Enduring dynasty

Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame to welcome CBA football team of the 1950s
By luke eggleston / SUN staff writer

Christian Brothers Academy’s representation in the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame will more than double next year at its induction ceremony at Drumlins Oct. 22.

Nearly 20 members of the hall of fame represent CBA between the coaches that have been associated with the school and the athletes who have graduated from it. Now the hall will welcome CBA’s undefeated football teams from 1951 through 1953.

The hall of fame held a press conference Aug. 6 at the Kia Legacy Dealership in East Syracuse to announce its new team inductee.

With five state championships and numerous Section 3 titles, CBA boasts a long tradition of athletic success stretching back to the decades immediately following its foundation by the La Sallian Christian Brothers in 1900, particularly in football and basketball but also, in recent years, other sports.

The team of the early 1950s went undefeated throughout 1951 and toppled Solvay 13-6 in the “City-County Championship” (the win streak predated the sectional tournament as well as the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association tournament).

Leonard Basile, who attends St. Mary of the Lake in Skaneateles, was among the CBA teammates present at the announcement. Basile said that after the win over Solvay, Onondaga County schools located outside of the Syracuse city limits refused to play the Brothers.

CBA conceded just one touchdown in two seasons and in 1953, Basile’s senior year, the team shut out each of its opponents while it amassed 196 points in six games.

Basile went on to play college football at Fordham.

Chuck Zimmerman was inducted into the Syracuse Hall of Fame for his individual achievements in 1996. He played quarterback on the CBA football team from 1951 to 1953. In addition, he was an all-city basketball team selection and a member of a city champion baseball team. After graduating from high school, Zimmerman was the starting quarterback at Syracuse University from 1956 to 1958 and was an all-American his senior year.

Zimmerman said that he appreciated seeing the efforts of the entire team recognized by the hall.

“I think it’s an honor for the team and for CBA to be recognized for that era,” said Zimmerman, whose home parish is St. Rose of Lima in North Syracuse. “As you get farther removed after a time you tend to focus more on current teams. So looking back at the records that we had back in those days, I think it’s an honor for the school and an honor for the guys that played back then.”

The team members who attended the announcement were Len Basile, Dick Capone, Peter Monteleone, Joe Rodriguez and Tom Dotterer. Several CBA administrators and hall of fame officials also attended the event.

Pat Donnelly, who coaches varsity boys basketball at his alma mater, Bishop Ludden, is also the president of the hall of fame. He noted that this is just the second team inductee the hall has welcomed. Last year, the hall honored its first team, the 1967 LaFayette lacrosse team. According to Donnelly, the new feature was originally intended to honor specific teams. The length of CBA’s win streak challenged the parameters of the new feature.

“It was designed for a single team. With this year they had a hard time because the win streak with CBA football was three undefeated years,” Donnelly said. “They wanted to honor the entire program and its success those three years. We’ll take a look back next year and see if we can find a team that we can open up the door to dynasties too. It’s a nice honor.”

Donnelly said that the team feature gives the hall of fame induction dinner a little variety and gives it a little more flavor.

“It was one of those things where we looked around and we saw the hall of fame class and it was one of those things that we had talked about for a long time,”  he said. “There are a lot of great teams out there that maybe don’t have any individual stars or hall-of-famers but as a cohesive unit they should be honored. It’s a nice edition to the dinner it gets more people in town and it’s a nice reunion for some of these teams and it’s nice to honor these teams for some of their accomplishments.”

Zimmerman noted that the camaraderie that helped forge three undefeated seasons persists to this day.

“I don’t think it’s changed much to this day. We were close then and I think that’s what made us such a good team,” Zimmerman said. “I think the school itself — the spirit of the school — implanted that in all of the kids that went there and in particular all of the sports teams that played there at CBA.”

The hall of fame is also inducting several individuals this year including long time Cicero-North Syracuse athletic director, teacher and coach Dick Bader, former Central High School basketball coach Dave Brodsky, longtime voice of the Orange and current general manager for Time Warner Sports Doug Logan, speed skater Patricia McCarthy, former Solvay High School coach Al Merola and Central New York golfer Jim Roy.

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