Joe McDevitt began following Xavier basketball back before the war. Umm, the big war. World War II. As a kid living in Evanston, McDevitt and a group of friends would walk to Schmidt Fieldhouse and get into the game for a dime—or free if they knew the referee.
He continued going through high school except during the war years when the season was put on hold, but picked up again in 1945 when Ed Burns was head coach. “He was my cousin,” says McDevitt, adding they never knew each other, nor did he realize they were related. It wasn’t until later his mother mentioned a first cousin by the name of Eddie who she heard was once a good athlete at Xavier.
After enrolling at Xavier, McDevitt became friends with some of the players and even gave advice to coach Ned Wulk. He recalls sitting in the cafeteria when Wulk approached his table.
“He asked our group who we thought was the best basketball player in Cincinnati. We told him Duke Schneider.” Richard “Duke” Schneider played ball in CYO leagues but never on a high school team. Even so, Wulk gave him a tryout, and he became a part of the team. Which reminds McDevitt of another favorite memory—one he almost missed, when Xavier won the NIT Championship in New York in 1858. He was stuck at work and only made it to Dana Gardens in time to see the second half.
Since those early days, McDevitt has become a season ticket holder with a group of friends. And at age 78, McDevitt isn’t planning on giving up his seat yet. His group will be there for the season opener. “We like to get there an hour early and greet fans as they walk in.”