Long before the 3-point shot and the slam dunk became staples of college basketball, Jim Lacy made history.
Lacy, who died Feb. 15 at the age of 87, was the first player in NCAA history to score 2,000 points. A Baltimore native, Lacy scored 2,199 points at Loyola College (now Loyola University) from 1943-44 and 1946-49. Lacy still holds the school's men's basketball scoring record 65 years after he shot his last basket.
Lacy, the nation's top scorer during the 1946-47 season, with a 20.8 points-per-game average, is still the leader in several of Loyola's career statistical categories. He scored 44 points during a 1948 victory against then-Western Maryland College, a single-game record he shares with fellow Loyola Hall of Famer Joel Hittleman. No Greyhound has eclipsed his career totals of 796 field goals and 613 free throws.
Lacy remained the top career scorer in NCAA basketball history until the 1953-54 season, when Furman's Frank Selvy overtook his mark. A 6-foot-2 guard, Lacy led the Greyhounds to the best four-year stretch in school history. Under the direction of head coach Emil "Lefty" Reitz, the Greyhounds raced to an 84-39 record during the Lacy years.
Lacy's legacy extended beyond basketball. After graduating from Loyola, he was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA and the Washington Capitals of the Basketball Association of America. But Lacy bypassed a professional basketball career, choosing to work in the insurance industry in Baltimore. A graduate of Loyola Blakefield, Lacy also served as the Baltimore City fire commissioner.
Lacy remained loyal to his alma mater and connected with several generations of people there, said Joe Boylan, who served as Loyola's director of athletics from 1991-2010.
"My dad took me to see Jim play when I was young," Boylan said. "And when I got the job at Loyola, Jim was one of the first guys to reach out to me. We became good friends, and he was always very supportive."
Boylan recalled the relationships that Lacy had developed with two of the school's former men's basketball coaches.
"He really connected with Skip Prosser during the year that Skip was [at Loyola]," Boylan said, "and he just loved Jimmy Patsos' passion for the game."
Patsos, who is now the head men's basketball coach at Siena College after leading the Loyola program for nine seasons, said he admired Lacy's even-keeled nature.
"Jim Lacy was cool," Patsos said. "Whether we had a good game or a bad game, he was the same. He judged you by your body of work, not just one game."
Lacy was also generous in his praise for two Loyola players who later approached, or passed, his scoring records. He encouraged Greyhound guard Kevin Green, who took aim at Lacy's career scoring mark during the 1991-92 season. Green, who played for the Greyhounds from 1988-92, finished with 2,154 points, 45 points shy of Lacy's school record. In 1995, Lacy was on hand at Reitz Arena to congratulate Patty Stoffey on the night she passed his career point total. Stoffey, who scored 2,467 points from 1991-95, is the only Loyola basketball player to eclipse Lacy's standard of 2,199.
"Jim Lacy was a dominant figure on the basketball court at Loyola, but he was an even more beloved person for his gentle and caring demeanor," current Loyola director of athletics Jim Paquette said in a statement. "He was called 'Gentleman Jim,' and we are forever grateful that he is a part of Loyola history."
Throughout his life, Lacy remained one of Baltimore's biggest sports boosters. During the early 1980s, he teamed with longtime WBAL-TV sportscaster Vince Bagli to form the Second Thursday Lunch program. It began as a small gathering of friends, including Lacy, Bagli, former Oriole public address announcer Rex Barney and longtime Baltimore Evening Sun sports editor Bill Tanton.
Through the years, the group that assembled at J. Patrick's Pub in Locust Point expanded to include many local sports fans and figures. Noted guest speakers, including Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas and Wes Unseld, spoke to the Second Thursday group on regular occasions. The Second Thursday series is now sponsored by PressBox and held monthly at Padonia Ale House.
"Jim was one of the founders of the Second Thursday group," said Lenny Miller, one of Lacy's longtime friends. "The prestige of guys like Jim and Vince Bagli helped it grow, and it eventually became a spot on everybody's calendar.
"He was a stalwart and cornerstone of our group for many years. Jim was one of the finest gentlemen that I ever knew. He was very personable, and a guy that everyone liked."
Lacy, who was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy, and daughter Joan, is survived by sons Jimmy and Bob and daughters Mary Daily and Loretta. A funeral mass will be held at St. Ignatius Church (740 N. Calvert St. in Baltimore) at 10 a.m. Feb. 19 .