O'Donnell: A dentist, a priest and the lost local hopes of the Dayton Flyers

  • COURTESY OF JACK KEEHANJack Keehan, a dentist in Hoffman Estates, had Dayton pegged for this season's Final Four.

    COURTESY OF JACK KEEHANJack Keehan, a dentist in Hoffman Estates, had Dayton pegged for this season's Final Four.

  • COURTESY OF JACK KEEHANJack Keehan playing for the University of Dayton in 1971.

    COURTESY OF JACK KEEHANJack Keehan playing for the University of Dayton in 1971.

  • Rev. Terry Keehan at Holy Family Catholic Community Church in Inverness.

      Rev. Terry Keehan at Holy Family Catholic Community Church in Inverness. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 4/5/2020 3:52 PM

IN A PERFECT WORLD, Jack and Terry Keehan would be intensely focused on TBS's coverage of The Final Four from Atlanta this weekend.

That would be Dr. Jack Keehan of Elgin, long a dentist in Hoffman Estates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And younger brother Rev. Terry Keehan, pastor of the vibrant Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness.

Within that perfect world would be the Dayton Flyers, the No. 3-ranked team in America when so much of normal life began to splinter three weeks ago.

The Flyers and sinewy force Obi Toppin loomed as a No. 1 seed.

They also appeared poised to offer UD its best chance at a national championship since the keenly fluid Don May and Co. lost the title game to sophomore Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and UCLA in 1967.

That same year -- 1967 -- was when Dr. Jack entered the UD program.

"I caught Don May's final season, 1967-68, when UD won the NIT," Dr. Keehan said.

"Freshmen weren't eligible, although I played all of my seasons with Kenny May, Don's brother.

"Under coach Don Donoher, in the three varsity years, we made the NCAA twice and the NIT once."

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As for Rev. Terry -- seven years younger -- he was a very good player on a very challenged St. Viator varsity (Class of '74) who wound up with a four-year scholarship to Nebraska-Omaha.

After getting a master's in organizational communications, he spent close to three years in pharmaceutical sales before entering the seminary in 1983.

He has been pastor at Holy Family since 2009.

"And you have to understand, Jack was my great basketball hero when I was growing up," Rev. Keehan said.

"He was 6-foot-8 and a tremendous athlete. Our father was an executive with International Harvester, so Jack first touched the UD radar playing his first two seasons at Elder High School in Cincinnati.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Then we got transferred to San Mateo, Calif., where Jack totally blossomed."

When Dr. Keehan was a senior, one of the point guards on the Serra High varsity was a 5-foot-6 freshman scrapper named Lynn Swann.

Another notable Serra alum -- Class of '95 -- now lists a new Florida address under the name "Tom Brady."

The family was transferred by Harvester to Arlington Heights in 1967.

And about this weekend?

Said Dr. Jack: "I really think UD was a Final Four team. I attended the 50th anniversary of the university arena in December and all of us thought the potential was there.

"Sure we were prejudiced. But then this team, under Coach (Anthony) Grant just kept getting better and better, all the way to the suspension of the Atlantic 10 tournament."

Rev. Terry cloaks his projection in more ecumenical optimism:

"Of course I'd like to think 'yes.'

"But in the end, God only knows."

THE DEATH OF ED FARMER brings to an end a life driven by determination, precisely niched talent and constantly recurring touches of fate, both good and bad.

Farmer's great free-agent winter of 1980-81 as the White Sox's lone All-Star was undermined by a quirk of timing involving the transfer of ownership from Bill Veeck and partners to Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie Einhorn and associates.

Rather than sign a multiyear deal with the Sox worth $2 million or so, Farmer and agent Steve Greenberg wound up in arbitration, settling for a one-year, $495,000 pact.

Farmer vowed never to play for the White Sox again after 1981 and he didn't.

He got a four-year, $1.8 million contract from the Phillies beginning in 1982 but was out of MLB by the end of the 1983 season.

As a broadcaster, Farmer was once called "refreshingly bland" by The Chicago Tribune.

His droll sense of humor came into play during the 1981 season when he was still an alpha presence in the Sox locker room

Manager Tony La Russa walked in one afternoon wearing a WLUP-FM (97.9) "The Loop" jacket, unconsciously thinking it was still happening because of the station's 1979 sponsorship of "Disco Demolition."

As judge of the team's kangaroo court, Farmer fined LaRussa $20.

When La Russa the real-life lawyer asked why, Farmer replied:

"Because Steve (Dahl) and Garry (Meier) are on WLS-FM now."

STREET-BEATIN': Those brutal layoffs at WSCR-AM (670) Thursday were all too endemic of the new American dread. One rough loss was relentless digger David Schuster -- a year away from retirement -- and now industry analysts are wondering if parent Entercom will choose between Ron Gleason of WBBM-AM (780) and Mitch Rosen of "The Score" to program both stations. ...

News that DePaul has re-signed Dave Leitao through the 2023-24 season has left many heavy hearts in the remaining Blue Demons men's basketball community. ...

Buoyant Cheryl Raye-Stout and Lisa Labuz of WBEZ-FM (91.5) crafted a terrific piece for "All Things Considered" about antsy area Olympians, including rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng of Libertyville and wrestler Robby Smith, currently training at Northwestern. ...

NBC and CBS -- the NFL's senior TV partners -- will be the recipients of those two new wild-card games. ...

Short-lived Bull Jay Williams -- now with FS1 -- suggested that the NBA hold its playoffs on cruise ships. (For sure -- and maybe Bernie "Doc" Kopell and Kathie Lee Gifford can officiate.) ...

And Sir Walter Ruston, on all of those "Best Sports Movies Ever" lists filling empty time and space, deadpanned, "Unless it includes Pee-wee Herman winning The Tour de France, I don't think any survey has credibility."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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