Joseph L. McCarthy, a former social worker who established, sponsored and coached baseball and soccer teams to keep East Baltimore youths away from drugs and crime, died Tuesday of congestive heart and kidney failure at Genesis Loch Raven Center. The longtime Parkville resident was 78.
The son of Joseph McCarthy and Angela McCarthy Gardina, Joseph Leo McCarthy was born in Baltimore and raised in Waverly.
"His father died when he was 14, and he was raised by my father, Vincent Gardina, a city courthouse clerk, and my mother, who was a C&P; Telephone Co. operator," said his half brother, Vincent J. Gardina, the former Baltimore County councilman who is now director of the county's Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability.
Mr. McCarthy was a graduate of Loyola High School and earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1962 from what is now Loyola University Maryland. He earned a master's degree in public administration in 1972 from the University of Baltimore.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. McCarthy was a social worker for the Maryland Department of Social Services. At the time of his retirement in 1991, he was a management analyst for the state Department of General Services.
In the 1960s, Mr. McCarthy, in conjunction with St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church in Highlandtown, began sponsoring baseball, rock band contests and soccer teams.
"He was known for his work in the 1960s with delinquent youth in East Baltimore and for his efforts helping troubled boys get off the streets and away from crime and drugs," said Mr. Gardina, who lives in Perry Hall. "He started the Eastside baseball team that played against such renowned teams as Johnny's and Leone's."
Mr. McCarthy realized that there was great interest in sports in East and Northeast Baltimore and decided to begin sponsoring soccer teams.
"I played for him for about six years for St. Elizabeth's; he wasn't an expert in soccer but liked the game," recalled Mr. Gardina. "He read tons and tons of books on the intricacies of soccer, techniques and coaching. And then he got older players to come and help him out."
Mr. McCarthy established soccer teams for ages 12-14, 14-16, 16-19 and older.
"For more than a decade, Joe was manager, sponsor, counselor and sometimes coach of the St. Elizabeth team," said Mr. Gardina. "He supported these teams with his own money, paying for uniforms, equipment and even trips to tournaments in New York and Canada."
"We always called him 'Mr. Joe,' and he always took care of our club teams. He was the real deal," said Joseph Roberts III, who played soccer for Mr. McCarthy in the 1970s and 1980s.
"He was always mild-mannered and one of a kind. Just terrific. He liked youth sports, and he really put his heart into it," said Mr. Roberts, who lives in White Marsh.
"I had four sons who played for him at different ages, and he was one hell of a nice guy," said Joseph Roberts Jr. of Middle River, the father of Joseph Roberts III.
Tom Wall, who now lives in Frankford, Del., coached the St. Elizabeth soccer team that won the national 16-19 championship in 1973, in a game that was played at the Cotton Bowl in Texas.
"We won the McGuire Cup in Dallas in 1973," said Mr. Wall. "Joe's role was more of being the money guy. He was also a father figure to everybody. He was a very quiet man, but when he got around the kids, he always had a big grin on his face. He'd brighten up, and the kids respected him for what he was trying to do for them."
"For the 1973 game, Joe paid for the whole trip. He was more than generous and was always digging in his wallet whether we went to Dallas, New York or Canada," said Joseph Roberts Jr. "You could not meet a more generous man when it came to those kids. You just couldn't beat him."
"Joe loved kids and wanted to do whatever he could to help them," said Mr. Gardina. "He had a kind heart and gentle soul."
Mr. McCarthy had been an avid reader until his sight began to fail about four years ago.
"He read incessantly two full books a week on history or political science, his two favorite topics," Mr. Gardina said.
Mr. McCarthy was a communicant of St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Northeast Baltimore.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 8420 Belair Road, Fullerton.
In addition to Mr. Gardina, Mr. McCarthy is survived by a niece.