Where are they: Terry Crosby (KC Kings 79-80)

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Where are they: Terry Crosby (KC Kings 79-80)

Postby rlee » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:37 pm

Terry Crosby Excelled in two sports at DeVilbiss

Terry Crosby, possibly the City League's best-ever two-sport athlete, works as a mentor/counselor in Manchester, England.

In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Blade sports writer Steve Junga talked with Terry Crosby, a legendary high school football and basketball player at DeVilbiss, who played college basketball at Tennessee.

Terry Crosby whose last athletic feats played out in Toledo some 33 years ago, is now far removed from that celebrated golden era of City League sports.

His alma mater, DeVilbiss, closed in 1991. His best friend and Tiger football/basketball teammate, Farley Bell, was killed 1992. Crosby's father, Leon, died in 1983. That same year Terry ventured across the Atlantic to play professional basketball in Great Britain and basically stayed for good.

Crosby became a naturalized British citizen in 1988, and his occasional trips back to the states these days are to visit his mother, Dorothy. Although there are few tangible connections that remain between Terry Crosby and Toledo, his exploits are firmly locked in the memories of those who witnessed them first hand.

"I've been associated with the City League since 1969 and I defy anyone to come up with anybody who accomplished what Terry Crosby did in those two sports," said longtime CL commissioner Ed Scrutchins. "He may not have been the best football player I've seen or the best basketball player I've seen, but he was the best two-sport athlete I've seen. He was that good."

"I was at DeVilbiss for 33 years and Terry was, by far, the best all-around athlete I ever came across or had an opportunity to coach," said former Tigers football coach Dale Pittman, now 71.

There was a six-day span in 1974 when the 6-4, 195-pound Crosby provided lasting evidence of his athleticism and versatility.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, DeVilbiss beat St. John's 42-20 in the Shoe Bowl City League football championship game at the Glass Bowl. For his part, Crosby rushed for a then CL-record 328 yards, scored three touchdowns (runs of 5, 63 and 90 yards), and intercepted three passes in leading the Tigers to a second straight City title.

On Saturday, Nov. 30, DeVilbiss' first basketball game was against defending City champion and state semifinalist Scott, a Bulldog squad led by Crosby's friend and future Kentucky standout Truman Claytor.

With less than a week to transition from football to basketball, Crosby scored 38 points in a one-point loss. Claytor fired in 40 for the winning Bulldogs. This shoot-out between the two first-team All-Ohioans took place prior to the era of 3-point shot before a standing-room-only crowd at Scott.

Crosby, who led the league in scoring in football in 1973 and '74, was selected second-team All-Ohio as a junior and first team as a senior. In basketball, he was twice named first-team All-Ohio, leading the CL in scoring as a junior (24.3).

Beyond the numbers, Crosby managed to stand out in what was arguably the best combined football-basketball era in Toledo history in terms of individual talent.

Recruited by big-time colleges for football and basketball, Crosby turned down a scholarship offer from Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who, according to Pittman, said the Tiger star could start in the Buckeyes' defensive secondary as a freshman.

But Crosby preferred basketball, and also said no to Ohio State and Michigan, among many others, in that sport, He ultimately chose Tennessee.

His first two seasons with the Volunteers saw only moderate playing time behind Southeastern Conference stars and future NBA players Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld. But Crosby averaged a career-best 19.7 points as a junior, and helped the Vols top defending national champion Kentucky three times his senior year.

Crosby was a third-round selection by the Kansas City Kings in the 1979 NBA draft, made the opening-game roster, but was released after playing in just four games.

He resumed his pro career in 1983 in England, and spent 14 years playing in Europe. He once scored a British Basketball League-record 73 points in one game, and had a single-season best 36-points per-game average.

Crosby, who received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Tennessee, has spent the last six years working as a mentor/counselor for youth offenders under the age of 18 for Manchester (England's) Metro Borough Council. He is in charge of arranging and monitoring the education and training of youths who have come through the justice system.

He currently resides in Manchester with 20-year girlfriend Susan Kaloe. The couple have a 17-year-old son, Leon, named after Terry's late father, and an eight-year-old daughter, Ebony.

"MY BEST MEMORY from high school was the team chemistry and the cohesiveness we were able to put together, and everybody believing. When we beat Scott in football my senior year we were down 13-7 and there was about 30 seconds left. Coach Pittman called for 43x. We ran the wishbone and that was a [counter] play where I would take two steps to the right and cut back and run through the 3-hole in the line.

Everybody in the huddle was like, 'Why is he calling that?' But our quarterback, George West said, 'Don't worry, he's going to break it.' We started right and all of Scott's pursuit went that way. I just cut back left through the hole and nobody was there. All I could see was the end zone about 55 yards away. It was just a race to the end zone. Farley and I got most of the publicity, but George West was our quarterback, and he was our leader.

"THAT WEEK [1974 Shoe Bowl and basketball at Scott] was just natural instincts, I guess. Things like that can't be taught. I just went out and did it. What I remember from that [basketball] game was Truman taking a couple steps past half court and the ball going in the basket, and me doing some 360 move and laying the ball up at the other end.

"The atmosphere was unbelievable that night. As I reflect back, I remember how unhealthy it probably was with all the smoke in the gym, and some of that smoke being consumed wasn't legal.

"In that Shoe Bowl we knew [St. John's defense would] be keying on me. Coach Pittman wanted to see if we could exploit that. In the second quarter it was like 'Now let's go back to what we normally do,' and it worked. They had started to take their eyes off of me a little bit.

"By the time I graduated from DeVilbiss I had over 5,000 letters for different colleges all around the country. My mom and dad were constantly on the phone talking to recruiters, mostly my mother. I remember Woody Hayes coming in, and Johnny Orr and Fred Taylor. It was madness."

"TENNESSEE WAS the wrong place for me. I was leaning toward Kentucky and their great tradition, but then I found out Truman Claytor was going there. I didn't think it was good for two gunners from the same city to go to the same school. It would be like we were canceling each other out. Me and Truman were like brothers. We still are.

"Tennessee was really on me and they were very nice with my parents. I'll say it now - there were some illegal promises made and there was some money involved. I wouldn't like to put a figure on it. But, I suppose everybody was doing it then.

"I can't say it was all bad, especially being a part of that team with Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld. Sports Illustrated came in and, even though I didn't play much then, I'll never forget being a part of that. But things would have been a lot different for me as a college player if I had gone to Ohio State or Michigan. Different states look after their own people."

"THAT SHOE BOWL [in 1974] was my last game, and I've never missed football. In hindsight someone could say that if I would have picked football that I might have been a millionaire. But that's not necessarily true. High school is different than the NFL. When you have to make a choice about your future it's very difficult at that age.

"At that time I excelled in football and I excelled equally at basketball. My choice was based on what I liked participating in the most. Who's to say that, if I would've chosen football, it would have worked out like that? It's all about timing and being in the right place at the right time.

"What happened to Farley was something tragic and something you never want to see happen in anyone's life. That was one of the most hurtful experiences that I've ever encountered in my life. We were like brothers. We were really that close.

"THE REASON I STAYED over here [in England] is a combination of things. Living in foreign countries has given me the opportunity to see how different cultures live, what the lifestyle is and what their habits are. It's developed me as a person. If I had been in America my whole life I wouldn't have had these experiences.

"I still get back to the U.S. as often as I can. The last time was about two years ago. The things I miss the most are my family and friends, the food and TV. It hasn't been easy because, other than my immediate family here, I've got nobody. But I've had a good life over here. I've kept myself healthy, free from trouble, I've got a lovely family and I've always been employed. I've really enjoyed the experiences I've had in Europe.

"IN MY OPINION, the City League era that we played in will never repeat itself. You are talking about [many] athletes who were all capable of playing at the next level, in the NBA or NFL, and some who were blessed and did get the opportunity to have careers in the NBA and NFL. It is so unusual to have such fine athletes competing all at once in the same league and at the same time.

"At the time, I did not appreciate the caliber of athletes that I played with and competed against. Now, I can reflect and appreciate and value being associated with this group of athletes."

"MY BEST SPORTS memory has got to be beating Kentucky three straight times in one season in my senior year of basketball at Tennessee. Although we were always best of friends, Truman Claytor and I have always been rivals when it comes to competing in sports.

"I might not have made it in the NBA or the NFL, but I would want people to remember me when they're talking about Toledo's best two-sport athletes."
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