Wednesday, April 3, 1985
By Howard Goodman
Inquirer Staff Writer
Delta Flight 392 - fairly hijacked by exultant and exhausted Villanova fans -flew from Lexington, Ky., to Philadelphia yesterday on something stronger than jet fuel.
Dozens of revelers, wearing Wildcat caps and T-shirts, clutching souvenir posters and programs, chanted Villanova fight songs and cheers as the plane taxied toward takeoff. The hum in the cabin was a blue charge that started the night before at wild Rupp Arena, a victory vibe that carried the jet much higher than 30,000 feet.
"I've been wearing this for three days," said Chick Hamlin, a Media high school teacher, tipping the brim of a blue-and-white painter's cap with the prophetic words: "Rollie and His Wildcats Are #1. "
"Exciting, exciting - there's no other way to describe it. " He was surrounded by passengers ordering the last drinks of a hallucinatory four-day weekend. They were all becoming aware that as the party was fading, a lasting piece of sports lore was growing.
And they had been there.
There weren't many superlatives left but "great."
"Great," said a smiling Irv Wisniewski, a former University of Delaware basketball coach to whom Final Four tournaments are old hat. This one, though, was special - a 66-64 victory over a Georgetown team that only perfection could beat.
"They build up the Super Bowl, and most of those are anticlimactic," he said. "This one was just what it was meant to be. It was meant to be a climax and it was.
"As the game was ending, I noticed, people weren't leaving. They were still coming in. And the way they stood and cheered the players when they got their awards - I loved the way the people appreciated them. "
Adam Lamb, a Penn freshman in a Wildcat baseball cap and face paint, also paid tribute to the Villanovans: "My dad and his friends go to the finals every year, and they said that this year there was the most cheering of any one. "
Georgetown student Nancy Sarkis, taking the flight all the way home to Boston, felt conspicuous wearing her "Hoya Power" pin. "Maybe I should cover it," she said.
Sad as losing was, she confessed: "I think it's kind of neat that Villanova won. They were the underdog, and they worked hard, and it was no fluke. I think Villanova definitely played a super game. They hit everything! We won so often. It seemed so impossible we could lose. "
CBS announcer Dick Stockton, ordering a Bloody Mary in first class, already had the game in perspective. He was among a group of television crew people who made a stop in Cincinnati for connecting flights. They were distinguishable by their natty sweaters and sport coats in network blue, and by their tennis rackets.
"I thought it was like the '75 World Series," said Stockton. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Boston Red Sox in that storied series, winning a seventh game that felt like a laughing afterthought after six thrilling games that were a model of see-sawing valor.
"As time goes on," Stockton said, "people will regard this championship as maybe the standout against which all the others will be measured. I think it will truly be seen as a classic, not this year or next year, maybe. I think it will stand the test of time."