Profiles

Wilbert Huffman

During the tough Depression years, Washington College produced many fine football, basketball and baseball teams. Coached by the inestimable J. Thomas Kibler and George Ekaitis, a steady flow of young men came to the small college on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and excelled. One of those was a strapping raw-boned youth from the Alleghenies, Wilbert Huffman. He first appeared in 1929, playing at fullback for Tom Kibler and scoring a touchdown in the only football victory of the season, a 20-13 win over American University.

In basketball he, along with Pat Gainer and “Red” Burk, were the top reserves for Kibler’s 16-5 team, led by captain Gerry Giraitis, that also included Hall of Famers Ed Stevens and Ollie Robinson as starters.

Hard financial time forced him out of college. He returned in 1934 to team up with William Beck “Swish” Nicholson on the greatest football team in College history. Under coach George Ekaitis, the Shoremen went undefeated, beating Delaware, Johns Hopkins, Mt. St. Mary’s, Haverford and Gallaudet. Only a 6-6 deadlock to Susquehanna marred a perfect season.

Huffman and Nicholson were known as the “Big Berthas” of the backfield. Huffman’s play earned him honorable mention All-Maryland honors on a team that included Hall of Famers Ellery Ward, Al Bilancioni, Ellis Dwyer, Hobart Tignor, John Lord, Charlie Berry, Gibby Young, Ace Wilmot, Ray Kilby and Ed Evans.

He was second in scoring in basketball that winter on a team that won 10 of 16 games. In baseball he was the starting catcher on a Maryland Intercollegiate champion team that won 12 of 14 games beating Maryland, George Washington and Penn State.

Huffman played a valiant role on Ekaitis’s injury-plagued 1935 football team and the 1935-36 basketball season saw his crowning achievement as he earned All State and All League honors. That campaign saw Kibler’s squad claw back from an upset at the hands of Western Maryland, to go twice into the cold lair at Emmittsburg and emerge with victories over Mt. St. Mary’s College for a Maryland Intercollegiate title. It was Huffman who drew the role of closing down Segadelli, the high-scoring ace of the Mounts. He did, three times during the season. His play earned him All-Maryland honors.

In baseball the arrival of freshman Howie Pfund forced Huffman into a utility role as a backup catcher, a few innings on the mound, some at first base and enough playing time in the outfield to bat .390 with 16 hits. It earned for him All-Maryland Baltimore Sun honors at the utility position. He played football that fall when Washington went 4-2-1. His “line bucking and line backing” was deemed outstanding by state sportswriters, but his athletic career came to a close as a reserve in basketball early in 1937 when he left school, not to return.

Washington College is proud to include Wilbert A. Huffman, a three-sport star, as a 1997 inductee into the Athletic Hall of Fame.