Danny McGibbeny
Professional Tennis Management and Coach

Picture of The Gibber, 1974.


There's a field named after him.
Many people knew him.
Those who did respected him.
He was my friend and I loved him.
A twist of fate took him.
Heaven's a better place with him.
No one will forget him.
Danny McGibbeny, I miss him.

Daniel Patrick McGibbeny
Young Man Of Energy, Persistence And Courage

At the zenith of his professional career, as head coach of the Pittsburgh Triangles of World Team Tennis, Dan McGibbeny left no doubt as to his future plans.

"I guess the next thing will be a Dan McGibbeny Tennis Camp," he said. "Maybe even a few clothing and equipment endorsements. In fact, I am letting it be known that I am now available to coach the U.S. Davis Cup team."

Although said tongue-in-cheek, after McGibbeny had guided the Triangles to a playoff berth without ever having played tennis in his life, the statement reflects the way the good-humored young Irishman played the game of life.

To him, there was never any second best. Destiny and Daniel Patrick McGibbeny always met in the winners circle. If Danny snatched opportunity from the air, he did so to ride it to the end of the rainbow - and whatever lay beyond.

Beginning with his stint as sports information director as a student at Point Park College and throughout his professional career, he sought excellence with the same intensity with which Don Quixote chased windmills - only in McGibbeny's case, the goal never eluded him.

Danny McGibbeny with the staff of the
Sports Information Department in 1972.
Danny McGibbeny with members of the Point Park Sports Information staff in 1972.

At Point Park, McGibbeny realized the need for an eye-opening idea to bring some publicity to an infant basketball program still struggling to gain an identity in a city already overwhelmed with collegiate and professional athletics. What he came up with - a centerfold in the 1972-73 basketball media guide featuring a scantily clad and well-endowed young lady - wouldn't have gone down well with members of the feminist movement and certainly must have jolted the jaw mechanism of Point Park Head Coach Jerry Conboy.

But the idea worked - so much so that McGibbeny's unique way of presenting vital statistics - basketball statistics, that is - earned mention in Sports Illustrated magazine and provided the small college in downtown Pittsburgh with a national identity.

The Point Park Pioneers 1972-73 media guide.
The Point Park Pioneers 1972-73 basketball media guide
that received national recognition.

"We were a small school just starting out and Danny, through his innovative efforts, helped us on our way," recalls Conboy.

The centerfold turned out to be Danny McGibbeny's first waltz with fame, a dance which ended prematurely with his death from cancer on September 6, 1977. Born April 9, 1951, he was 26 years old - a short life by the standards of most people - but one which was highlighted by many accomplishments.

On August 1, 1973, a few weeks following the Journalism and Communications major's graduation from Point Park, McGibbeny was hired as the public relations director of the Triangles of the brand-new World Team Tennis League. It was the beginning of a dream-like professional career that even Walter Mitty might have had trouble fantasizing.

In 1975, while continuing his public relations duties, Danny assumed the position of assistant general manager of the club, and it immediately became evident that Danny McGibbeny brought more luck to the Triangles than a four-leaf clover, as they won the WTT title that very same year.

In 1976, Danny was named general manager of the Triangles, becoming at age 25 the youngest top executive of a major professional sports franchise, while still remaining public relations director.

But at mid-season, the Triangles were floundering and McGibbeny was designated coach of the club on July 15 by Triangle owner Frank B. Fuhrer. Danny also assumed the position of director of player personnel.

So Danny, now the team's general manager, publicity director, director of player personnel, and coach, took the racket by the handle, so to speak - as he had done with every endeavor he had ever attempted - in an effort to bring the Triangles from the depths of double faults, all the while retaining his O. Henry-like sense of humor.

"I guess I must be the first pro coach ever to call in the results after a match," he deadpanned.

With Danny at the helm, the Triangles surged, winning nine in a row and posting a 15-4 record before barely losing to the New York Sets in the WTT Eastern finals, a feat which can be attributed to perseverance, hard work, and maybe some good old Irish luck.

Coach McGibbeny with Paul Denny,
Bernie Mitton and Mark Cox in 1976.
Triangles Coach Danny McGibbeny, with trainer Paul Denny
and players Bernie Mitton and Mark Cox after a match.

"I think the reason he was able to do so well was his personality," comments Conboy. "He was like a cheerleader, always encouraging the players. His ability to handle people was one of his greatest attributes."

But then, a short year later, Danny McGibbeny, one of the most well-liked and respected members of his community and profession, was dead. Almost to the end, he remained active in community affairs, coaching a Senior Little League team in his Brookline neighborhood, and never letting anyone know of the ravaging pain and suffering.

"Danny was such a fine person that he didn't want people to know how badly off he was," says Conboy. "Like with everything else he had done, he was able to pull that one off, too."

A few weeks after his death, the City of Pittsburgh memorialized McGibbeny by proclaiming "Danny McGibbeny Day" throughout the city and naming a Brookline baseball field in his honor.

In 1978, Danny received another tribute when World Team Tennis posthumously established the Daniel Patrick McGibbeny Award to commemorate his outstanding contribution and dedication to the league.

And the accolades continue to roll in as more and more people realize what those closest to Danny knew all the while - that in the game of life it was always Danny McGibbeny, 40-love.

This Point Park memorial tribute is still another recognition for Danny McGibbeny. It is a sincere salute by the Journalism and Communications Department and other faculty members who touched his life and who in turn were touched by his smile.

It also represents a special nod of appreciation from the College Athletic Department which he served during his undergraduate days. But most of all, today's proceeding serve as a genuine reminder to the McGibbeny family that Daniel Patrick McGibbeny is remembered by all who knew and worked with him during his days at Point Park College (1971-1973) and in the heavily active years which followed his graduation.

Reprinted text from dedication of the Daniel McGibbeny Sports Corner in the
Journalism Wing of the Helen Jean Moore Library, Point Park College, Spring 1979.

Danny McGibbeny and his father, Post-Gazette
sports writer Dan McGibbeny, in 1974.
Danny McGibbeny and his father, Post-Gazette sports writer
Dan McGibbeny, at the Civic Arena in 1974.

"Danny McGibbeny - Son Of Brookline, Uncle Of Mine"
by Clint Burton

Elva and Dan McGibbeny moved to Brookline in 1953 with their two-year old son Danny and 15-year old daughter Patricia. Dan was a sports writer with the Post-Gazette and he was soon covering Little League baseball games for Sam Bryen in the Brookline Journal under the moniker "Mas Neyrb". Elva later became involved in community activities with the Brookline Community Center Association and later the Brookline Community Council.

Picture of Danny McGibbeny, 1963.

1963 Little League All-Star.

Young Danny attended Resurrection Grade School and at age nine played Minor League baseball at the Brookline Community Center. He stepped up to Little League in 1961, the year I was born, and played for three years with Kiwanis under the late Joe Power. Danny was an all-star selection in 1963.

Three years in Senior League with American Legion followed, including a championship season in 1965 and selection as all-star in 1966. In his final season, as a pitcher, he once struck out 18 batters in a game. Danny remained active after graduating from the program by coaching instructional Day League games on Saturday afternoons for a couple years, while attending classes at Robert Morris College.

Also active in youth football, Danny played midget football with Charles Miller's "Golden Cue" team in 1964 against Phil Sciulli's notorious Milan Eagles, then moved on to sandlot ball with the "Brookline Quaills" of the Pop Warner League.

His first two years in high school were spent at South Hills Catholic, were he was a member of their unbeaten freshmen basketball and football teams. As a sophomore he was a member of the Rebels once beaten championship basketball team. Danny's final two years in high school were spent at South Hills High School. During this time Danny worked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports department on high school football and basketball nights.

There were also the trials and tribulations of a teenager growing up in the turbulent '60s. Danny and the rest of the "Manco Gang" were easy targets for the overzealous law enforcement authorities of the time, and he and the rest of the gang were branded with unwarranted reputations as juvenile trouble.

Thinking back to those troubled times, Recreation Center Director Chuck Senft recalled, "I misjudged him in his younger years and made a mistake for which he obviously forgave me, because in later years he was always there for me when I needed him for a favor."

Danny McGibbeny coaching Day League, 1970.

Danny (left) coaching Brookline Day League
baseball with Phil Sciulli in 1970.

Still only age eight when "Uncle Danny" left home for college, my memories of him at that time are vague, but I do vividly recall his local pop band, in which he was a drummer along with keyboardist Mickey White and singer Jerry Bucciarelli (a.k.a Gerald Anthony - "Marco" of daytime soap opera fame on "One Life To Live"). They practiced at night and if I was lucky Gram would let me sneak down to the basement to watch.

Gibby, as he was known to his friends, worked under legendary coach Gus Kropp in the Robert Morris Athletic Department for two years before moving on to Point Park for a four-year degree. Danny returned to coaching in the Brookline program in 1972, when he took over managerial duties for Jack "Stanky" Lombardi's Stebbrook Healthland team.

His Irish luck took hold immediately and Healthland rolled to a Senior League Championship the next year. He continued to field competitive contenders each year. His 1974 team was runner-up to DeBor and the 1977 squad lost to the Brookline Lions in the finals.

The Triangle years (1973-1976) were definitely some of the most exciting of my life. Danny hired me as team statistician along with Drew Ondik for the '75-'76 seasons, and it was like living a fantasy. At age 13 I rubbed elbows with some of the tennis world's elite players and felt such pride in my uncle. The team won the WTT championship in 1975 and I was right there alongside Danny in the midst of the victory chaos.

Triangles win the title!
Danny McGibbeny takes in the championship moment as Pittsburgh Triangle Evonne Goolagong and Coach Vic Edwards hoist the WTT Cup in 1975.

Danny took me along on a couple road trips. I met Martina Navratilova, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Bobby Riggs, and so many other big name stars. Billie Jean King treated me to dinner in New York while her husband and Danny attended a league meeting. Evonne Goolagong and Vitas Gerulaitis, members of the Triangles, treated me like their own kid brother. I learned that the stars may seem like spoiled, over-grown children, but deep down they are just like regular people. That misconception never caught on with Danny. He had the world at his feet, but never let it go to his head. Gibby always kept himself firmly rooted in the basic tenets of family, friends and hard work.

In 1975 I was chosen to be a member of Danny's Stebbrook Senior League team. It was an honor for me and my desire to excel for him bordered on a mania. Despite his ever-increasing workload and travel schedule with the Pittsburgh Triangles, Danny rarely missed our Senior League games, and when he did the team was left in the capable hands of his assistant, "Knobby" Walsh. Even in 1977, his final year, he was always finding the time and energy to cheer the team on. Only during late-July, when his health took a turn for the worse did he consistently miss games.

1977 Healthland Senior League Team
Manager Danny McGibbeny with his Senior League baseball team in June 1977.

In retrospect I now realize that the act he put on for us, and everyone, that year was incredible. Being his nephew, you'd think I would have realized the depths of his pain. I knew he was sick, but I never saw him without a smile and was totally unaware that the end was near.

In fact, during the playoffs in 1977 I remember feeling terribly let down by his absence. Not knowing the true story, I was under the impression that he had gone out of town on business. I thought, "How could he foresake us like this?", and was angry. Little did I know that my parents had fabricated his business trip, and other stories, so I would not know that my uncle was lying in a hospital bed near death.

Anyhow, Danny missed Healthland's final games, including the playoffs, and the team lost in three games. We players really missed our #1 cheerleader and the inspiration his presence evoked. I've always felt a twinge of sadness that we couldn't bring that last title home for "The Gibber." To this day, it still hurts a little.

Also during those last few months, Danny was offered a position as commissioner of World Team Tennis, and courted by the Pirates and Steelers as a public relations man. He passed up these offers and instead tried his hand in the insurance field with Frank B. Fuhrer and Associates. The local sports dignitaries did not understand the move, but again "The Gibber" had 'em all fooled. The shock that hit on September 6, 1977, the day he passed away, reverberated not only through the Brookline community, but around the professional sports world as well.

Six years after Danny's death, in 1983, he was posthumously inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. It was the final official tribute to young Dan, who I'm sure would shrug off the recognition politely and wonder what all the fuss was about.

The most fitting tribute, however, may be Danny McGibbeny Memorial Field in Brookline Park, where hundreds of children play baseball every year, keeping alive the dreams of that young man of persistence, energy and courage. Daniel Patrick McGibbeny, son of Brookline, friend to many, and Uncle of mine may be gone, but he'll never be forgotten.

Danny McGibbeny.

Picture of Danny and Mickey, 1965.
Senior Little Leaguers Danny McGibbeny
and Mickey White in 1965.

* Below are a few editorials and commentaries
honoring Daniel Patrick McGibbeny *

Stan Savran, WWSW commentary, 9/7/77.

So your sitting there, filled with hope, after having watched or listened as the Pirates handcuffed the Phillies 3-1 in the first game of a double-header, only to have your hopes dashed as the Bucs get bombed 11-1. So your heart is attuned to the impossible as the Pirates bounce back to beat the Phillies and stay alive last night.

And you worry about the Steelers' injuries, and whether Pitt can beat Notre Dame Saturday, and you go to sleep at night wondering whether Al Savill will make some trades. And your son is only second string on the high school football team, and your daughter didn't make the cheerleading squad.

Unfortunately, it always takes a tragedy, or impending tragedy, to shake these superficial worries from your mind to concentrate on what's important. At least it does with me.

That's the way I greeted the terrible news that Danny McGibbeny died in Presbyterian Hospital yesterday. Twenty-six years old!

In case you've forgotten, McGibbeny was a member of the Pittsburgh Triangles, and more importantly, realized that I too had a job to do. A friendship developed. Not necessarily a social one, but one that was based on mutual respect.

How can you ever get used to a 26-year old dying? How can you swallow the fact that a life is gone, in essence, before it was fully lived? I guess you can't.

I can still see Danny sitting on the Triangle bench, coaching a sport he never played. But he smiled all through it, realizing how ludicrous it all was, him coaching people like Evonne Goolagong and Vitas Gerulaitis. That was his way. Smile.

I hope he was able to smile in the last few days. Maybe just a little bit. Danny was a true Pittsburgh sports personality, and I for one will miss him.

Joe Browne, Columnist - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/9/77.

The death of a young person, unlike the passing of an older one, stirs something deep inside all of us.

When I left a funeral home where Matty Rumin was laid out, I didn't feel too sad. Matty, a grand old reporter who helped break me in as a cub was 71 when he died and he had been suffering the last few months. "A blessing." That's what a lot of people said of his death.

But when I stopped in at the office and somebody said that young Danny McGibbeny had just died, it almost knocked me over. Only 26 years old! And what a good young guy! His whole life ahead of him. Like everybody in the office, I thought of his young wife, Dawn, and of his father, who works in our sports department, and of his mother.

Almost instinctively I said a prayer for young Dan and his family. It was just like a wise rabbi explained to me once - the value of ritual, all those things you learned as a kid, is that in a time of crisis or panic the right things come to your mind.

And, though the death of a young person does sadden me, it also strips away the superficialities and meanness and selfishness and weaknesses of the world. Not so strangely, you and I are better persons because of the death of young McGibbeny. And of Patty Veri and Denny Dougherty and of all those other young ones. I think of them and of what I should never forget.

The poets try to express it - "Death is a door that leads to light"..."The anchor of a love is death"..."Death breaks every bond"..."Well blest is he who has a loved one dead"...

I don't really understand it all but right now I'm looking through a darkened glass.

Richard S. Caligiuri, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Proclamation, 9/30/77.

By virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, I do hereby proclaim Saturday, October 8, 1977, "Danny McGibbeny Day" in the City of Pittsburgh in recognition of a young man who participated at an early age in Little League baseball, going through his childhood in the various steps of his league to become a manager of one of the teams in his adult years, and to a neighborhood boy who participated at Brookline Field and pursued his education and career as General Manager and Coach of the World Team Tennis professional Pittsburgh Triangles, and continued to come back and give of his time managing a Little League team until his death.

Danny McGibbeny's life exemplifies the activities of the City of Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Department program, maturing through the years with the responsibility and desire to put something back.

It therefor gives me great pleasure to name the new Brookline Park field "Danny McGibbeny Memorial Field" as a reminder to all those who knew Danny and to serve as an inspiration to the future generation of boys who will participate in the programs.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the City of Pittsburgh to be affixed.

Bill Currie, KDKA TV commentary, 10/5/77.

If the situation were reversed and Danny McGibbeny sat down to write something about me, you may be certain he would lace it with humor and in the finale slash his point across with an incisive thrust of style and talent.

Danny, who had so much style, so much ability, so much versatility and so much class that before his face knew the regularity of a razor he was commanding respect in a man's world.

He made a national reputation as Sports Information Director at Point Park with the most imaginative centerfold to his information brochure in recorded history. As Triangles publicity man, he moved to General Manager and Coach...and he did 'em all - commanding deference from snerd athletes who knew respect for nobody.

Danny died a couple of weeks ago. He will be honored on Saturday with a day proclaimed in his memory by Mayor Caligiuri. They're calling a recreation field after him. They are having a parade. That's well and good.

But I don't need a parade, nor a field bearing his name to perpetuate Danny McGibbeny in my heart and mind. He was my friend, who, without hesitation walked that second mile. We understand that all things are not good, but that all things work together for good.

In the inscrutable wisdom of Divine Providence it was decreed that Danny's life was to be brief, but glowing with a light of friendship and warmth. Danny will never be dead to me, but always alive and with us...enthusiastic, vibrant, and reaching for tomorrow.

Jack Bogut, KDKA Radio, 10/26/77.

"I was so sorry to hear about Danny. He was always one of my favorite people. To say that he was unique in his abilities and wise beyond his years would be a gross understatement. He continually amazed me with his ability to step up to a new challenge and hit home runs every time."

"No one can understand the grief and sense of loss, but for what its worth, this has made my relationship with my own son that much more poignant and immediate. Danny McGibbeny will continue to stand as a symbol for many young people to follow and will make many more father-son relationships come that much more in focus."

Bill Currie, KDKA TV commentary, 9/10/78.

Danny McGibbeny left us a year ago on September 6, and the reports were that he had died. But Danny continues to live, sharing his infectious smile and the force of his unique, multi-faceted abilities yet provides the impetus for positive and progressive innovations in the world of professional tennis where he made almost unbelievable contributions as General Manager, press agent, and finally, even coach of the Triangles.

Wednesday night in Boston when the WTT playoff begins between Los Angeles and Boston, the league will present for the first time, the Danny McGibbeny Memorial Award to...the best publicity man in the league. It's a good thing Danny is not in the running for he would surely win his own award annually.

The WTT had invited Dan Sr, Danny's mother and the beautiful girl with whom he shared so precious few years, Dawn, to be there as guests of the league. I think more of the WTT for it.

I knew Danny almost from the first day I got to town. He was a big guy with an incisive thinking apparatus; a skilled writer; a guy bursting with ideas, and capable of almost unbelievable amounts of exceptional work.

Barely past 26 when he left, Danny has a baseball field named for him, and his countless friends talk of him in the present tense. I don't miss him; I feel as though he is still around, and I feel even heaven is a better place because Danny's there.

"I cannot say and I will not say
that he is dead, he is just away.
With a cheery smile and a wave of hand
He has wandered to an unknown land,
and leaves us wondering how bright and fair
it needs to be since he lingers there."

Coach McGibbeny with Senior Leaguers, 1974.

Coach McGibbeny with his Triangles, 1976.

It didn't matter whether "Coach" McGibbeny was with his Senior Little League team Healthland (in 1974) or with the professional Triangles (in 1976), he always had a way of getting the most of his players. He had a unique talent with people of all ages.

Bill Winstein editorial cartoon
featuring Coach McGibbeny - 1976.
Post-Gazette Editorial Cartoon by Bill Winstein
depicting "Coach" McGibbeny - 1976.

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