Remembering Peter X. Finnerty

Memories of Peter X. Finnerty

I got to know Mr. Finnerty during my student days at the College, before Pace Plaza was built and the College, not yet University, was located at 41 Park Row. It was not athletics, but politics, which was our introduction when Mr. Finnerty ran for Town office in New Jersey. His office was located on the 9th floor of 41 Park Row next to the student lounge and he heard me defending my support of Robert Wagner's reelection in 1961 (ashamed of it as I am today I have to admit it). As he was leaving his office to go home he handed me one of his palm cards and hurryingly left for the elevators. The next day we had a long talk and began speaking to each other about politics over the years I was there. It was sad to see his picture on the newsletter announcing his passing, but I'm sure he had a long life and a productive one too. My heart goes out to his family in this time of sadness, but his family should be certain he was fondly remembered by all in the Pace community.

-- David S. Levine '66
 

Pace's Father of Athletics

-- Dr. Nick Catalano
 

All around nice guy. He was a father figure to many people and a hell of a good coach.

-- Zachary S. Holland '61
 

Gerald was apart of the basketball team when Richard Dryer was coach. He would hang out a lot in Peter's office and one day he was looking through the record book and he saw that Pace was winning to Jersey Drew School in New Jersey 9 to 0. Gerald brought that to Peter's attention and Peter said that one year he wanted best out of 7 but they wouldn't give it to him. Gerald said that Peter had a great sense of humor. He was also proud that his basketball team was the first team in 1965 to make it to the post season tournament.

-- Gerald K. Lane '67
 

He flew all the way from Phoenix to attend Peter's retirement party and he sat next to him at the party because Finnerty was so impressed that he had traveled so far just for him. The first thing Finnerty said to him was "Where's Garrett?".

He said: Peter was a great man.

He mentioned that he dated his secretary without him every knowing it and said that that was a big feat.

Quoted: "Peter Finnerty let us all become friends: student athletes, coaches, and himself."

He said "we" had a lot of fun with him, he always had a smile on.

-- E. Judson Booth '67
 

Pace was a small school with unknown fencing team. So, it was not easy to find opponents. Fenced against Rutgers and other small schools in the area. But, somehow Pete pulled some strings and got them an invitation to fence against UConn and they actually beat them!

-- Joseph M. Abrams '61
 

Always remembered him as being a gentleman.

-- Mee-Lon Ngai-Marino '69, '71
 

He was a great coach and a great person.

-- Nicholas A. Petrarca '58
 

Being a catcher (1961-64) who wore glasses; on hot humid days when I exhaled under the mask, condensation would form on them making it difficult to see the in-coming pitch. Mr. Finnerty suggested contact lenses. In the first game wearing them, I inadvertently, put them in reversed (left and right eye). The lenses were different strengths. I had no fogging problem, plus I went 4 for 4 ,which was very unusual for me.

Subsequently, he called me to his office to discuss the effectiveness of the lenses (I believe I was the first Pace player to wear them in 1961. ) In our discussion, I mentioned the reversal incident. He got a great laugh out of that. I saw him 3 or 4 games later and not having any 4 for 4 at-bats, he suggested that I reverse the lenses!!!!

Mr. Finnerty was kind and gentle….a great MAN who laid the foundation for Pace’s athletic program.

-- Larry Cafaro '64
 

Pete was great. He used to come to all the football games. He would pace the sidelines down the near the end zone. He couldn't watch the game when the scores were close. He had to turn around.

-- John Griffin '71
 

Even at the end of the season he would allow us [basketball players] to come in and play. Overall he was just a nice guy who treated us well.

-- Michael A. Montgomery '78
 

Terrific sense of humor, great guy, modest, gentleman, fair to all the students - if anyone says anything different they didn't really know him. All around great guy.

One of the basketball players was knocked kneed and the other was bowlegged and he said do not stand together because you're going to spell out lock.

-- Barbara C. Weston '60
 

Always dapper. Always chipper. Mr. Finnerty was the perfect person to give Pace athletics credibility and class. He was quick with a joke, a story and even quicker to put a hand on your shoulder. We affectionately called him PETER X., - no disrespect intended but that was only when teammates spoke about him behind closed doors. He was one of the few people I've encountered in the 40+ years since leaving Pace who was respected by all. You never heard a negative thing said about Mr. Finnerty which is very rare. We all became friendly with his son Brian, a super guy who starred on the baseball team but never let his "friend" in high places get in the way. Mr. Finnerty had a knack for making everyone feel special - especially all his "boys" who played sports for Pace. And to me that's what makes him unique and is something that I will always remember him for.

-- Cliff Gelb '70
 

Mr. Finnerty, as we referred to him was an exceptional, caring and creative individual. I came to meet him through Pace Athletics as I played on the varsity baseball team during while he served as the Pace Athletic Director.

Mr. Finnerty was a maverick in that he took the athletic program to new heights through innovative fund raising. When I first joined the baseball team, Pace had very little resources for team sports. There were no training facilities. There was not even a “Home Field” other than the public Parade Grounds Fields in Brooklyn. Mr. Finnerty through creative fund raising built a baseball field in Westchester and helped fund the construction by offering the facility as a practice field to the NY Giants Football team. Similarly he raised funds by offering the Pace Gym to the NY Knicks as a practice facility. During spring break, each year, the baseball team traveled to Florida to compete with other schools which enabled us to get a full schedule of games and get us ready for the new baseball season. These trips to Florida were rewarding as a team build endeavor and greatly contributed to the rich experience that Pace offered me and the rest of the team.

-- Bob Fenster '71
 

Pete was a good and loyal friend to my whole family. My dad,Alvin Hirsch was a graduate of Pace and was also a professor of accounting.Pete had my dad coach the baseball team one year and I along with two other boys were the mascots dressed in full Pace uniform when we were around 7 oir 8 years old. I'm not sure of the age but the picture of us should be in the archives since I have a copy.

When I was a junior and senior Pete was the basketball coach and let me be a student manager so I was able to a ttend all the games which were away since we had no gym. He was a sweetheart as long as I made sure that the box scores were called in to the newspapers after the games.God help me if the scores were not in the next days papers I also thought that he was going to throw me off the team when during a Christmas tournement I was given a technichal foul for yelling at the official while at the scorers table.He soon got over it but he never let me forget what I did even though he agreed that the call was terrible.

In his later years when he was not well he lived in the next town from me and my youngest son Todd swam against his grandchildren in the Hub Lakes league.I wanted my son to meet him and when we met he looked at me and said ""How are you Al"" My son didn't understand why he called me Al so I had to explain to Todd that was his grandfather's name.That's how much my dad meant to Pete.I had and still have so much love for Pete and I felt good that I was able to attend his wake. I think of him often and especially when I attend Pace baseball games at the field that was named after him. I will always miss him.

-- Stephen Hirsch '62
 

I have two I'd like to share:
The first was at the annual Pace Golf Outing sometime during the '70s. When it came time for the awarding of prizes , Pete as the emcee realized , through oversight, there was no award for closest to the pin. No problem: He simply slipped his own watch off his wrist and presented it to the delighted winner.

The second memory took place circa April 1957 at the Brooklyn Parade Grounds where Pete, as the baseball coach, was conducting spring practice for the players. At one point Pete was upset by the casual swing made by one of the batters, Charlie Zammit, and shouted "" Dammit, Zammit, Slammit!"" Terse but it got the message across.

I played baseball and basketball for Pete. He was a wonderful man and mentor.

Mr.Finnerty was a special man. He made you feel good.He was always positive and encouraging.He certainly made a difference in my life and i am forever grateful.

-- Jay Chazanoff '67
 

I remember Peter X most fondly as a student/athlete at Pace when the basketball team had to travel to the Pleasantville Campus from Manhattan on a daily basis since that was the only gymnasium available to us. Peter X was always concerned whether those of us making that journey had enough money for food and gas. He was a very caring individual who was concerned about our welfare and made every effort to assist us when Pace Basketball was a Division III program with limited funding. Anytime you mentioned Peter.. the X always followed... simply a wonderful man and I think of him each time I wear the Pace watch that the athletes received.

-- Dr. Viktor J. Joganow '70