Bob MacGillivray, EHS ’54: Basketball Star for Life
Updated: Jun 20
Bob MacGillivray, EHS ’54 grew up in Dorchester. He could have gone to close-by Dorchester High, but the 6’ 4” basketball phenom chose to bring his athletic skills to English High. “Coach Sullivan (Arthur) welcomed me and said he was glad to have me. He was like a father to me.”
MacGillivray went on to have a dazzling basketball career as the center at English. In the 1954 EHS yearbook the authors wrote: “Doubtless, the brilliant playing of Bob MacGillivray will not be forgotten. He is considered to be the greatest basketball player that English has ever had or perhaps will have for years to come.” (Some later generations of EHS basketball players may have other views.)
But MacGillivray played varsity ball for three years and helped led English through two Tech Tourneys as it was called back then.
He set all new school records for scoring. He averaged 27 points per game. At 6’ 4” then he was a “big man” and only challenged by a 6’ 9” player from Latin.
One heart breaking moment for Bob was the 1953 Tech Tourney title game against Mission High, a Catholic School. Bob has a chance to win the title for English with a last second shot. The ball rolled around the trim twice but failed to drop in. Devasted he was approached by a priest from Mission who tried to console him---and who also told him he prayed that he would miss the shot!
Bob also vividly remembers an English game against hometown Dorchester High School. “I scored 50 points in that game. I really stuck it to them,” he says playfully. A first-time game against Brookline High also stands out. Playing at the old Montgomery St. building Bob recalls. “We only had wooden backboards at English, playing at Brookline was the first time I ever saw a glass backboard!”
He also remembers English where all people and races got along. “We didn’t care, we just wanted to play ball.”
Bob eventually won a four-year scholarship to North Carolina State where he played forward for the varsity team for three years. In 1957 and 1958 he was the top field-goal shooter at the school. In 1959 he helped lead the “Wolfpack” to the ACC conference title. His team was ranked 6th in the nation that year.
After college Bob held a number of state government positions including the state superior court and state vocational programs for the handicapped. He also spent 21 years helping young, (18–21year-olds) first time offenders develop their work skills to build a better lives, a position he retired from. He has stayed in North Carolina, but he hasn’t stayed still.
Basketball was never far from his mind. After retirement he joined a state supported Parks and Recreations basketball league for players 60-99 years old. Bob helped his team win 12 state titles! Not a surprise for a man who believes “the competitive spirt in men never leaves.”