In the case of posthumous inductees Franklin Crossin and Walter Hynoski, their children were on hand to accept their fathers’ honors and share some memories.
Don Crossin was only 18 when his father died in 1981, so he didn’t get much of a chance to hear the former Penn hoops star talk about his sweet shooting stroke (he got the nickname “Chink” because of the sound the chain-link nets then used made when his shots dropped through), how his basketball career was interrupted for two years by Navy service during World War II, or how he was drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1947 Basketball Association of America draft. But all it took was a quick glance at his hand to realize how much Frank “Chink” Crossin loved his Quakers. “He didn’t even wear a wedding band,” said Don, the youngest of Crossin’s five children. “But he always wore his Penn ring.”
Hynoski’s children knew all about their father’s successes. Legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno made sure to remind them. “In 1953, Penn played Penn State and beat them, 13-7,” explained Penn State alum Mike Hynoski, one of Walt’s four sons. “Joe Paterno was an assistant coach on that [PSU] team, so one time Joe sent an autographed picture to my son that said, ‘Don’t be too nice to your grandfather. He beat Penn State.’”
These days, Penn beating Penn State in football would be roughly equivalent to a tortoise outrunning a cheetah. But back in the 1950s—when Hynoski did it all as a runner, passer, and punter—the Quakers consistently welcomed the toughest teams in the land while playing in front of 70,000 fans. “He always spoke with reverence of Franklin Field,” said his oldest son, Jeff Hynoski, “and playing against the nation’s best.”
After graduating, Hynoski turned down a professional contract with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers to finish his ROTC obligation in the United States Air Force, where he ended up playing some competitive football overseas. He died last October at the age of 75, just one year after being inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. His sons said they wish he were alive for this induction instead. “Quite frankly, we were talking about this, and we feel like this is the one he would rather have been to,” Mike said. “Right, he loved this University,” chimed in Jeff. “He loved everything about it.”
Bob Seddon was the only one of this group of inductees who didn’t go to Penn, but everyone still felt the love when the venerable coach came to the microphone as the other featured speaker besides Kennedy. Seddon, who had no college coaching experience when he was hired, but ended up directing the soccer team from 1968-86 and the baseball squad from 1972-2005, was especially grateful to longtime baseball assistant Bill Wagner. “I get choked up,” Seddon said, “just when I mention his name.”
Seddon, who boasts more wins than any Ivy baseball coach in history, recalled some fond memories (the no-hitters, the new baseball stadium, the NCAA tournaments, the huge crowds for soccer back when soccer was big) and some not-so-fond ones (like the time Glanville and the Quakers managed to blow a 16-0 lead in a playoff game). But mainly the man best known as “9” thanked the players, coaches, and school administrators who gave a “non-Ivy graduate the opportunity to stand here in front of everybody.”
Seddon later remarked how difficult it was following Kennedy as a speaker, which was ironic because it was Kennedy’s speech that showed following in the wake of others is what makes Penn great. “All you had to do was look up at the big Pennsylvania clock, the flags above the scoreboard, the huge ring of stands, the dramatic Philadelphia skyline,” she said, “and you remembered how many people came before you and blazed that trail for you.”
And as the former field hockey and lacrosse player showed, having your teammates ride shotgun makes for a smooth and wonderful ride through life—even when the world delivers an unavoidable pothole. “Even though our days of being the fastest are probably behind us,” she said, “the bonds we formed and the genuine love and friendship we shared will always be a part of us. So let us celebrate our very good fortune and be grateful for the chances we had to shine, thanks to those very special people beside us in the trenches.”
Dave Zeitlin C’03 writes the Gazette’s sports blog at www.upenn.edu/gazette.
July|August 2010 contents