Dec. 13, 2005
PHILADELPHIA - Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Philadelphia Big 5 game, when Saint Joseph's and Villanova met on December 14, 1955 at The Palestra. The game was the beginning of one of the most unique arrangements in all of college athletics, which is steeped in tradition and intense rivalries.
The Big 5 was "born" on November 23, 1954, when an agreement to have all five schools play doubleheaders at the Palestra was announced. More importantly, the arrangement was also announced for the schools to play a full round-robin, thus comprising the City Series.
Saint Joseph's and Villanova took to the court for that historic game on December 14, which was the second of a doubleheader, following the La Salle-Lafayette matchup. The Hawks recorded the first Big 5 win, defeating the Wildcats, 83-70.
The Hawks, coached by Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay, were led to the victory by Al Juliana, who recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds. Kurt Englebert added a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Saint Joseph's also received double-figure scoring from team captain Mike Fallon (15 points) and Bill Lynch (13).
Other members of that squad were Joe Ceremsak, Dan Dougherty, Steve Idzik, Jack McKinney, Tim Purcell, Ray Radzisewski and Jack Savage.
For the official box score from that game with Saint Joseph's statistics, click here.
By the end of the season, Saint Joseph's had swept the first City Series, 4-0, which would be the first of eight 4-0 finishes for the Hawks during the 50-year history. All told, the Hawks have captured 19 Big 5 titles, winning nine outright and sharing 10.
The anniversary of that first Big 5 game will be celebrated this season when Saint Joseph's and Villanova square off on February 7 at The Palestra in a nationally-televised game (ESPN2).