Monday, January 4, 2010

Little Joe Tocci and the Dixie Classic

Hello to all you followers of the Joe Tocci Blog. Tim reporting today from State College with the latest Pap Pap update and in following the steps of my brother Joe, a little piece of history which today was provided by Lee Schisler who provided me an article, portions of which I will share later in this post.

Today was a long and tiring day for Joe. The Dr expects this trend to continue and his fatigue to get worse through his last 3 radiation treatments before it starts to get better. Some of his fatigue could be due to these treatments and we are hoping that he will get a little bit of energy back once the treatments end on Wednesday. More accurately, it will be a couple of weeks after the treatments are complete before we should hope to see some recovery of his stamina. For those of you who are so inclined, your prayers are encouraged and appreciated.

During the Occupational Therapists visit today I learned that Dad uses a towel bar to assist him in standing. This information made me realize that there are a few things that can be done to make the house a little safer for Dad. Unfortunately these enhancements require tools, which I was having trouble locating in Dad's house. Rumor is that Dad used to have an extensive tool box but brother Joe systematically depleted the collection on his visits over the years.

Reaching out to our local support group of the great friends Dad has here in State College, I asked Lee Schlisler if he had a drill. He was so kind to bring over to the house not only the drill, but an article for me to share with all of you from the Raleigh NC News and Observer dated December 30, 1949, where the Penn State basketball team was playing in the Dixie Classic.

Without further ado:

"Penn State Enters Finals, 46-41
That Pesky Guy, Again:
Lions Defeat Mountaineers

Little Joe Tocci and his big Penn State teammates last night advanced to the finals of the Dixie Classic against State's Wolfpack with a well-executed 46-41 victory over West Virginia in a real thriller played before 9,000 excited fans in the Coliseum.
Tocci, a five-foot seven-inch ball hawk and floor leader, provided the inspiration and the punch as the Nittany Lions eliminated their old-time rivals from the championship bracket of this colorful basketball tournament.
They Like Him
The crowd took the spectacular Tocci to its heart as he again was the most valuable man in a Penn State cast which has surprised the experts with its great game tournament play.
the little fellow broke the back of the rugged Mountaineers with his ball thefts and clever passing which set up the field goals which decided the issue.
The Lions, the last of the four intersectional teams to be invited to the first Dixie Classic, thus will throw their zone defense against State's Wolfpack tonight for the tourney title. Penn State defeated Duke 51-48 in the opening round with Tocci again providing the spark.
Lamie, a hard driver, broke the field goal famine for the Pennsylvanians with a pair of buckets. The first came after a sensational bit of work by the colorful Tocci, and the other was after a hard drive for the goal.
The Mountaineers managed to stay ahead until only a minute and 20 seconds remained in the period. Two spectacular baskets by Tocci put the Lions to within four points of the Mountaineers, and then Schisler, Lamie and Costa tied the score at 17-17.
Penn State, held to a 17 all half-time count by the favored West Virginians, was lead by forward Joe Tocci, at five-seven and weighing only 150 pounds, the smallest player in the tournament. He contributed nine vital points and some valuable floor play. "

And in another article on the same Dixie Classic Tournament:

"...Penn State turned to a little fellow with a big knack for leadership and outstanding play for its upset of the Mountaineers.
Pint-sized Joe Tocci, the tournament's smallest player, at 5-7, literally worked himself into exhaustion with a brand of play which swept the much l=bigger opponents off their collective feet.
Tocci scored nine points but that was far from his important contributions. His mere presence turned the tide for the Lions........Stealing the ball time and again and driving forth with blazing speed, Tocci had the Mountaineers reeling on the ropes when the final gun saw his club ahead by 46-41.
The little fellow was lost amid a forest of taller timber but managed always to fight his way clear. His passes were uncanny and at times even fooled his own mates. Along with Tocci as star was driving Lou Lamie whose 10 were high for the game winners,. Marty Costa, Lee Schisler, and Jack Storer utilized their tremendous heights in controlling rebounds."

As a side note to this article and this blog, that "pint-sized" "little fellow" was drafted into the NBA by the Minneapolis Lakers.

And finally, that "pint-sized" "little fellow" has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known and is the man that I most respect and admire in this world.


  1. Shame on Joey for taking dad's tools.

  2. I think I found some tools that don't belong in Belmont, MA.

  3. Lovin' the history!! And much inclined to prayer. I'm on it. Oh, and send Dad another squeeze from me. XOXO

    P.S. I assume he is front and central in the photo - #20, right? Look at his legs next to #7's - amazing!!

  4. Uncle Joe is a humble man -- he doesn't tell us of his athletic prowess or of his "colorful" maneuvers or of his leadership. Tho when we're lucky, we do hear a bit about his youthful escapades (such as his days of crashing weddings -- he noted that there was excellent and a bountiful amount of food to be had at Italian weddings). Of couse, one should assume Uncle Joe was an outstanding basketball player -- why else would a team have a 5'7" player?

    Thanks for the history and the excerpts.