award. She was also a MAAC All Academic honoree.
Thomas Leder '61
A two-sport athlete, Thomas Leder '61 came to Manhattan College on a baseball scholarship and became lethal both on the mound and with his bat. Right from the start, it was evident that he would be an exciting pitcher to watch with a 10-0 shutout to his credit freshman year against now archrival St. John's. Shutouts became a habit for the right-hander under Hall of Fame coach Dave Curran. He rarely gave up a run, boasting an ERA of 1.35 during his sophomore year, while batting a solid .321. His honors in Riverdale included: All Star Team of the Metropolitan Collegiate Baseball Conference in 1959, Manhattan's Most Valuable Player Award and leading pitcher in the Met Conference in 1960 and honorable mention as a leading pitcher in the Met Conference in 1961. Recruited professionally throughout college, Leder decided to earn his degree first. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds upon graduation, pitching for manager Johnny Vandeer Meer's Tampa team. Tom continued to pitch shutouts at the professional level with an 1.60 ERA and a 6-1 record, earning a spot on the 1962 roster before an injury ended his baseball career.
Although baseball was considered Leder's strength, he managed to put up good numbers on the hardwood throughout his basketball career. Captain of the team in 1960-61, Leder shot over 50% from the field throughout his career and averaged more than six rebounds per game. One of the highlights was a 32-point game over St. John's as a freshman. Regularly scoring in double figures, Leder was a key to victory, especially when it came to archrivals. The Jaspers beat Fordham all three seasons Leder played. He also scored 19 points against Providence in the NIT in 1959.
Manny Silverio '80
A Fred Dwyer recruit from North Bergen High School, Manny Silverio '80 set the mark high for the 16 lb. hammer and 35 lb. weight throwers of the future at Manhattan College. He came to the College with a national record for hammer throw of 231 feet 11 inches, a record that would stand for 23 years on the high school level. At one time, Silverio was also the Manhattan College record holder in both the 35 lb. weight (64' ¾") and the hammer throw (212' 6"). He received NCAA All American honors in 1977. His freshman year included All East Team honors for the hammer throw and a Met Championship for the hammer with a meet record of 202 feet, 7 inches. Silverio rounded out the year with a second place finish at the IC4As. He did not let a sophomore knee injury stop his career, although it derailed much of the season.
Silverio came back strong in 1979-this time hitting the record books at the Mets for the 35 lb weight with a 62 foot, 10 inch toss. He also took the Mets in the hammer that year. The IC4A champion for hammer as a junior, Silverio received All East Honors in both weight categories. In 1980, he stayed strong, taking the Met in both categories again and setting a record for the hammer with his Jasper record throw of 212' 6". That toss crushed his own record by nearly ten feet and earned him an opportunity at the Olympic trials. He also earned All East honors for the hammer throw and placed third at the IC4As as he completed his Jasper career.
Kathleen McCarrick Weiden '79
When Kathleen McCarrick Weiden '79 came to Manhattan College after a successful high school basketball career at St. Catharine Academy in the Bronx. She became a leading force behind the creation of a women's basketball club, collecting recruits and sparking interest on campus. With enough faculty, administrator and student support she helped forge the Jaspers women's basketball team.
Within three years the Manhattan women's basketball team won the Hudson Valley League Women's Championship as the only non-scholarship team in the league competing against varsity squads. The College rewarded their efforts with varsity status for the next season.
1986 Women's Cross Country
The '86 Women's Cross Country Team became the first Manhattan College team to capture a MAAC Championship. The squad set school records that still stand today for the five-person (18:14.2) and seven-person (18:26.0) team average. These Lady Jaspers collected title after title that season. They won the Met Intercollegiate Championship, the Collegiate Track Conference Downstate NY Championship, and the Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship. They also won the Wagner College Invitational and the Commonwealth Invitational.
With a mid-season ranking of 4 in Region II, the Lady Jaspers set four meet records during the season. The team roster included: Christine Balvo '90; Lisa Donofrio '89; Sheila Donohue '87, co-captain; Gerry Fitzgerald '90; Kathy Giovanniello '87, co-captain; Deirdre Keyes '91; Tara McDevitt '90; Kathleen McVeigh '89; Donna Meyer '87; Laura Ann Nokland '90; Sue Prestipino; Tonja Rice '88; Cheryl Simon '88; Audra Thomson '89; and Edith Vilarde' 89.
This well-balanced team took turns taking headlines and contributing to the victories throughout the season, beating competitors from all the Jaspers' favorite rivals. They turned the Van Cortlandt Park course into their own stomping ground, under Coach Fred Dwyer's leadership, and paved the way for successful teams that would follow.