Jack Curran, legendary head coach of the men’s varsity baseball and basketball teams at Archbishop Molloy, and winner of the prestigious CHSAA Coach of the Year award 25 times for baseball and 22 times for basketball, died peacefully in his sleep early this morning. He was 82.
“It’s a very sad day for all of us here at Molloy,” said Richard Karsten, President of Molloy. “Coach Curran built a legacy that transcends any traditional notion of coaching high school athletics. To him it was always about the kids. They were the reason for his success. His passing will not only be felt by today’s students, faculty and staff, but generations going back over 50 years.”
Raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, New York, Coach Curran graduated from All Hallows High School in 1948 and went on to St. John's University where he pitched and was captain of the baseball team in his senior year. From there he went on to play professional baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies organizations for three years until a back injury ended his career. In 1958, while working as a salesman of building materials, Curran learned of an opening at Archbishop Molloy High School when Coach Lou Carnesecca accepted a job as head basketball coach of St. John's University. Encouraged to apply for the position, Curran was hired to become the head basketball and baseball coach. What followed is a 55 year legacy that produced the winningest coach in New York State history.
During his distinguished years at the helm, Coach Curran achieved a Varsity basketball record of 972-437 and a Varsity baseball record of 1,708-523. His overall win total of 2,680 wins against 960 losses, a 74% winning percentage, is a mark that may never be surpassed.
Curran’s reputation and excellence made him renowned throughout sports circles, which led to some lucrative offers coaching at the college level. But he would never leave Molloy. In 1969, former Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy resigned as head basketball coach of Boston College and Curran was targeted as their first choice to replace him. After interviewing for the position, Curran decided that he would rather stay at Molloy. Several years later, the University of Texas asked him to interview for a coaching position. Once again, he turned the offer down loudly proclaiming in his inimitable style, “I’m not going to Texas!” What followed was an even more impressive record as he led the 1970 baseball team to an undefeated 36-0 season and the City Championship. In all, Curran’s baseball teams went on to win 17 baseball CHSAA City Championships and 5 Basketball CHSAA City Championships. In 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1987 Curran led Molloy to the CHSAA City title in both basketball and baseball, a feat that no other coach had ever accomplished.
In addition, Curran’s basketball teams won 21 Queens Divisional Championships, 14 Brooklyn-Queens Championships and a multitude of invitational and classic tournament titles. Curran’s baseball teams earned 28 trips to the CHSAA championship game and won 24 Queens Divisional titles and fall crowns. At one time he achieved a then national record of 68 consecutive league victories. Curran has also been named Coach of the Year in two different sports- baseball in 1988 and basketball in 1990.
“He’s won everything except World War III,” said Carnesecca in a 2008 article in The New York Times. “No one in the country has Jack’s record in both sports, no one. And along the way, he has become more than just a great coach, he has become one of the greatest treasures of New York City.”
Under his tutelage, Curran produced star NBA players including Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters, Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Sundiata Gaines, MLB players including Mike Baxter and Ed Kurpiel, and standout college athletes such as Harvard's Ralph James and Louisville's Russ Smith. He has been inducted into a variety of distinguished Halls of Fame, including the National High School, St. John's University, NY State Basketball, CHSAA, Westchester County Sports, All Hallows, Basketball Old-Timers of America, and NY City Basketball.
"Coach taught us all how we should act on and off the court or field," said Mike McCleary, Molloy's Athletic Director. "Not being around such a great man is going to be difficult for all of us. Coach will be sorely missed."
“Despite all the attention and accolades he received, he always remained humble,” continued Karsten. “He once said that the true measure of a coach is the quality of the people he has turned out long after they have left him. In that regard he measured up remarkably well. May he rest in God's peace.”
In his announcement to students today, Marist Brother Thomas Schady, the school's Principal, shared inspiring words in remembering Curran. "Coach Curran has been a loyal, prominent member of the Molloy family. And though he will be missed, Coach Curran's legacy and his spirit will continue to nurture the Molloy community and to be a living part of us forever."
Archbishop Molloy High School will share information regarding services for Coach Curran as soon as it becomes available. Please continue to keep Coach in your thoughts and prayers.