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From Cleveland Magazine, October 1993
They hold elected offices by the dozens, populate law firms by the hundreds. They are the CEOs and the judges, the behind-the-scene powerbrokers and the in-your-face deal makers. They come of age in a rarefied environment of free-flowing machismo and testosterone, where for four years, religious faith, tough academics and competitive fervor are stressed in equal measure, fortified by discipline and steeped in the belief that they are, indeed, the chosen.
A lot of them follow their fathers or siblings, to be followed by their siblings and, God willing, their sons. They graduate, but a part of them never really leaves. Those four years forge a loyalty so indelibly engraved that well into adulthood they still readily and enthusiastically identify themselves as staunch supporters of their school. High school, that is.
They are the graduates of two all-boy West Side Catholic high schools St. Edward (commonly called St. Ed's) on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood and St. Ignatius on West 30th Street in Cleveland. Even a cursory review of the men of leadership and influence in the Cleveland area reveals an inordinate number of them graduated from these two schools. They're easy to find, too. Just locate one alumnus, and he'll name a dozen more, most of whom he's just had lunch with or whose kid he just hired or with whom he only recently co-chaired a high school fund-raising event.
And to get an appreciation for the longstanding rivalry between the two schools, just utter these two words: James Kubacki.
Kubacki is the recently hired principal of St. Ed's and a 1973 graduate of St. Ignatius. Alumni from both schools enjoyed pointing this out for differencet reasons, of course.
St. Ed's grads argue that Kubacki is a St. Ignatius guy who knew where to go when he was ready for the big time. Get real, respond St. Ignatius grads. When it came to finding the best man for the job, they counter, St. Ed's knew where to turn. As for Kubacki, well, he tends to sigh a lot when asked how it is that he could have ended up at St. Ed's.First, he explains that after he graduated from Harvard, he went to work for Princeton.
Ohhh-Kay. In other words, turncoating is a career?
A laugh. Not a big one, though. And then he sighs again.
"I just keep reminding myself of what a retired priest said to me after I accepted this position: just remember two schools, same God.When it comes to discussing the rivalry between St. Ed's and St. Ignatius, there are essentially two schools of thought. One is advanced by the schools' graduates, the other by the schools themselves. First, the schools.
St. Ed's official response to the question on rivalry was essentially: Rivalry? What rivalry?
"Well, there's a wholesome rivalry," says Butler.
When asked to distinguish between plain old run-of-the-mill rivalry he chuckles a little and says: "We're all Catholic. Remember that. How different can we be?"
Before hanging up, he adds, "You knew Phil Donahue went here, didn't you?"
St. Ignatius'official spokesperson is Shirley Branyi, the only person in this story without a graduation date following her name because, as we all might have guessed by now, Shirley was a girl in high school (now a woman) and therefore couldn't go to either of these schools. As director of public relations for St. Ignatius, Branyi's response to the question about rivalry depended on which day you asked.
Yes, she initially agreed, there is "quite a rivalry" between the schools, and she seemed fairly receptive to providing some names of high-profile graduates. Until the next day, that is. "We don't want to fuel the rivalry," she said. "We choose not to participate."
St. Ignatius grads, though, would have none of that. One came up with his own list of high-powered alumni. He was soon followed by several other like-minded graduates, two of whom expressed frustration that their school was being so unhelpful. Still another offered his coveted St. Ignatius alumni directory. So the next time Branyi called, we told her not to worry. We got the names anyway.
"How did you get them?" she asked. We explained we could not tell her that. "I have some concern over just which names you're using," she added, "since they didn't come from us."
Later we learned that St. Ignatius' Branyi called St. Ed's Butler demanding to know whether St. Ed's had given us St. Ignatius' alumni list.
Not that there's any rivalry.
"There's always been a healthy competition between the two schools," says Dennis Clough (St. Ed's, '72), mayor of Westlake. "They are both West Side schools and the only all-male schools there. I get into it with a couple of councilmen here who are St. Ignatius grads, but it's all in fun. It doesn't take much to get it going."
Oh, and one more thing: "Did you know Phil Donahue went to Ed's?"
"It's a friendly rivalry," says St. Ignatius grad Mike Gavin ('77), who was director of alumni relations there for the last five years until he took a position on the faculty this fall. "We need them [St. Ed's] because so many Catholic schools are closing."
But then Gavin mentions that he played football for Ignatius. Does he remember any games against St. Ed's?
"Yea, yea, I sure do," he says. "My senior year I was a defensive end. They were beating up on us pretty bad. One minute, 25 seconds left in the game, and they scored a safety and beat us by two points. Two points!"
When asked if he remembers the temperature that night, he finally laughs at himself. "I guess I've got a long memory. That rivalry is definitely there."
"It does come up," says Ed Boyle (St. Ed's, '65), mayor of North Olmsted. "We've got some St. Ignatius guys on staff here, and we kid each other a lot. I remember a bunch of us were at a golf outing, and my caddy was a St. Ignatius kid. I said that was the only caddy I'd ever had from Ignatius, and it was an appropriate spot for him."
He laughs then and adds, "You know, Phil Donahue went to St. Ed's."
Okay, lets get this over with. Yes, introduced the school in his 1979 autobiography titled, of all things, "Donahue": "[St. Ed's] was founded in 1949 just in time for Philly [his childhood nickname], who did not have the scholarship to attend the more prestigious and more challenging Jesuit high school, St. Ignatius."
Now there's a plug for your school if you happen to be from St. Ignatius.
Ed Boyle gets the last word on Donahue though. Seems that last July at the class's 30th reunion, Donahue showed up with his wife, Marlo Thomas, who gushed to Boyle's brother, Tom, that it was so good to finally confirm that her hubby did indeed throw the touchdown pass in his senior year to beat St. Ignatius. "My brother said, 'But did he tell you that I was the one who caught the pass, and that I was the one who kicked the extra point to actually win the game?' He hadn't, of course. It was pretty funny."
While both schools are indeed all-male and Catholic, there are some obvious differences. St. Ignatius was founded in 1886 and is run by The Society of Jesus, commonly known as Jesuits. St. Ed's is much younger, being founded in 1949 and run by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. St. Ignatius is also larger, with its current enrollment at 1,330, compared to St. Ed's 854. Tuition at St. Ignatius is $4,800; at St. Ed's it's $4,000.
Both see a high percentage of their graduating seniors off to college. For St. Ed's, the numbers have been 85 to 93 percent over the last 10 years; St. Ignatius has an even higher average of about 97 percent in 1989, the entire graduating class went to college. In the last 10 years, St. Ignatius has had 145 St. Ignatius in terms of enrollment, has managed to chum out 105.
Because of its youth, St. Ed's was not much of a rival for St. Ignatius early on. That doesn't deter older St. Ignatius grads from engaging in spirited rivalry now, particularly when several from each school are cooped up on the same floor of offices as they are at the investment firm McDonald and Company Securities, Inc. Twelve members of management, including senior managing director John O'Brien ('54) and first vice president of corporate communications Richard Clark ('67), are St. Ed's grads. Ten others, including company chairman Thomas O'Donnell ('54), are from St. Ignatius.
The firm has advertised these alums in full-page magazine ads displaying their high school graduation photos. Most recently, the firm ran a St. Ignatius ad in Corporate Cleveland as part of a special section on the school. Clark, who was responsible for placing the ad (and is a St. Ed's guy, remember?), says that none of the men knew in advance about the decision to use their high school photos and that some "fared better than others," particularly in the hair category. Those who suffered the most, he says, fell into the 1975 to 1985 period. "Let me tell you what I told one of them," says Clark, chuckling. "'The Vinnie Barbarino look might come back, but let's hope not.'"
O'Donnell soon joins us on another phone line to set a time for him to discuss his alma mater, and he stresses in a serious voice that there is no rivalry between the two schools. "You want us to bash each other, but that's not going to happen." He pauses, then adds, "The only thing wrong with St. Ed's is Richard."
"See? There he goes," says Clark, laughing as he hangs up.
O'Brien, an earlier graduate of St. Ed's, offers some perspective on the schools' rivalry. "We had a strong sense of pride at having gone to St. Ed's. We were new, we got our hat handed to us in football, and both schools were drawing from the same area for students. Everyone knew one another."
And there are some St. Ed's grads who say their school has come late to the game of self-promotion. "St. Ignatius grads are obnoxious, but I sort of envy their obnoxiousness," says Kevin Byrnes ('67), vice president of public relations for the Cleveland Browns. "Ed's alumni, only in recent years, decided to become more vocal because they had to. The school was fat and sassy for years. They didn't really need the money then. Now they do, and they're starting to really involve the alumni. And the rivalry really adds a lot to lunchtime and dinnertime conversations. I'll ask guys where they went to high school, and if it's St. Ignatius I enjoy saying, 'Oh you couldn't get into Ed's, eh?'"
Byrnes assures us he's not alone. "I'll bet you there are plenty of guys who still have that one tie they wore all through high school hanging in the back of their closets."
Might he be one of them?
"Well, until recently I did have mine, yes. But one day it just seemed to disappear. It was a madras tie."
Madras? As in plaid?
"Madras," he says. "As in the '60s.
At the top of that list are the politicians from both schools. Check out the campaign literature of many local Catholics, and if they went to St. Ed's or St. Ignatius, it's bound to show up on the brochure.
"I do it," says North Olmsted Mayor Ed Boyle. "Cleveland is a heavily Roman Catholic town. When your educational background is asked for in political literature, if you went to St. Ed's or St. Ignatius, you start there. There's a lot of pride in having gone there. And voters respect it."
If it seems as though these are a bunch of guys confusing high school with college, it may be because, for a lot of them, the rigors of Catholic education at St. Ed's and St. Ignatius impacted them profoundly. In fact, for all the enthusiastic joking about rivalries, what most men interviewed wanted to talk about was how attending these schools affected their lives.
"I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't gone to St. Ignatius," says John Lane ('72), a partner at Price Waterhouse. "The Jesuits and teachers kicked your behind. They taught you how to study, how to prepare for college. My most memorable experience at St. Ignatius was coming out of the SATs with a classmate and, in discussing the questions, he suddenly blurted out, 'Damn, I made a mistake.' The guy ended up getting a 1590."
Lane says he also remembers that, contrary to the stereotype of Catholic education, he was challenged by the Jesuits to question everything. "The Jesuits almost pushed you the other way. They got you to question your faith, not just blindly follow." He then recalls one example of particularly vigorous questioning by students.
"A Cleveland city councilman came to speak, and it wasn't long before students started really challenging him. His answers were terrible, and we all walked out of there saying, 'This guy doesn't know what he's talking about.' He ended up becoming mayor and proving us right. His name was Dennis Kucinich."
Going to St. Ed's, says the Cleveland Browns' Byrne, "influenced the direction of my life. I transferred to St. Ed's when my family moved, and my family ended up having financial difficulties, so I had to quit football to take a job to pay my tuition. I was humiliated, and I guess I wore that shame on my sleeve because Brother Williams came up to me and asked me what was wrong. When I told him, he immediately asked, 'Why don't you write about sports for the school paper?'" He also suggested Byrne go out for wrestling later in the year. Byrne took his advice on both counts and went on to wrestle through four years of college.
Ed Boyle remembers feeling like he belonged to one huge Catholic family at St. Ed's a family that not only learned and played together, but also grieved together.
"I remember very well the day Kennedy was shot," he says. "He had stopped here at the school once, and we'd done what I'm sure 100 other Catholic schools had done before, which was present him with a football the touch foot ball thing, you know? He was such a big deal to us, being Catholic and president. When he died, they called us all into the gym, and I remember how quiet it was after they told us. Kids, teachers were crying. It hit us so hard. We all felt it. We'd lost one of our own.
Both schools emphasize stewardship, and many of the graduates say they continue to give back to their schools as a result. Dick Zunt (St. Ignatius, '50), is a Plain Dealer sportswriter who, since the late '50s, has covered every sport for St. Ignatius' alumni publication. "I was always encouraged there to pursue a career in sports, and the Jesuits gave me the confidence to go out and prove myself," says Zunt. "So, when they needed someone to cover sports for them I volunteered. It got to be a habit."
For George Wasmer (St. Ignatius, '50), president of Lake Erie Screw Corporation, memories of a devoted faculty offering him special tutoring after a bout with the measles fuel his desire to contribute both time and money to his alma mater. And he never misses a class reunion. "The lessons of St. Ignatius are a good model for businessmen, and I truly believe my education prepared me for this." In an interesting twist, Wasmer is also currently helping with fund-raising at St. Ed's. "I believe in parochial education, now more than ever," he says. "There's room for both of them."
Both schools have a history of strict and regularly enforced discipline. St. Ed's guys relish recounting how detention in the early decades involved digging the school's subbasement. The key, says Boyle, was to manage to be just a little late in reporting for detention. "We all wore suits and ties, of course, and so the brothers provided a certain number of overalls to wear for digging. I'd always figure out a way to have some sort of problem in last period so I'd have to stay late - and by the time I showed up, all the overalls would be taken. I'd end up as supervisor. It was great."
St. Ignatius guys talk about The JUG, an acronym that retired Judge John V. Corrigan ('38) of the Ohio Court of Appeals (8th Circuit), says stood for "Justice Under God." "Oh, yeah, I was there a few times," says Corrigan, who recalls having to translate 250 lines of Latin poetry. "You could be there a day, a week or months, depending how long it took you."
The JUG didn't mellow with time, either. Michael Killeen ('61), a Westlake city councilman and partner at Arthur Andersen, also remembers an encounter or two with Latin verse in The JUG. "We had to memorize Latin poetry, which even if it rhymes doesn't make a lot of sense."
Killeen also remembers one particular Jesuit who, for some reason he fails to recall, had no nerves in one of his hands. "Every so often, he'd smack that hand against the black-board really hard just to impress you. You learned to respect those black robes."
On October 23, St. Ignatius and St. Edward's will go head to head for the 29th time. Most of the dozens of graduates interviewed planned to attend the big game.
It took awhile, but we did find one true cynic among all the graduates interviewed. Not surprisingly, he was a lawyer. He's having a hard time getting worked up game. Or anything else about the two schools. Maybe it's his 22 years as an assistant prosecutor for Cuyahoga County the long days of pursuing rapists, robbers and murderers and overseeing a staff of 150 lawyers but Carmen Marino (St. Ed's, '60) takes a dim view of all this hootin' and hollerin' over one's former high school.
"I enjoyed going to St. Ed's. It has a long tradition of not just college preparatory education, but industrial arts and business and a leaming disabilities program, too. It's not as elitist as St. Ignatius. But whichever high school you go to is no big deal. You graduate, and then you have 50 or 60 years of life ahead of you. Especially for all these Irish guys at St. Ignatius it's like the high point of their lives."
While he's at it, there's one point Marino wants to make about St. Ignatius, which has more than 600 lawyers among its graduates. "You're always hearing about how many lawyers went to St. Ignatius. So what. All that means is St. Ignatius has had a lot of guys who didn't want to work for a living."
He chuckles, then, really low and sinister-like. "Yeah, put that in your story. I like that."
The World According to Coughlin and Russ
There's nothing like an objective expert to give you perspective on the whole rivalry thing. With a detached coolness, he can offer up cold hard facts, stark statistics and a reasoned analysis. He's logical, methodical, unbiased. He's also no fun.
That's why we turned to the gleefully biased Dan Coughlin (St. Ed's, '56), the Grand Poobah of Parochialisms. His vocation is sportscaster at WJW-TV8; his avocation is promoting his alma mater, totally at the expense of the bigger, older, more costly St. Ignatius.
Coughlinism No. 1: "St. Ed's turned out some lawyers and doctors, but we also had plumbers, electricians, guys in construction, cops. So, if your toilet got stopped up, you called a St. Ed's guy to fix it. If you got stopped by a cop, he was a St. Ed's guy who didn't give you a ticket, so you never ended up before a St. Ignatius judge.
"But St. Ignatius guys all their classmates were lawyers When their toilet got stopped up, they had to thumb through the yellow pages to call a plumber who did a lousy job, so then they had to call a classmate to sue them. Do you see what I'm getting at here?"
Coughlinism No. 2: "This is a new trend I've noticed. They're all dropping the Mc's and 0 apostrophes and adding the Roman numeral III to their names." St. Ed's guys, he says, don't do that.
Cougblinism No. 3: It was always tough to compete with St. Ignatius when it came to music. "Our fight song was a simple thing written by the Brothers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. St. Ignatius' fight song was one popularized by Louis Armstrong: 'When the Saints Come Marching In.'"
Coughlinism No. 4: "St. Ignatius is so well-endowed, they're the true Horatio Alger story. Only 15 years ago they were so poor they couldn't even afford their own security guard, and now they own half the West Side. But St. Ed's and again, I can't stress enough how reliable my sources are on this is expecting a $100 million endowment any day now. It seems that we only recently learned that when St. Ed's was founded in 1949, it was named after Ed DeBartolo. We're sending him a bill."
Coughlinism No. 5: "One more tuition raise and St. Ignatius will be able to buy up all the property from the West Side Market to West 65th Street. I've already heardthat they will tear down all the houses and now I have this on the best of authority put up polo fields to expose the inner city to polo. They'll have their own horses and stables, of course, the by-product of which they'll use to improve their football fields. And if you play polo all four years, you get to keep the horse."
Remember, you read it here first.
We liked Dan Coughlin's analysis.
Really we did. But we felt a little uneasy. It's not that we don't trust Dan Couglin's sources. It's that we don't trust Dan Coughlin.
So we called his colleague over at WJW-TV8, Dick Russ, who happens to be a 1971 grad of St. Ignatius, only you'd never know that to look at the school's alumni directory because he's listed under his legal name, Richard Halabse. And Russ had a few observations of his own, which we call Halabseisms.
Halabseism No. 1: "Anyone with half a brain chose St. Ignatius, which explains why Dan didn't go there. And he was a student a long, long time ago. I believe they were still using Spanish pieces of eight to pay tuition when he was at Ed's."
Halabseism No. 2: "I first caught on to this in 1967 when I was riding the bus from the East Side of Cleveland to St. Ignatius. No matter how cold it was, the St. Ed's guys never wore gloves. At first I thought, 'God, these guys must really be tough.' Then I figured out it was the only way they could count their bus fare."
Halabseism No. 3: St. Ed's guys never count over 10 unless they can remove their shoes. "You see this all the time with Coughlin. At least he has learned enough manners to know you don't take off your shoes and socks in the newsroom, but that means that no football score on the TV8 scoreboard ever goes over 10 when Dan's reporting. You'll ask him at halftime, 'Hey, Dan, what's the score?' And he'll say, '10 to seven.' Then in the next quarter someone will score another touchdown, and when you ask him the score, it's still '10 to seven.'"
Halabseism No. 4: St. Ed's guys take longer to procreate. "I have three little kids. I'm still young. Dan has little kids, and he's an old man. That's pretty typical of St. Ed's guys."
Halabseism No. 5: St. Ed's guys fix St. Ignatius guys' toilets. "Ask Dan. Every night after he leaves the station, he goes to my house to fix my plumbing and feed the horses at the polo stables before he goes home. That's called taking different paths in life."