Where Are They Now?
THEN: In 1976, Baltimore was abuzz with excitement. The Division II basketball rivalry between the Towson Tigers and the UB Bees was at a fever pitch as the two teams met in the Mason-Dixon Conference championship game, which would determine who would go on to the NCAA tournament.
“The rivalry was great because both teams were 90 percent Baltimore players,” says Frank Szymanski, M.S. ’77, who coached the team and served as the University’s athletic director. While Towson claimed victory by a mere three points in overtime, the 1976 Bees ended the season 24-4 and made their mark on Baltimore’s collegiate basketball history. (A 2007 Press Box Online article called the Bees of the ’70s “central figures in the best era of college basketball that this city has ever known.”)
The team’s success also shone the spotlight on hometown talent, Szymanski says. Upon joining UB in 1971, he noticed that college recruiters “would go from New York to Philly to D.C. and just hop over Baltimore.” Recognizing the city’s untapped talent, he says he “decided to build the team with local kids.”
One of those kids was George Pinchback, B.S. ’78, who started off as the team’s small forward and later transitioned to guard. “I could have gone somewhere else, but Frank made a really good sales pitch,” Pinchback says. He enrolled as a freshman and would go on to become a team standout and to receive All-Mason-Dixon Conference honors.
NOW: The Mason-Dixon Conference no longer exists, and today’s UB basketball team no longer competes at the NCAA level. But for Szymanski and Pinchback, the game has remained a large part of their lives.
Though UB’s athletic program dissolved in the early ’80s, Szymanski stayed on as a professor in the former Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts and as director of what was then called the UB Athletic Club until late 2003. These days, the now-retired Szymanski is content to coach his grandchildren and to play golf near his Easton, Maryland, home.
Pinchback turned his attention to officiating and has refereed high school and college games for 36 years. And while he officially retired in 2004, the Baltimore resident still works games and makes time to instruct up-and-coming officials—some of whom have made it to the NBA sidelines.
Szymanski and Pinchback were inducted into the University of Baltimore Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007, and both continue to keep tabs on their alma mater and the ever-changing campus.
Szymanski remembers eating lunch at Les Gals, a restaurant by day and a gentleman’s club by night. “But now there’s the most dynamic, beautiful building [there],” he says of the John and Frances Angelos Law Center.