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Calvert Hall's Binder steps down as coach


Calvert Hall's Joe "Snooky" Binder, who has won more private school baseball titles than any metro coach in history, has retired after this, his 22nd season, the 62-year-old coach said Sunday night.

"I've given it a lot of thought, and it's time," said Binder, who ends his career with 462 career wins and 152 losses. Binder ranks fourth among active coaches behind Terry Terrill (616-130 in 26 years) of Riverdale Baptist, Curley's Al Frank (521-389, 39 years) and Arundel's Bernie Walter (482-131, 28 years).

A grandfather of two with one on the way, Binder said he made his decision after a long discussion with his wife of 31 years, Mary Kathryn.

Binder's Cardinals suffered through only their second losing season at 13-16, being eliminated in two straight games during the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference tournament. Binder's Cardinals suffered their only other losing season at 7-10 in 1982, one of only two years his squads did not reach the playoffs.

"I don't think I did as good a job as I have in years past, but it's been a good run," said Binder, a 1957 graduate of Calvert Hall. "Like my wife said, this is as good a year as any to get out."

Binder, who has won 11 baseball championships in 17 appearances, was named All-Metro Coach of the Year in The Sun in 1985, 1988 and 1994, and has coached three All-Metro Players of the Year in Chris Holcomb (1989), Ken Konopacki (1991) and Andy Bair (1994-95).

Holcomb (Stanford) and Bair were both left-handers, with Bair going undefeated for his career at 31-0. Bair eschewed a full scholarship to the University of Miami to sign out of high school with the Florida Marlins.

Several others, such as All-Metros Brian Matz (Clemson), Josh Itzoe (Wake Forest), Larry Marino (Wake Forest), John McKay (UNC-Charlotte), Shane Rhoades (West Virginia) and Kevin Olkowski (West Virginia) all earned Division I baseball scholarships.

"I've really been proud of the fact that so many of our kids went on to play in college from Calvert Hall," said Binder. "I'm equally proud of them, wherever they've gone. We really worked hard on that."

His parents were German immigrants who did not speak English, and Binder's pet name, "Snookums," was given by his mother because of his childhood sweetness. The nickname, which later evolved to "Snooky," often was in sharp contrast to the fiery temper he sometimes displayed as a coach and as a former All-Maryland Scholastic Association third baseman at Calvert Hall.

"Being involved in education, we both saw the positive results of education," said Mary Kathryn Binder. "Discipline is something he really came to value above all."

Binder holds the record for most single-season victories among area schools, going 29-2 in 1995 and 29-5 in 1997. The Cardinals went 77-9 with three straight titles from 1993 to 1995. Mount St. Joseph's All-Metro Player of the Year Gavin Floyd is 30-5 for his career, with four of those losses coming against Binder's Cardinals.

"I really think that to get kids to work hard, give of themselves and understand the commitment is not easy in any situation," Binder said. "But my philosophy is that, once they bought into it, you can take them to the moon."

Binder, who will enter his 35th year teaching at Calvert Hall, will continue to teach physical education. Calvert Hall will begin a search for a replacement soon.

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