Pat Farabaugh knows his way around basketball at St. Francis University. Farabaugh, who is in his third year on the communications faculty at the school, also worked as the sports information director from 1999 until 2005, giving the word on a number of athletic stories from the Loretto campus to various media outlets.
This spring, Farabaugh’s story of one of the Red Flash’s greatest men’s basketball players and a friendship made after his days at St. Francis hit bookshelves.
“An Unbreakable Bond: The Brotherhood of Maurice Stokes and Jack Twyman” chronicles the friendship between Stokes and Twyman, a pair of Pittsburghers who ended up as teammates with the Rochester then Cincinnati Royals – now the Sacramento Kings – of the NBA, one that grew stronger when Stokes fell awkwardly and hit his head off the floor in 1958. The fall left Stokes paralyzed from the neck down, causing Twyman to step in and become Stokes’ legal guardian and assume responsibility for his overwhelming medical expenses.
“It’s a basketball story, but it is so much more than that,” Farabaugh said. “At its essence, it is the story of two men – one who overcame tremendous challenges and another who embodied selflessness.”
While the book focuses on the friendship between the two, St. Francis’ ties to the Johnstown region and some of the program’s most important games played at Cambria County War Memorial Arena are discussed at great length in Farabaugh’s book.
Plenty of detail goes into St. Francis’ upset of No. 2-ranked Duquesne at the War Memorial in 1955.
“Johnstown and the Cambria County War Memorial are an important part of the history of St. Francis basketball,” Farabaugh said. “For most folks in this area, the arena is synonymous with hockey. When St. Francis and Duquesne met at the War Memorial or at the Duquesne Gardens during the 1950s, however, the eyes of the college basketball world were on western Pennsylvania.”
Researching for the book was a labor of love for the self-professed basketball junkie, but he did note a few snags along the way.
“Unfortunately, some of the key players in the story have passed away – people who would have been valuable sources,” said Farabaugh, who interviewed Twyman extensively during the summer of 2011. “Plus, as the years go by, memories fade. As a historian, you want to do your best to make sure you get it right.”
The book’s release coincides with the 60th anniversary of St. Francis’ first National Invitational Tournament appearance in 1954.
The book, published by St. Johann Press in Haworth, N.J., is available online at Amazon.com, at the St. Francis University Bookstore or directly through Farabaugh, who can be reached through email at PFarabaugh@francis.edu or by phone at (814) 341-4678.
Farabaugh noted that his next book project will chronicle the 1977 Johnstown Flood.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.