TIMES WERE TOUGH, and the only way that Tom McHugh could get his cherished college education was through his athletic prowess.
Because of his skill at basketball at Brooklyn Prep, he was offered two scholarships - one to St. Joseph's University and one to St. John's University.
He chose St. Joe's because the scholarship included books, which St. John's did not. That's how tight things were for this kid from Brooklyn who lost his father at an early age.
Tom became something of a legend at St. Joe's. Although he won the scholarship for basketball, he wasn't really that fond of the sport. He wanted to play baseball.
He met with the baseball managers and told them he was an outfielder.
"Well, we need a pitcher," they told him.
"OK, I can pitch," Tom responded.
The first time he ever picked up a ball to pitch in a game, in May 1951, he hurled a no-hitter against Temple University.
He became the first Hawk to throw a no-hitter in the 28 years St. Joe's had fielded a baseball team.
But this accomplishment was not to be the only time that Tom McHugh dazzled folks with his expertise, his drive and his determination, which carried over to the business world, where he became a highly regarded investment counselor and administrator.
Thomas J. McHugh, who helped a number of important area business firms make money over the years, who founded his own investment company and who most recently was managing director of Logan Capital Management, died Saturday of congestive heart failure. He was 78 and lived in Haverford.
Tom was forever grateful to St. Joe's for giving him an education, and he supported the university the rest of his life, serving nine years as a member of the board of trustees and chairman of the finance committee.
He also was director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute, and one of the benefits he enjoyed was a trip sponsored by the institute to Israel and Rome.
He was proud of having been inducted in 2004 into the St. Joseph's University Baseball Hall of Fame, hailed by classmates who came from all over the country to honor him.
After graduating from St. Joe's in 1954, Tom went to Wall Street as a fiduciary counsel. But he had fallen in love with Philadelphia - not to mention an attractive young lady named Patricia Silcox.
They had met on a blind date, but Patricia was not that thrilled with him. For one thing, there was the matter of their heights. She was 5-1, he was 6-1.
He had to fall on his face in a creek to finally win her.
The occasion was a car crash on City Avenue. Tom was thrown out of the convertible he was riding in and landed in a creek, face-first, breaking his jaw in several places.
While recuperating in a hospital, his fondest wish, conveyed to friends and family members, was that Patricia would visit him. She agreed to do so, and love blossomed. They were married in December 1956.
After returning to Philadelphia from New York, Tom went to work for Fidelity Trust Co., and from there to Reliance Insurance Co.
In 1964, he became chief investment officer for Pitcairn Inc., where he took a portfolio worth about $150 million and grew it to more than a billion dollars. He was a growth specialist, and he earned that designation in spectacular fashion.
Tom remained with Pitcairn for 21 years before founding McHugh Associates Inc. in 1986. He was chief executive officer and chairman of the board until it was sold earlier this year.
Another of Tom's important business endeavors was his association with the former Rouse Co., developer of shopping malls, including the Gallery in Philadelphia. He was chairman of the finance and compensation committees for 19 years.
Tom was one of the original investors in Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp., and was on the board of numerous corporations.
Asked to describe her father, his daughter Polly Richman said, "He walked on water."
"He was a fabulous man," she said. "Tall, dark and handsome and athletic. He had such a positive attitude. People wanted to be around him."
Tom was a devoted Phillies fan and also had Flyers season tickets. His wife was weaned gradually into the realm of sports fandom.
"I asked her why she went to games with Dad and she said, 'I want to sit next to Dad. I don't care what he watches.'
"Here was this man with a New York accent, rooting for the Phillies," his daughter said.
Tom played tennis and golf, and liked to chill out at his summer home in Avalon. He also had homes in Boston and Blufton, S.C., near Hilton Head.
Besides his wife and daughter, he is survived by two sons, Thomas J. McHugh Jr. and Ned McHugh; two other daughters, Josie Quigley and Allegra Cosgrove; a sister, Mary McHugh Flahive, and 14 grandchildren.
Services: Funeral Mass 11 a.m. Thursday at St. John Vianney Church, Youngsford and Conshohocken State roads, Gladwyne. Friends may call at 9:30 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Conshohocken.