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Old Chester, PA: Biographical Sketches

William "Billy" James Kilby, Jr.

Sketch from the program book by Dougherty
courtesy of

Mike Majeski

William "Billy" James Kilby, Jr.

(A biographical sketch taken from the "Billy Kilby Night" program book, Tinicum AC Prospect Park Municipal Field, Tuesday November 13, 1962; contributed by Mike Majeski)

Sports Editor

It is extremely doubtful if any Delaware County athlete ever accomplished so much, in so many different sports, over so long a period of time as Billy Kilby, the man we honor here tonight.

Only 5 feet, 6 inches tall and never heavier than 150 pounds, Kilby has been the talk of the county for more than 15 years. At one time or another, he has been rated as the No.1 performer in the area in no fewer than five sports - football, baseball, basketball, softball and roller skating.

He has become a legend in his own time, a constant source of inspiration to youngsters who thought they might not be big enough to play sports, a never-ending source of amazement to fans who have marvelled at his exploits down through the years.

On the football field, he has knocked heads with opposing linemen out-weighing him by a 100 pounds and he has never been injured. He is without equal as a pass receiver, as an elusive runner and as a brilliant passer.

On the basketball court, he has outscored opponents a foot taller. In the old Suburban Major Basketball Association, a league of giants, it was little Billy Kilby who walked off with the Most Valuable Player Award in 1953. Later, he set the league scoring record with 56 points in a single game.

No one who has ever seen Kilby play softball will forget his clutch hitting, his daring base running, his spectacular fielding at anyone of a half-dozen positions or the indescribable "lift" he gives his team simply by being in the lineup.

Kilby has been called the most natural athlete ever developed in this area.

He first displayed this great natural talent back in 1943.

On the previous Christmas, Kilby received a pair of roller skates from his parents. Up until then, he had never skated.

Yet, a scant six months later, Kilby and his partner, Betty Sweeney, placed second in the nation in Junior Dance competition.

Having mastered the sport in so short a time, Kilby promptly gave it up. He didn't skate again until 12 years later when he and his wife, the former Theresa Lynch, formed a team and placed third in the nation in Novice Dance competition.

William James Kilby, Jr., entered the world in Marcus Hook on Jan. 31, 1929.

For more than a dozen years, his athletic activity was limited to the field and gym at Marcus Hook School where he played constantly.

Encouraged by the school coach, Sol Saltzman, and Bill's uncle, Nick Sciocchetti, Kilby entered inter-mural sports at the Hook school and there begins one of the greatest sports stories ever written in Delaware County.

From Marcus Hook, Kilby went to Eddystone High School where he made the varsity baseball and basketball teams in his sophomore year. He was a regular in both sports as a Junior and senior.

Oddly enough, he didn't go out for football until half-way through his senior season.

He was an immediate sensation. In his first game, after only three days of practice, he caught two touchdown passes to help defeat Darby, 19-13. A couple of weeks later, he scored on a 50-yard pass play in the last minute to knock off previously unbeaten Ridley Park, 7-0.

It was on the sandlots, however, that Kilby gained his greatest reputation.

In the old Suburban Major Football Conference, later in independent action against former college and professional standouts and currently with Tinicum AC, Kilby has more than held his own with the very best.

He starred for Marcus Hook AA for 13 years and won more games with sensational catches, spectacular runs and long passes than can be recorded here, He even won one game, 7-6, by place-kicking an extra point.

As a teenager, he was one of the finest Junior American Legion baseball players in the state and played in the statewide all-star game at Shibe Park.

Meanwhile, his reputation as a basketball player was growing and more than one team all but walked off the floor in disgust as this little terror dribbled the opposition crazy while conducting a one-man freeze.

In 1947, Kilby began playing softball. There is no doubt that he is the greatest softball player ever developed in the county.

His services have been sought far and wide for the past decade. He has played in two world tournaments and has been on more state and district championship teams than any player in Pennsylvania.

Regardless of the sport, Kilby was – and he is today – at his very best when the going was the roughest.

When his opponent was twice as big, when the opposing team was the heavy favorite, then Kilby rose to unprecedented heights, even for him.

He loves the thrill of rugged competition as dearly as he loves the sweet rewards of victory.

Watch this man closely as he plays tonight. You may never see his equal again.


Here’s What They Say About Billy Kilby

BOB FINUCANE…Former Sports Editor, Daily Times: 
"Billy Kilby is one of those athletes whose feats, when described 20 years from now by one who saw him in action, will draw a 'You must he some kind of nut!' expression from the listener." 

PHIL MARION...Head Coach, Ridley Township High School: 
"I’ve always felt that Billy Kilby is as fine a natural athlete as I've ever seen in Delaware County. He has played with and against college graduates and many times overshadowed them. There aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe him. There's no doubt in my mind that he could have played major college football and could have been a standout.

ED GEBHART...Sports Editor, Daily Times: 
"Billy Kilby makes it tough on sports writers. You run out of words trying to describe his exploits. He makes up for it, though, for there's never a dull game when 'The Ace' is playing. 

SAM SINGLEY...Head Coach, Tinicum AC: 
"I've played against Billy Kilby and with him. It takes an e perience like that to really appreciate just how great he is." 

TONY APICHELLA ...Head Coach, Chichester High and Marcus Hook AA: 
"I've always admired Billy for his great courage. Pound-for-pound, he's the greatest athlete I've ever had anything to do with. He's always been Johnny-on-the-spot for us and always was able to come up with the Big play," 

MATT ZABITKA...Former Sports Writer, Daily Times: 
"By nature, Billy Kilby is a man in a hurry -a hurry to do the very best in the shortest amount of time. If I had to pick one word to describe him, it would have to he 'indestructable.' How else can you describe a person of his size who has taken part in the fiercest of competition and still kept going." 

JOE SALTZMAN...Mayor of Marcus Hook: 
"Billy Kilby is the best all-around athlete I ever saw in Delaware County in my time. Not only that, but he is a tremendous credit to his home town."

Mike Majeski adds, 

"I was one of Billy's roller skater students from 1962 until 1971.

Not only was he a great athlete, he was an excellent teacher/coach and a good person.

I once read that everyone has known 7 people (outside of immediate family) that significantly influence our lives. Billy Kilby was definitely one of the people that changed my life in a positive way.

On the last page of the scanned handout is a picture of Billy catching a pass. The words on the page did not project, but read as follows: Through The Years... Whenever There's Been A Touchdown To Be Scored... A Last Minute Basket To Be Made... A Winning Run To Be Batted In... A Little Guy Named Billy Kilby Has Been There To Do The Job."




If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about individuals in Chester, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

© 2003 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/17/05