This June, the Queens College Athletics Department recognizes Geoffrey Maloney, a Queens College Knight who made his mark as a two-sport athlete from 1958-62. He recently visited Queens College with his college sweetheart and wife, Cathy. I had the privilege of sitting down with Mr. Maloney to discuss his time at Queens College and his success as a salesman after he graduated.
Mr. Maloney's athletic days began long before Queens College and Jamaica High School. His fascination with competition started in his pre-teen days with a stickball bat (the formal title for a broom handle) and a rubber ball. By his teenage years, Maloney had been recruited by mentor Joe Austin, to play in a sandlot baseball league. Austin, who has a Jamaica playground named in his honor, was an impactful community youth league coach who recognized Maloney's tremendous athletic talents quickly. He persuaded Geoff not only to play ball on the diamond, but later, on the court. It was here that his basketball career began.
Maloney attended Jamaica High School, where he was named All-City in varsity baseball as a starting pitcher. It was basketball, however, that led him to become a Queens College Knight. After graduating from Jamaica High School, then-head coach Dr. Robert Salmons took Geoff under his wing and encouraged him to play on the Knights men’s basketball team because, as he once conveyed to Geoff, "he drove to the hoop like NBA great Elgin Baylor."
While at Queens, Maloney broke all school records, two of which still stand today. He leads the school in career scoring average at 19.8 and season scoring average at 26.0 points per game, which was good for 16th in the nation. He had the good fortune of being a key contributor on the 1960-61 team that still holds the best winning percentage in QC men's basketball history (16-6, .727 winning percentage). A graduate of QC in 1963, his contributions to the Knights men's basketball program were never forgotten.
With all his success on the basketball court, Maloney’s heart was still on the diamond. Though Austin had originally placed Maloney behind the plate, an umpire pointed out that Maloney (age 13) had the makings of a great pitcher. After the position switch, scouts started to take notice. They attended his college games regularly and touted Maloney, observing that he had a “live arm.” Under Dr. Robert Tierney, Maloney recorded a career 2.36 ERA, averaged more than one strikeout per inning, and even hurled a 12-0 no-hitter in 1961 against CUNY Brooklyn College.
He accomplished all these different achievements as a Knight while balancing out his studies. A Jamaica Hills resident during his time at QC, he was a Classical Languages major. He remembers classes he had with professors Conrad Greis and Ursula Schoenheim. He especially remembers Dr. Greis’s encouragement that, if Maloney was not sure of what he wanted to do, he would make “a nice Latin professor.” His success in the classroom further proved that, “at the end of the game, it was the education” that was of great importance.
Though he was drafted right out of college by the Minnesota Twins as a pitcher in 1963, he was looked at as a valuable asset on the court, as the Detroit Pistons had wanted to draft him. Yet, Maloney followed his dream and started his career as a professional ballplayer. While it ended as a result of arm troubles just a few years later, Maloney made the best of his time in pro ball. He made the All-Star team in his two years and enjoyed success during those 2 years of play professional baseball.
Maintaining his competitive attitude, Maloney entered the world of sales and has remained there since. Maloney found a home with 3M Company. Determined to be No. 1, Maloney worked his way up the sales ladder, first becoming a Regional Sales manager with 3M on Long Island, and eventually becoming the Vice President of Sales for Complete Office Info Network (COIN) in Atlanta.
Looking back on his days at Queens, he spoke highly of his professors and coaches, saying they taught him to “strive to be the best you can be.” It is clear he put that into good use in his athletic, academic and sales careers. His hard work paid off, for in 1986, former Queens College Athletics Director, Dr. Richard Wettan retired the kid they called “Mugsy Maloney's” number – 22 – the same number worn by his idol, Elgin Baylor. Maloney was the first recipient of such an honor in school history.
Mr. Maloney and his wife currently reside in Atlanta and are proud parents of four sons, as well as big supporters of Queens College. He is even exploring the possibilities of volunteering his time to help out QC student-athletes evaluate sales as a career.
Article written by Queens College junior, Alex Garrett