The Cardinal Gibbons School, also referred to as Cardinal Gibbons, CG and most commonly as Gibbons, was a Roman Catholic high school and middle school for boys in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. A private institution for grades 6–12, Gibbons drew its enrollment from the neighborhoods of southwest Baltimore City and the counties surrounding the Baltimore metropolitan area, with some as far away as Harford County, Carroll County and Frederick County.
Named in honor of Baltimore's most distinguished churchman, James Cardinal Gibbons, the school was established in 1962 by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Gibbons occupied the former site of St. Mary’s Industrial School, a reform school for boys and the Alma Mater of baseball great George Herman "Babe" Ruth. Following extensive renovations of the old St. Mary’s campus in the early 1960s, the Cardinal Gibbons School opened. The school grew to its peak enrollment of just over 1,000 students in the mid-1970s. In 1988, the school expanded its academic programs with the addition of a middle school. The middle school program ceased operation following the 2009 academic school year. Due to economic strains on the Archdiocese, in addition to declining enrollment at Gibbons, it was announced the school would close following the conclusion of the 2009–2010 school year.
Gibbons was a college preparatory middle and high school, with core curriculum courses in literature, religious studies, mathematics, laboratory science, social sciences and history, fine arts, physical education, technology, and foreign language. Gibbons offered a variety of Advanced Placement courses, including joint courses with neighboring all-girls high school, Seton Keough to the south. Gibbons also offered dual enrollment courses in conjunction with the Community College of Baltimore County. All students at Gibbons were held to academic integrity through the use of an honor code.
A long-standing rivalry existed between Cardinal Gibbons and nearby high school Mount Saint Joseph College in the Irvington neighborhood of southwest Baltimore. Due to their close proximity and frequent meetings in playoffs and tournaments in basketball, the rivalry intensified as Gibbons' basketball program established itself as a championship program in the 1970s. The rivalry grew to include other sports and academics as well.
Organizations have been established to make attempts to reopen the school, but the school continues to remain closed. The grounds are not used for academics, although local schools and sport programs have made use of the athletic facilities. In 2012, neighboring St. Agnes Hospital purchased the old Gibbons property and plans to incorporate the old campus into its growing medical facilities. The new renovated facility will be known as the Gibbons Commons.
Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys was opened in Baltimore City in 1866 by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The school served as both an orphanage and boarding school for boys, teaching them life and labor skills. Archbishop Martin Spalding at the time, called for the need of such a school, and enlisted the aid of the Xaverian Brothers to assist in running the school for the Archdiocese. As attendance at the school grew, the large original granite Victorian building was constructed and in use by 1868.
In 1874, the school took on a new role. The school continued to grow and enroll more young boys, fostering and building them into men. The curriculum consisted of academic classes, religious education, sports periods, and work in industrial areas. Some areas of instruction included basket-making, bottle-covering, baking, gardening, tailoring, and farming.
In 1902, a young boy named George Herman Ruth, later known as "the Babe," was enrolled at St. Mary’s by his parents. He would become one of St. Mary’s most notable alumni, learning the game of baseball at St. Mary’s under the tutelage of Brother Matthias. In 1919, a fire destroyed much of the old Victorian styled campus. Alumnus Babe Ruth, who at the time was a member of the New York Yankees, asked to take the St. Mary's School band along on "road trips" to several major league ballparks around the Northeast, in an attempt to raise money to replace the main school building.
The industrial school continued to serve the community, but with declining numbers of pupils and orphans requiring such an environment, the school finally ceased operations in 1950. St. Mary’s has become known as "the House that built Ruth." Although much of the original St. Mary’s campus was destroyed, one building remains from the original structure of 1866-1868 and another from the reconstruction after the 1919 fire. Both buildings were utilized by the Cardinal Gibbons School. The athletic field that Babe learned to play baseball on was utilized by the Cardinal Gibbons baseball teams from 1962 until closing, affectionately calling their baseball diamond, "Babe Ruth Field."
When Cardinal Gibbons High School opened in September 1962, it was not totally unfamiliar to Baltimore as some new institutions are to their community. On the corner of Wilkens and Caton Avenues, where the large old Victorian styled stone walls of the old Industrial School once were, another Catholic institution was founded and constructed, to succeed St. Mary's Industrial School which had performed almost a century of service for the community of metropolitan Baltimore.
In 1959, then Archbishop Francis Keough chose the ground of the vacant St. Mary's buildings for a new diocesan high school campus, with room for athletic fields and religious community housing. A considerable construction and renovation project ensued, utilizing buildings from the original and rebuilt St. Mary's campuses along with new buildings for the school. Archbishop Keough contacted the Marianists, who had previously taught at several local grammar schools in the diocese. The Marianists agreed to return to Baltimore and take charge of the new high school. Brother Matthew Betz, S.M., was appointed the first principal of the new school.
In September 1962, the school was operating with a working faculty of nine, including a secretary, janitor, and 150 freshmen. On September 8, 1963, the Archbishop Lawrence Cardinal Shehan presided over the sealing of the main building's cornerstone and the dedication of the new school to Baltimore's and America's most distinguished churchman at the turn of the century, James Cardinal Gibbons, the former ninth Archbishop of Baltimore.
Over the years, the Cardinal Gibbons High School continued to grow and develop. By the 1968–1969 school year, the "Crusaders" made sports headlines with the championship play of both the varsity basketball and baseball teams. Coach O. Ray Mullis established a Maryland Scholastic Association and later a Baltimore Catholic League basketball dynasty at Gibbons over the next decade. Gibbons would go on to make a name for itself as a powerhouse for academics and athletics in the southwest Baltimore region.
In 1988, the Cardinal Gibbons School added a Middle School Program, enrolling students in grades 6 through 8. Formerly known as Cardinal Gibbons High School, the school adopted its final name, the Cardinal Gibbons School. In 2001, the Cardinal Gibbons School switched to the President-Principal model, naming Brother Kevin Strong, F.S.C. the first President of the school. That year, the school also joined the LaSallian Network of Schools.
The middle school program continued successfully until the end of the 2009 school year. The middle school graduated its last eighth grade class the following year. Due to decreased enrollment and financial strains on both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the surrounding communities, Gibbons headed toward closing its doors.
On March 3, 2010, the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced it would close Gibbons at the end of the 2009–2010 school year, as part of a broader consolidation of twelve other Baltimore parochial schools in the face of declining enrollment and reports of Archdiocesan financial losses. Members of the Cardinal Gibbons board, alumni, students and staff expressed distress at the decision and, in April, explored possible ways to buy the property and continue the school independently, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Linda Ruth Tosetti, Babe Ruth's granddaughter, lamented the possible loss of another of the places important in her grandfather's history, on the heels of the recent razing and replacement of the old Yankee Stadium in 2009, affectionately known as the "House that Ruth Built". In response to the closing, alumni and supporters of Gibbons formed Gibbons Educational Services (G.E.S.), a non-profit organization devoted to fostering the memory of the school.
In March 2012, it was announced that next door St. Agnes Hospital reached an agreement with the Archdiocese to purchase the property. Plans for the property include subsidized apartments, office space, retail and restaurant space, and a YMCA location. In 2016, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation finished renovations and reopened "Babe Ruth Field," given its significance to Baltimore and American baseball history. The property is still under development and construction.
Babe Ruth Field was home to the Cardinal Gibbons baseball team. Located on the site of the same grounds of the field that young George Herman Ruth learned to play the game on, the field was home to a storied and successful baseball program for over a century. Ruth Field was unique in its shape, with center field reaching to 442 feet. During the St. Mary's Industrial School era, home plate was in the present day outfield. According to local legend, while a student, young George Ruth hit a home run from there to Caton Avenue to the west, almost a 600-foot home run. The field was the center of the campus, and is still visible from Caton Avenue.
As the only building to survive the fire of 1919 on campus, the Fine Arts building was part of the original structure of the old St. Mary's Industrial School. It was constructed during opening of St. Mary's. In this building, Babe Ruth spent time working on the various trade and industrial requirements where he especially excelled at the trade of tailoring for the St. Mary's curriculum. Before closing, this building housed Cardinal Gibbons' fine arts classrooms for art and music, and student activities center, and the Justin Fisher Memorial weightroom in the bottom level.
"The Grotto" was an area on the Cardinal Gibbons campus that held special meaning to alumni and the Gibbons community. In 1968, a plane crashed in the mountains of western Maryland. Three students and one teacher perished in the crash, Mike Slovatinek, Mark Mitchell, Paul Deminnis, and Brother Ben Borchers, respectively. All four were part of the Cardinal Gibbons School flying club, and were returning from a trip to Ohio to visit the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton. In "The Grotto" was a statue of Mary and a plaque adorning the statue with the names of those lost in the crash. The statue was relocated from "The Grotto" to St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Elkridge, Maryland.
The school required 28 credits to graduate, 15 hours of community service per year, and mandatory attendance in the school's campus ministry program, including retreats and service opportunities. The school, in joint partnership with the neighboring all-girls Seton Keough High School shared special classes between the two high schools. Gibbons also offered dual enrollment courses with the Community College of Baltimore County.
While many Gibbons teams achieved success and won championships in their respective sports, perhaps the most notable success was that of the basketball program. For over 31 years, Gibbons basketball was led by local coaching legend, O. Ray Mullis. During his tenure as coach, Mullis and the Gibbons basketball program amassed over 600 career victories and 31 league or tournament championships, including a record 6 Baltimore Catholic League championships.
Maryland Scholastic Association, (1964-1993); Baltimore Catholic League†, (1974-2010, Basketball only); Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, (1993-2010).
In 2009, Cardinal Gibbons formed a Cricket Club, the first of its kind in any high school in the state of Maryland, to regularly play and compete in the English national sport. A travel team would go on to play several youth teams in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. The director of the Gibbons cricket program, Jamie Harrison, would go on to found the United States Youth Cricket Association.
In over forty-eight years of Gibbons' existence, its alumni have charted many interesting and successful courses:Al Jolson, (1886-1950) – Singer, comedian, silent film actor, first to speak in a "talkie" film with sound (1927), St. Mary's Industrial School Alumnus
Norman Black, '75 – former professional basketball player, NBA
Dylon Cormier, '10 - professional basketball player, ZZ Leiden
Quintin Dailey, '79 – former professional basketball player, NBA
Bob Flynn – former basketball coach for Gibbons and McDaniel College
Kenny Hasbrouck, '04 – professional basketball player, ACB and NBA
Donatas Visockis, '04 – professional basketball player, BBL
Leon Williams, '04 - professional basketball player, various international leagues
Steve Wojciechowski, '94 – former Duke University basketball player and current head men's basketball coach at Marquette University
Roger Brown, '86 – former NFL player with the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants
Jean Fugett, '68 – former NFL player with the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins
Vaughn Hebron, '89 – former NFL player with the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos
Kiero Small, '07 – professional NFL player with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens
George Herman ("Babe") Ruth, '14 – National Hall of Fame baseball player, St Mary's Industrial School Alumnus, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Braves
Mark E. Ferguson III, '74 – Admiral, U.S. Navy(retired), former Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples and 37th Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
Patrick Finnegan – Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret.), Past Dean of Academics, United States Military Academy, Former President, Longwood University
Edward Hargadon, '72 - Circuit Court of Maryland, 8th Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Judge
George F. Johnson, IV, '71 – Current superintendent of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police
James E. Malone, Jr., '75 – Delegate, District 12A, Maryland House of Delegates
Brian K. McHale, '72 – Delegate, District 46, Maryland House of Delegates
Walter J. Shandrowsky, '66 – Delegate, District 31, Maryland House of Delegates