Joseph “Pete” Eugene Hamilton Sr. (Baltimore Sun / November 18, 2011)

Joseph Eugene Hamilton Sr., who coached baseball teams at the Community College of Baltimore and Essex Community College, died Nov. 17 of pancreatic cancer at Harbor Hospital.

The lifelong Locust Point resident was 77.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Hamilton, who was known as "Pete," was raised on Fort Avenue in Locust Point. After graduating from Southern High School in 1954, he went to work as a building superintendent at Whitman Requardt Associates.

During his 46-year career with the Baltimore engineering company, Mr. Hamilton, who retired in 2000, missed only four days of work, family members said.

"We played ball as boys and we've been friends for 65 years. Pete and I were in the same elementary school class," said George Henderson, who was the baseball coach at what are now Baltimore City Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex.

During the 1940s, Mr. Hamilton founded the Fort Avenue Bees, a softball team, while Mr. Henderson put together a rival team, the Jackson Street Gaels.

"Fast-pitch was everything in those days," said Mr. Henderson. "We later merged our teams and called it the American Bar. We won state championships in 1946, 1947 and 1948."

Mr. Hamilton founded the South Baltimore Little League in the 1950s and was its president for nine years. He also had been league vice president, treasurer, equipment manager, umpire and coach.

In 1980, he was inducted into the South Baltimore Softball Hall of Fame.

Mr. Hamilton decided to try his hand at coaching on the collegiate level and got his chance in 1979 when Mr. Henderson hired him as his assistant at the Community College of Baltimore.

"When I went to Community College of Baltimore, I needed a coach, and I asked Pete. He stayed with me until we both retired in 2006," said Mr. Henderson.

After helping the team secure a berth at the 1980 and 1982 National Junior College World Series, the two men left CCB in 1984 and began coaching at Essex.

In 1992, Essex won the National Junior College World Series that was played in Grand Junction, Colo., and Mr. Hamilton was voted NJCAA 1992 National Baseball Coach of the Year.

"Pete had great loyalty. He was my first base coach and handled all the stats, records and paperwork," said Mr. Henderson.

The two men would hold team practices late in the evening.

"We'd hold them from 10 p.m. sometimes to 2 a.m., because we had the gym to ourselves from January to March. Pete would then go home, sleep for a couple of hours, and get up and go to work at 5," said Mr. Henderson.

"Pete Hamilton is a Brooks Robinson type of guy. He didn't drink, smoke or curse. I told my boys, 'If you want to emulate someone, make it Pete,'" he said. "There aren't a significant number of adjectives to describe him."

"Pete coached me at CCB. He was just a great guy that you could always count on," said Dave Johnson, who pitched for the Orioles from 1989 to 1991 and is now a broadcaster with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

"He kept everything running and always had a smile. Pete was a steady influence and a calming force, the kind of guy you could always lean on," said Mr. Johnson.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Hamilton managed High Noon, a regional rock 'n' roll band.

After his collegiate career ended, Mr. Hamilton remained in baseball as a local scout for the Kansas City Royals.

He was a member of the Oldtimers Baseball Association of Maryland and was elected to its Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2009, he was inducted into the Baltimore Boys of Summer Hall of Fame.

For the past two years, Mr. Hamilton, who helped establish the South Baltimore Optimist Club and the Rod & Reel Hunting Club, had lived at the Christ Church Apartments in Federal Hill.

Services were held Monday.

Surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Emma Katherine "Cass" White; four sons, Joseph E. Hamilton Jr. of Brooklyn Park, Charles Hamilton of Baldwin, Mark Hamilton of Fallston and Timothy Hamilton of Baltimore; a daughter, Jeanette Burns Hamilton of Perry Hall; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com