Toby Kimball was a Center for the UConn Huskies from 1962 – 1965. He’s a
member of the UConn Basketball All Century Team, he ranks No. 2 at UConn
in both career rebounds (1,324), and rebound average (17.9/game), and led
the nation as a senior in both total rebounds (483), and rebound average
(21.0/game). Toby is No. 6 in career scoring average (18.4/game), and in
the top 20 in career scoring (1,361 points). This is a short list of
statistics that could go on a basketball resume of Toby Kimball. I had the
pleasure of talking to Toby by telephone from LaJolla, California about
his basketball career, and reflect on his college, and post-collegiate
days both on, and off the court.
Toby started playing basketball as a youngster shooting hoops in the back
yard daily, playing pick up games, and doing what most kids do, enjoying
the game. He played basketball at Fay School in Southborough, MA, a pre
prep school. Then he went on to Belmont Hill School in Belmont, MA, a prep
school for major Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth.
Belmont was known as a hockey school until Toby got there. “While I was
there we had a terrific basketball team for my three years as a varsity
player. We won 55 straight games to set a prep school record back then in
MA.” At that point Toby thought he might be able to go on, and play in
started getting recruited, visited several schools, and narrowed his
choices to the University of CT, and the University of North Carolina. He
wasn’t a city boy, wanted to stay in the New England area, and was very
impressed with Head Coach Hugh Greer at UConn. Toby was given a tour of
the University, was introduced to some of the professors, and liked
everything about the University of CT. “I made the decision to go to the
University of CT, and had three years on the varsity team, and had some
good years. We had some great teams, and you know, you need personnel
around you. You can’t do it yourself.”
One memorable game was during his junior year in the National Collegiate
Athletic Association Tournament they had to play against Duke University.
UConn lost to Duke but the team had made it to the Final Eight, and that
was a highlight. Toby said he had great teammates, and he loved playing.
Toby was a three time All Yankee Conference, and an All New England First
Team selection. I’ve been told that Toby Kimball was one of the best
players to have come from UConn, but Toby was very humble when I spoke to
him, always giving credit to the teams he played on, emphasizing it’s a
team effort not an individual effort.
Toby graduated from UConn, he hadn’t been thinking about playing
professionally. “Coach Fred Shabel brought me in, and said ‘hey, you’re
going to be drafted,’ and I said oh, didn’t even think about it, and I was
drafted by the Boston Celtics, and here I am from the Boston area, kind of
a dream come true.” Toby, having been the nations leading rebounder his
senior year, was heavily recruited by an Italian team with an opportunity
to play in Europe. Toby talked to Red Auerbach (Boston Celtics Coach),
knowing that as a rookie he probably wouldn’t get much playing time with
the Celtics, about going to Europe to get in great shape, and work on his
outside shot. He got the okay, went to Italy, and his team proceeded to
win the Italian Cup Championship, and the World Cup Championship. Toby was
going to stay for a second year but Red Auerbach said either come back now
or don’t come back to the Celtics. Toby came back, and began his pro
career in Boston sitting on the bench most of the year as most rookies do.
“I thought I was going to be, and really felt I could have contributed to
that team but blew out my knee when I was coming down from getting a
rebound, and basically for the remainder of my career I had to try to
After playing for the Celtics, Toby spent four years with the San Diego
Rockets (now the Houston Rockets), played for the Milwaukee Bucks for one
year, was traded to Kansas City, then Philadelphia, and wound up on the
expansion draft in New Orleans. At this time, his knee problem caused him
to be on the disabled list, and he was waived as a disabled player. Toby
decided to retire with a year’s worth of disability salary, and a years
worth of salary for being waived while on the disabled list because a
player must be allowed to rehabilitate before being waived.
began working for Canteen Corporation, a food distribution company, and
started a coffee division in San Diego. Later the company was sold, and
Toby opted to move on. Next was The Jack Winter Company where he sold
women’s clothing in California. Then Toby was given an opportunity to work
with ADIDAS selling clothing until the company moved to New York. He then
worked for Mission Janitorial Abrasive Supplies, and started a rental
division of giant sweeper scrubbers that cleaned underground garages, oil
spills, and aircraft carriers.
Toby really wanted to leave the corporate world, and work for himself. He
bought into Southwest Trophy and Awards about nine years ago; four years
ago he opened a second store. They sell to little leagues, high schools,
colleges, and do a lot of corporate engraving work with accounts on both
the east and west coast. “It’s become a hi-tech computerized business.
It’s given me a chance to combine my sports, and my marketing sales
Toby is still very active in sports. After retiring from basketball he
took up tennis, and became an avid tennis player until he had another knee
surgery, and his doctor told him to give up tennis. Next he took up ocean
wave kayaking. When we spoke he was looking forward to the upcoming
weekend with four to six foot waves expected, and Toby would be out there
with his kayak.
I asked Toby if he still follows UConn basketball, he responded, “You bet,
how can you not follow UConn basketball. I watch the UConn men and women.
There are a lot of UConn Alums out here (CA) and a lot of East Coasters
who route for CT.”
Toby said the game has changed so dramatically from when he played. The
shoes that are worn now are much different from the concrete-like shoes he
wore, and there is more cork in the floors so the guys are able to jump a
lot higher changing the action around
the boards. The guys are also a lot
bigger so there is a lot more outside shooting. “It’s a different game.”
Toby thinks Coach Calhoun has done a marvelous job coming in to a program
that really needed a jump start. “He came in to a program where there was
a program, and a history of success just not to where he’s brought the
level of success.” His work is cut out for him this year, but Toby feels
Coach Calhoun has had his work cut out for him in the past, too.
Toby graduated from UConn with a Bachelors Degree in Business. His four
years at UConn had critical contributions to his life. “Four years, and I
do say four years of college is not only a learning experience, it’s a
growing up experience, and it’s also a time when you can have the greatest
time of your life.”
Toby met his wife, Helen, at the University of Connecticut, and they’ve
been married for 39 years. Helen is a homemaker, housewife, mother, and
grandmother. They have a son Tim who was not a basketball player, rather a
volleyball player in college. Tim works for a television station in Los
Angles, and he and his wife, Barbara, have two children Clayton age 4, and
Lela Rae age 2.