Yale University

Class News

Remembrances of Bill Madden ("Madds") — The "City Kid"

by Dennis Lynch ('64)
May 23, 2003

When I heard that Bill Madden died a few days ago, I was deeply saddened. I hadn't spoken to Bill in several months and had no idea of how much he had struggled to stay alive in recent days. A few years ago Bill had had a minor stroke and also surgery to remove part of a malignant lung. The latter procedure was a real shock to all of us because Bill was not a smoker. Notwithstanding these two physical setbacks, he made an excellent recovery and resumed the practice of law. Although in many ways Madds was a typical engaging, redheaded Irishman, he was often circumspect in sharing certain aspects of his personal life, even with close friends. We learned about many of his problems well after the fact. Now he is dead and I regret that I did not have a chance to see him before he died.

Madds and I went back many years. Long before we were born, our fathers were the closest of friends. We were "city kids," born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. As young children and then as adolescents, we played football, basketball and baseball together with the changing of the seasons. We were scrappers who always hustled and never took anything for granted. When we played three-on-three basketball games, we knew that the winners stayed to play the next threesome and the losers would have to wait another hour to play again. These pressured filled games were instrumental in promoting a strong determination in both of us to give our very best. Both Bill and I were highly competitive by-products of this intense city experience.

After graduating from Stevens Academy, Bill headed to Yale to make his mark on the hardwood floors of the Payne Whitney Gym. When my dad and I went on our college tour, we stopped at Yale. Bill escorted me around the campus and took me to a varsity basketball game. I was hooked. Three years later the "city kids" would be the starting guards on the 1962 Yale Ivy-League Championship Team.

As a "city kid" Madds maximized his talents. He wasn't particularly fast and he was not known for his elevation off the floor. But he could and did shoot, sometimes to the dismay of our coach Joe Vancisin. However, his one hand "push" jump shot cracked many zone defenses during his distinguished basketball career. Bill was a savvy player who used his intelligence as much as his jump shot. He perfected the art of drawing fouls because he was an excellent foul shooter. Bill led the team in foul-shot percentage in each of his three seasons as a starter. Not only was he was confident in himself but also he eventually learned to trust his teammates.

In his senior year as captain, Bill realized that the sophomore class, led by future All-American Rick Kaminsky, was one of the best in Yale basketball history. Madds also figured that he had a good chance to lead Yale to a championship season. In recognition of his team's potential, he made necessary adjustments to his offensive game and became a more complete player. Bill scored fewer points in his senior year than he had as a junior. Indeed, our team would never have achieved the success that we did without Bill's willingness to score less. The result of his efforts was the 1962 Ivy-League Championship with Bill's selection to First Team All-Ivy and honorable mention All-American. As Ivy-League Champion, Yale went down to Philadelphia to play the top seeded team Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Eastern Regional Championships at the Palestra. We were prohibitive under-dogs. However, the game was a barnburner. Both teams were dead even for nearly forty minutes of regulation. At the very end of the game, we missed a one-and-one foul shot for the win. Our fairy tale season ended in overtime, as we finally succumbed to the team ranked third in the country. While we were all devastated by the loss, we also realized that we had accomplished a great deal for ourselves and for Yale. It would not have happened without the "city kid."

We send our condolences to his mother Marian, his sister Peggy, his love Judy, his son Kyle, and all those people so dear to him, knowing how much they and we will miss him. However, I know that if there is a basketball hoop in heaven, Bill will be proposing a little game of Horse with St. Peter and all the Saints. I make Madds a 6-5 favorite to win it all.