Notes from Induction Night
James O'Connell played on Tom Ballaban's first basketball team in 1951 52. A graduate of the class of 1952, he played basketball for four years, varsity for 3 and was captain both his junior and senior years earning all city honors both years. The leading scorer in his senior year he averaged nearly 25 points per game as he led St. X to an 18 5 record, the GCL championship and the district semi finals. He also made honorable mention all state.
He moved on to XU where he played on the freshman team for a couple of young graduate assistants by the name of Dick Berning and Jim Bunning. Although his college career was hampered by injuries, under Ned Wulk he started as a sophomore and played in the NIT.
After graduating from XU he went into education and the coaching profession. He coached for three years in Kentucky and eventually ended up at Milford where during his six year career, he won over a 100 games. He gave up coaching for administration and just recently retired as a long time principal in that district. O'Connell holds the distinction of being the first athlete from the decade of the 50's to enter the hall of fame.
Thomas Rhoads is a graduate of the class of 1963 and personified the scholar athlete that St. X. is so justifiably proud of. An excellent student, he was a four year football player who is best remembered as a defensive tackle. Although his teams were not outstanding, he was. In 1962, his senior year, his tremendous play was earned him 1st team All GCL, All City, All Southwest Ohio honors, and 2nd team all state. He also was named the winner of the first "That's My Boy" Award which was awarded to the local high school athlete who embodied the best aspects of the scholar athlete and citizenship.
Rhoads then attended Notre Dame where he continued his stellar play and also enjoyed playing on stellar teams with such luminaries as, Terry Hanratty, Rocky Bleier, Jim Lynch and Jim Seymour. As a defensive end, he started his junior and senior years and help anchor the defensive line of the 1966 National Champions which played the famous 10 10 tie with Michigan State. His play earned him honorable mention All America and his unselfishness in taking on entire offensive lines allowed Allan Page to grab the glory and go on to a Hall of Fame Career. A third round draft choice, he played briefly with the Buffalo Bills and was traded to the Bengals where his pro career came to an end when he followed Paul Brown's advice and began seeking his life's work.
Today he lives with his wife and three children in Hilton Head S.C. and his son is a freshman footballer at Duke. It is fitting that he enters on the night that his coach Tom Ballaban is our featured speaker, since he was one of Tom's best defensive players.
Jack Thobe is a graduate of the class of 1958. He played football only as a freshman despite the fact that he was a solid 6 foot 8. However he did play basketball for four years and he played it very well. Starting at center from his sophomore year on, he set St. X season and career scoring records and still holds the single game scoring mark. He was All GCL and All City two years, the team MVP and second team All Ohio his senior year. He would have been 1st team All State except for a contemporary of his from Middletown by the name of Jerry Lucas. He is perhaps best known for his starring role on the 1958 team which won 23 games in a row and was, until the 1965 state runner up, the best team this school ever produced. Led by this man they swept through the regular season not only without a defeat, but experienced only two games where they won by less than 10 points. So powerful were they that opposing teams were forced to stall to keep it close. They normally won by scores of 72 46. They blew through the district experiencing their only close game of the season, beating Bacon by 4 and winning the title against Taft 73 48. Moving on to the regionals, they were one game away from meeting Middletown and Jerry Lucas in a battle of undefeated teams when they got caught looking ahead and lost to Dayton Fairview.
After graduating from X he went on to Xavier where he was a standout player for 3 years for Jim McCafferty. He was a starter on the first XU team to go to NCAA. After he graduated he was drafted by the NBA and the original ABA, but because he wanted a stable career, played AAU basketball with the Goodyear team, the company with whom he is still employed. Today he lives in Southern California with his wife and 5 children, one of whom (his daughter) is a professional golfer and a son who is a professional baseball player in the Cubs orginization. Without argument this man is still one of five best basketball players in this school's history.