Having prepped at Manlius School, following his all-parochial League scholastic years at St. Anthony’s, Don Savage stayed at home collegiately. But in 1947, the campus at LeMoyne College was merely a set of architectural plans. And a home court? Whatever gymnasium was available at the time.
Don made the most of it, just as he had scholastically—as captain of the basketball team three seasons, baseball two, and also playing football. Twice first team all-Parochial in basketball and the Outstanding Player as St. Anthony’s won its first title in ’45-46, he also pitched a ’46 no-hitter against Most Holy Rosary.
Up at The Heights, he captained Tom Niland’s basketball team his three varsity seasons. Those teams went 39-28. His 1,341 career points was the school record for more than 20 years, a 20.0 ppg scoring average is second all-time and his 441 free throws took 59 years to eclipse. Savage set a Coliseum scoring mark with 40 against St. Francis (NY) as a junior. In his final season, the Dolphins lost six of their first seven. But they won 13 of the next 14, including a win over Upstate rival Siena, and earned the school’s first postseason berth. In LeMoyne’s opening game of that National Catholic Invitation Tournament, Don scored 33 against St. Michael’s (Vt.). He led the team to a third-place finish.
In the ’51 NBA Draft, the Syracuse Nats selected Savage in the second round (14th overall pick, taken immediately after Syracuse’s Jack Kiley). He played two seasons — 3.2 ppg in 17 games — and also played for the Elmira Colonels (ABL).
Following a two-year stint in the Marines, during which he starred for Parris Island, Don returned to the Nats. But when his knee collided with Danny Biasone’s 24-second clock, Savage’s NBA career was over. A sociology major at LeMoyne, Savage went on to a distinguished off-the-court career in the insurance field, first with Loyalty Group Insurance Company, then U.S. Fidelity and Guaranty Company. For the latter, he spent a few years as assistant manager of the Syracuse office. He went on to manage the company’s Northern New Jersey office and was active both in community and LeMoyne alumni activities.
Savage married the former Jacqueline McGill, herself a LeMoyne grad. They had three children — Don Jr., Joseph and Mary Anne.
The late Don Savage was the first LeMoyne Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. Now, he will forever be known as a Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Famer.