At 5:15 p.m.today, the Wildcats of St. Ignatius College Prep will take on the Fightin' Irish of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep at AT&T Ballpark in what is the third installment of the Bruce Mahoney contest. As written about many times before, this storied rivalry holds the distinction as the longest standing athletic rivalry between two schools west of the Mississippi River. Based on the outcome of today's baseball game, the trophy will either remain at SI or be claimed sometime later this week by student-athletes from SHC. The series is comprised of football, basketball and baseball and what makes today's game special is that the series is split. SH prevailed on the gridiron, lost to SI on the hardwood and we shall see what occurs on the diamond later today. Indeed there is much to appreciate about this tradition beyond the athletic competition, iconic San Francisco venues, and the fact that alumni from each institution return year after year to wear either Green and White or Red and Blue. A starting point for appreciation ought to be education about the namesakes of the trophy: Bill Bruce and Jerry Mahoney.
A fellow SI faculty member who I consider our resident archivist and historian shared with the faculty the "tribute to Bill Bruce written by Bill Leiser, sports editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, published on April 18, 1943—four days after Bill was killed in a plane crash. Leiser addresses the spirit of sacrifice that is at the heart of the Bruce-Mahoney competition." You can read it here.
I asked my seniors, young men and women just two months from leaving SI to comment on what stands out...what do they appreciate about Bill Bruce. They loved that he was deemed a "right guy." Every single one of them noted that me "meant more to the football team than the best galloping ghost halfback." A few were confused about why he left the NFL for the Navy; their peers and I were quick to help them understand a). the Broncos is a reference to Santa Clara University and the football team they once had and b). the NFL didn't even come into existence until 1960 (if you are to consider what it is today). Context. Still, others added that he was an "orphan," a word you don't hear that often today....or the term "St. Ignatius High School." "God rest his soul" is a beautiful way to conclude the tribute. Amen.
Celebrating the Bruce-Mahoney has kept graduates of St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral engaged, involved and curious in our communities. Let us in the Church use this as a powerful example that Appreciating a Tradition is a skill that can and should be prepared, experience and practiced. Today, my students have a better sense of who Bill Bruce is. In a few hours, they will experience the spirit of sacrifice out at the Yard and I hope at some point, they will reflect upon the gift that is this rivalry—a living tradition.
SI vs SHC
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