Manhattan College Inducts Eight Honorees To Athletic Hall Of Fame

Manhattan College held its 33rd annual Athletic Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Smith Auditorium, sponsored by the Manhattan College Alumni Society.

Manhattan College held its 33rd annual Athletic Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Smith Auditorium, sponsored by the Manhattan College Alumni Society. The eight honored inductees were: Robert Baker, football coach from 1973-1982; Mark Connor ’72, baseball; the Rev. John Cullinane ’51, chaplain for Manhattan College athletics; James Gillcrist ’51, track and field; Lori Graham ’99, soccer and lacrosse; Thomas Leder ’61, baseball and basketball; Manny Silverio ’80, track and field; Kathleen McCarrick Weiden ’79, basketball.

In addition, the 1986 women’s cross country team, which became the first Manhattan College team to capture a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championship, was honored at the ceremony.

The 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees were recognized for their tremendous hard work and commitment to Manhattan College’s athletic program.

Their accomplishments include:

  • Robert Baker, football coach from 1973-1982 – Baker is the longest tenured football coach at Manhattan College, remembered most for saving and rebuilding the program despite financial hurdles. He started as assistant coach in 1973 and took over the program the following year generously waiving his coaching salary for several years and personally purchasing some of the equipment for his players. During the 1982 season, the Jaspers won the National Collegiate Football Association (NCFA) Atlantic Conference Championship and made their sole appearance in the National Club Championship game against Bentley University. Baker was named NCFA Coach of the Year in both 1980 and 1982.

  • Mark Connor ’72, baseball – Connor pitched three seasons at Manhattan College on scholarship before being recruited by the Minnesota Twins in 1971. As a Jasper, Connor struck out 20 batters in extra innings against Columbia University, breaking the strikeout record and scoring the winning run of the game. He was named Manhattan’s Most Valuable Player in 1971, received an honorable mention from the NCAA NYC Metropolitan Conference All Star Team and was selected to the Outstanding College Athletes of America. After college, Connor pitched for the Twins farm team, throwing 57 strikeouts in 55 innings. Although an injury derailed his baseball career, he served as pitching coach for the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. 

  • The Rev. John Cullinane ’51, chaplain for Manhattan College athletics – Known fondly by players and coaches as Father Jack, Cullinane has been a lifelong supporter of Jasper athletics — from his childhood, to his time as a business student, to his tenure as the men’s basketball chaplain in the 1960s. Even without the official title, Cullinane, a priest with the Brooklyn Archdiocese, served as confidant to nine men’s basketball coaches and hundreds of players throughout the years. He was especially active with the track and field teams and the Spiked Shoe Club. Cullinane often celebrated special Masses at the College and prayed with teams before games. He still travels to Riverdale in support of the College.

  • James Gillcrist ’51, track and field – Gillcrist joined the Jaspers’ varsity shot put and varsity high jump rosters in 1947, finishing second in the high jump at the Metro Intercollegiate, Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) and Seton Hall Relays. In 1950, he took first place in the high jump and second in the broad jump at the Mets, defeating West Point in a dual meet — a feat no one had completed in eight years. Gillcrist spent his final year at Manhattan as captain and helped the Jaspers win all the New York State Intercollegiate meets in which he competed. He jumped a personal best for Manhattan at the Boston Athletic Association’s Indoor Games to take second place with a leap of 6 feet 4 1/8 inches. After graduation, Gillcrist competed with the U.S. Marine Corps, winning first place at the Penn Relays in the high jump, setting a Marine Corps high jump record and participating in the Armed Forces Olympic Trials. He is still listed in the Masters Athletics Track and Field All-time World Rankings as No. 2 in the world in the high jump.

  • Lori Graham ’99, soccer and lacrosse – Originally a scholarship soccer recruit, Graham also excelled at lacrosse when it was still a club sport at the College. As the soccer team captain and four-year starting goalkeeper, she graduated with the lowest career goals against average 2.02 in team history. She also ranked 19th nationally in Division I with eight saves per game in 1998. Serving as captain of the lacrosse team for three years, Graham ranked second in assists and scored 261 career points — still No. 1 on the Jasper leaderboard by more than 70 points. In 1997, she ranked second in the nation and first in the MAAC in goals per game. As a senior, Graham was recognized with All-MAAC team honors, MAAC All-academic honors and the MAAC Player of the Year award.  

  • Thomas Leder ’61, baseball and basketball – After a stellar high school career, Leder came to Manhattan College on a baseball scholarship and pitched a 10-0 shutout his freshman year against St. John’s University. Boasting a sophomore ERA of 1.35 and a batting average of .321, Leder was selected to the All-Star Team of the Metropolitan Collegiate Baseball Conference in 1959. He was named Manhattan’s Most Valuable Player and leading pitcher in the Met Conference in 1960 and earned an honorable mention as a leading pitcher in the Met Conference in 1961. Upon graduation, Leder signed with the Cincinnati Reds and pitched in the minor leagues in Tampa Bay, Fla. On the basketball court, Leder led the Jaspers as captain in 1960-61, shooting better than 50 percent from the field throughout his career and averaging more than six rebounds per game.

  • Manny Silverio ’80, track and field – Fresh off a high school career that included a national record for hammer throw, Silverio began to set more records at Manhattan College for the 35 pound weight and hammer throw. During his freshman year, he earned All-East team honors, a Met Championship and a second place finish at the IC4As. In 1979, he set a record at the Mets for the 35 pound weight and won the Mets and IC4As in the hammer throw, receiving All-East honors in both weight categories. When he was in his senior year, Silverio set a Jasper record for the hammer throw with 212 feet 6 inches, crushing his own record by nearly 10 feet and earning an opportunity at the Olympic Trials. 

  • Kathleen McCarrick Weiden ’79, basketball – Weiden was a driving force behind the creation of a women’s basketball club when she started at the newly coed Manhattan College. Collecting recruits for the Jasperettes, she managed to forge a team that won the Hudson Valley League Women’s Championship three years later. At the time, the Jasperettes were the only non-scholarship team in the league competing against varsity teams. The College rewarded the team with varsity status the following season.

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Top row, from left to right: James Gillcrist ’51; Thomas Leder ’61; Brennan O'Donnell, Ph.D., president of the College; Mike Quigley ’71 who accepted on behalf of Mark Connor ’72; Manny Silverio ’80; and Rev. John Cullinane ’51. Bottom row, from left to right: Robert Baker; Kathleen McCarrick Weiden ’79; Lori Graham ’99; and Lisa Toscano ’79; Hall of Fame Committee chair and associate professor of physical education and human performance.