Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas
Sport(s): Football,Baseball
Year of Graduation: 1974-1979
Year Inducted: 2005

*Induction Speech by Randy Lambert*

DANNY THOMAS

FOOTBALL, BASEBALL 

1974 – 79

 

We move on to the decade of the 70’s.  A young man enrolled at Maryville College by the name of Danny Thomas in 1974.  Let it be known that our Danny Thomas was not a comedian.  He does not have an unusually long nose.  Nor does he sing or dance like the popular entertainer of the time.  MC’s Danny Thomas was a football player and he was good at baseball too.  Danny was an extremely successful high school athlete.  He was a standout in football, basketball, and baseball at North Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia.  He was a winner in everything he did and he brought his winning ways to the Maryville campus.

After red-shirting his first year, Danny was looking forward to his freshman year in 1975.  It was Coach Jim Jordan’s second year and the Scots struggled because of their youth and inexperience.  Danny played quarterback and started three games.  It was just a matter of time before he would have a huge impact on the team’s success.  As the next season rolled around, Danny moved to free safety.  This was the natural move for an athlete with his ability.  Things started coming together for the 1976 team and they finished the season with a 7 - 2 record.

With impressive wins over Centre, Hampden-Sydney, Millsaps, Southwestern (Rhodes), and Emory & Henry, the winning ways of MC football had returned and Danny was having fun.  He continued to play spirited football throughout his junior season and the team finished the year at 6 - 2.  Game after game, Danny would make big plays from his free safety position.  He was deceptively fast and could cover sideline to sideline breaking up a pass, jumping in front of a defender for an interception, or making a touchdown saving tackle.  He had matured as a player and he would save his best football for his senior year. 

The 1978 team couldn’t wait for their first game versus Emory & Henry.  This was also the first game for new head coach Steve Fickert.  They started the season with a 17-6 win and kept on rolling from there.  With Danny directing traffic from his safety position, the defense proved to be downright awesome at times.  Playing with linebackers, Tony Ierulli, Robert Boone, and Wayne Dunn linemen David Shankle, and strong safety Pete Barron, Danny had 7 interceptions for the season.

During the Homecoming Game vs. Millsaps, Danny was dubbed the defensive hero of the game by the Maryville Alcoa Daily times.  He intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards to set up the Scots only touchdown.  On the final play of the game, Danny intercepted a Major’s pass in the end zone to seal the 13 - 7 victory.

 

The defensive unit finished 4th in NCAA Division III allowing only 6.8 points per game.  The Fighting Scots finished the year with a record of 8 - 1, the best record since 1963.  Danny was named the defensive MVP as he completed his football career with 16 interceptions.

If you’ll remember, Danny was a multi-sport athlete.  Each year after the football season, he would put on his cleats and glove and head to the baseball diamond.  Of course, he was a standout and a 4-year letterman on this playing field too.

As a freshman pitcher in 1975, he was a major contributor on a good team.  They finished the year at 19-14.  During his sophomore year in 1976 he was unstoppable.  With a 3.54 ERA, he led the team with a 7-1 record from the mound.  He also had a batting average of .350 as a designated hitter.  He was honored as a member of the 1st team All South District Team by the regional coaches.  Like fine wine, Danny Thomas just kept getting better.  In 1977, his junior year, Danny struck out 24 batters in 25 innings and the crafty right hander was awesome on the mound.  He also batted .415 and was the team’s second leading hitter. 

For his accomplishments, he was honored as a second team All South District performer.  The team qualified for the NCAA Division III Southern Region tournament, the second time in school history for the baseball program. 

Danny and Kevin McKinstry were the aces on the pitching staff.  Out in the field, Ken Hanna, Johnny Walker, Vince Fucci, and Beetle Bailey were the leaders.  The team finished the season at 20 - 11.

In 1978, Danny’s senior year, he had another excellent season and was chosen as the Most Valuable Player by Coach Billy Henry.  His career pitching record was outstanding – 16 wins and 8 losses.  Danny Thomas, the star football and baseball player had concluded an athletic career that legends are made of.

Upon graduation from MC in 1979, Danny returned home to his alma mater as a teacher and coach at North Hall.  He married his college sweetheart Pam Cochran,          and they have established themselves as community leaders in Gainesville.  Danny coached football for 11 years and was head coach for 7 years.  He still enjoys teaching economics after 27 years of dedicated service.   A Most Valuable Player in two sports, a captain and team leader in two sports, national and regional recognition in two sports and one of the greatest athletes to wear the orange and garnet  – Danny Thomas.