Niagara Gazette

Sports

January 11, 2014

McGRATH: A Niagara souvenir worth keeping

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — He was supposed to be in intensive care for 48 hours, but was out in 12. He was up and walking a few days after surgery and became the talk of the hospital.

In the 10 months that followed, Phil was obsessed with keeping his promise that he would play basketball again. The odds were long, but on the night of Nov. 6, 1979, Scaffidi was back on the court in the Student Center (now the Gallagher Center) as Niagara played an exhibition game against a team from Taiwan.

Geared up in knee braces and a flak jacket, his introduction brought a standing ovation that lasted more than two minutes. It brought a smile to his face and — almost — tears to his eyes. He logged more than 10 minutes, setting up his teammates and scoring his only two points from the free throw line.

After that, he played several regular-season games, setting the NU assist record on Jan. 21, 1980. A week later he played his final game, a cameo appearance against St. John’s at Memorial Auditorium. Cancer was winning the battle by then.

There was a testimonial for him in Buffalo on Feb. 1, with Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda among the more than 1,000 people who showed up. He was back at Roswell Park later that month, but he struggled out of his hospital bed to see Niagara beat Canisius at the Aud. It was the last time I saw him. Just a month before his 24th birthday, and only a few months before he was to be married, he was gone.

So if you are among those lucky enough to get a bobblehead Sunday, give it an appropriate place among your souvenirs. It truly represents a one-of-kind Purple Eagle.

Bill McGrath is a former sports editor of the Niagara Gazette and covered Niagara basketball for 30 years.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page