William P. Byrne '28 (Football, Boxing, Baseball)

Inducted 1978

Bill Byrne received his nickname, “Battler,” from boxing but his first love was baseball. He could do pretty good battle there, too.

In 1926 he pitched a 5-4 complete-game victory over national power Yale, a team that usually had its way with the Cardinals. The Redbirds scored five times in the bottom of the ninth to win.

“A great deal of the credit for the win goes to Byrne for his great exhibition of hurling,” according to Catholic University’s student newspaper, The Tower. “The Yale players came here with a reputation for slugging but Battler let them down with only six hits and though they scored four runs, only one of them was an earned run. Byrne seemed to be the strongest in the pinches and several times retired the side with one or two men on base.”

Byrne that same year threw a five-hitter in a 6-3 win over West Virginia. In a 9-8 victory over Delaware in 1927, he pitched hitless ball for the first five innings and knocked in the winning run with a one-out single in the ninth. He also shut out Syracuse, 3-0, in 1927, allowing eight hits and walking one.

Byrne, who hailed from New York and went to high school in Danvers, Mass., was on the first boxing team at CUA in 1925. The lightweight helped the squad punctuate the following season with a 4-3 victory over Virginia Tech before 4,000 fans at sold-out Brookland Gymnasium. He secured the win in the third and final round with a couple of body blows and a number of head shots that left his opponent groggy.

Byrne became captain in 1927, and The Tower described him prior to the first bout as “one of the cleverest boxers that ever wore a pair of padded mittens for C.U.” In a victory that season over Washington and Lee’s captain, he closed his opponent’s left eye early in the first round and cruised to victory. After helping the team defeat Fordham his senior year, he had to give up the sport to concentrate on his studies.

Primarily a reserve end in football, he caught a 50-yard touchdown in a 53-0 spanking of Blue Ridge in 1926.

Chris McManes
July 2012