Liggio, a native of North Bergen, was a standout football and track athlete at St. Joseph of the Palisades High School in West New York during the late 1950s. In football, Liggio was a two-time All-Hudson County and All-Metropolitan New York/New Jersey running back, helping the Blue Jays to an undefeated state championship season in 1957 (his junior year) in a backfield that also featured a fullback named Frank Gargiulo (who is a current member of the North Bergen Board of Commissioners).
"We got a lot of publicity that year because we were an all left-handed backfield," Liggio said. "We had a great year, going undefeated and untied."
In 1958, after Gargiulo had graduated and headed to the University of Notre Dame, Liggio was left to handle most of the ball carrying responsibility for the Blue Jays.
"We weren't as successful my senior year," Liggio said. "When I was a senior, I was asked to do a lot more, play halfback, quarterback. I had to run, throw. I did everything."
While Liggio gained more fame as a football player, he also had a distinguished high school career in track and field, throwing the discus and the shot put. In fact, Liggio won the Hudson County championship in the discus in 1958 and was third in the shot put.
"I was a track man," Liggio said. "A lot of people tend to forget that."
After his high school days were done, Liggio looked for a place to go to college. He didn't have to think long and hard.
"Frank (Gargiulo) came back home and got me and took me to Notre Dame," Liggio said. "That was it for me. When you're a kid and then Notre Dame comes along, there really wasn't another choice. I dropped everything else. I had a number of other offers, like Ivy League schools, but once I knew Notre Dame was interested in me, I wasn't interested in anything else."
Liggio joined his high school teammate Gargiulo in South Bend and played varsity football with the Fighting Irish from 1959 through 1962. It wasn't an era of championship glory under the Golden Dome back then.
"I had to be there unfortunately during the worst time in Notre Dame history," Liggio bemoaned. "I played halfback for a little while and then I moved to cornerback. I got a lot of good playing time with players like Nick Buonoconti (who later played for the Miami Dolphins) and Daryle Lamonica (who played for the Oakland Raiders). I missed most of my senior year with injuries. But I definitely have a lot of great memories of my days in high school and college."
Last Thursday, Liggio capped his fine athletic career by earning his place among the all-time sports greats in Hudson County history, as he was among 16 legends to be inducted into the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame, at the 15th Annual induction ceremonies at the Casino in the Park in Jersey City.
"I'm glad to finally get recognized," Liggio said. "Getting an award like this does cause me to reflect and it brings back memories, but now, those memories are faint. In a way, it brings back one memory that doesn't even involve me and it was before I went to Notre Dame. I remember playing in a game, then running home to watch the end of the Notre Dame-Oklahoma game on television, the game where Notre Dame ended Oklahoma's win streak (in 1958). I remember that day like I remember where I was when (President John F.) Kennedy was killed. It's a nice honor for me. I'm happy about it. I had a pretty good career. It's every kid's dream to go to Notre Dame."
And it could be every kid's legacy to end their career with a Hall of Fame induction, like the one Tom Liggio enjoyed last week.
Others to get inducted included former Jersey City State and Montclair State basketball coach Ollie Gelston, a Jersey City native, world record holding track star Larry Ross of Jersey City, national gymnastic legend Frank Cumiskey of West New York, Secaucus High School track coach and athletic director Stan Fryczynski, Kearny track coach and former athletic director Jim Cifelli, Harrison girls' basketball coach and athletic director Jack Rodgers, Marist girls' basketball coach Bill DeFazio, County Prep baseball coach Mike Zadroga and Bayonne High School swim coach Thomas Wojslawowicz.
Also gaining induction were former Queen of Peace, Harrison and Kearny football coach Ralph Borgess, former Weehawken and University of Pennsylvania football and baseball standout Pete Wisniewski, former Hoboken grid standout Bobby Lisa and former Union Hill and Assumption College basketball star Eric Inauen, who is currently a deputy fire chief for the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue.
Jerry Meyers, who has been the president of the Lincoln Park Little League in Jersey City for the last 30 years, is the 2005 recipient of the Marty Seglio Community Service Award, given in memory of the late St. Joseph of the Palisades athletic director who constantly gave of his time to help athletes.