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It was a hot, balmy Saturday night on Penn's Frat Row. The "Techniques" were doin' the do at the TKE House while over at the FIJI's, a bus was depositing 40 of Bucks County's finest high school sweeties for a patented "unforgetable night." Yes, things were hot in Philadelphia around 9 p.m. Saturday, but the hottest of the hot was the scene at Kappa Sig.
It was "Hell Night '72" at Kappa Sig.
Jim Maroney walked down 40th St. away from the football stadium. He had just come back from a victory party down by the Schuykill River. You see, earlier in the afternoon, he had stroked Penn's freshman heavyweight crew to an easy win over Yale.
It was nice to win, but for Maroney it was nothing new. The 6'3", 200-pounder was one of the most sought after oarsmen in the country while he was at St. Joseph's Prep School and had already been tabbed as one of the fourth or fifth best port oars in the country this season from his scores in an Olympic Development Program workout.
Yes, it was nothing new for Maroney--he had won many times before and he would win many times again. But he had more important things to think about. Harvard, Navy and the Adams Cup were rapidly approaching, but more importantly, tonight was "Kappa Sig Hell Night" and James W. Maroney '75 was a Kappa Sig pledge.
He stared at the familiar bronzed countenance of "B. Franklin--Founder" as he jogged through the center of campus. He was late and as he trotted he thought about stepping up his pace to a run. Double sessions the past two weeks in preparation for the Adams Cup showdown, the Yale race that afternoon, and the prospect of rowing two more 2000 meter races Sunday for the Olympic Development Program, all led to his decision to coast down to a brisk walk.
When he reached the house around 9:30 p.m., he was escorted in by two brothers, one of whom he'd never seen before. He was the last pledge to arrive and he was quickly escorted in to the trophy room. In a whisk of a hand he was neatly blindfolded. The stereo music was loud but he could still hear the "Techniques" in the distance.
He was led forward a few yards and then ordered by a husky voice to sprint forward.
The plot called for six brothers to wrap him in a sheet, throw him to the ground and then jump up and down on him. Your basic Penn idea of fun and something the football team never has learned to master.
Maroney felt his hair being tugged from behind. He raced forwards, five feet-ten feet--then he hit the stretched sheet. He was whirled violently and he offered no resistance, but his arm was being wrapped sort of up around his head. The music blared as he felt his legs go out from under him and his body hit the floor lengthwise. Then the crush.
He felt one brother jump on top of him, then another, then it all just became a blur and then sudden pain. He didn't scream but he did kick. When he was unfurled, he lay in pain, his shoulder torn apart. The brothers thought it was just a bruise and hoisted him up. He asked to have his blindfold removed and for a postponement of his initiation. He left the house quickly, pushing aside brothers as he went. It was a quick sprint to University Hospital.
Diagnosis: Separated shoulder, torn ligaments, torn tissue.
Penn Coach Ted Nash recently said, "the Adams Cup brews a strange tea--it has a charisma all its own." Jim Maroney may never sample it.
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