For Lou Eckerl, his days serving as Calvert Hall’s athletic director and baseball coach have never felt like work.
For 40 years, the 1970 Cardinal Gibbons graduate has efficiently overseen the athletic program. This spring, meanwhile, will bring his 21st season in charge of the baseball team.
On Thursday, Calvert Hall announced that Eckerl is retiring from both posts at the end of the school year. He’s excited about the Cardinals’ baseball season and equally excited about what will follow, with plans to devote more time to his family.
“One of the things I want to thank my wife [Carol] for is letting me come to school and have fun and enjoy everybody I’m around every day. That’s the feeling I have, like I’m going to a game — even though it’s work,” he said.
Eckerl, who turns 70 in April, has enjoyed a hugely successful run in both positions. When he took over as athletic director in 1982, the program participated in 10 sports with 21 teams. Now it competes in 17 sports with 40 teams and has produced more than 300 conference championships in various leagues and levels.
In his 20 years as the Cardinals’ baseball coach, in addition to three years at Cardinal Gibbons, Eckerl has a 503-157 career mark. The three-time All-Metro Coach of the Year has guided Calvert Hall to eight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles and is six wins shy of surpassing his predecessor Joe Binder’s career mark of 460 wins.
His close colleagues are all quick to say his contributions to the Towson school go far beyond the impressive numbers.
“You can certainly point to the wins and championships Calvert Hall has won during Lou’s time. However, the greater and more important barometer is the care he has had for his players and all our student-athletes during his tenure,” Calvert Hall president Brother John Kane said. “The mark of a Lasallian educator is touching the hearts of your students. Throughout his entire career, Lou put our students first. We are indebted to him and will miss his presence greatly.”
Eckerl is thankful to all the people he has worked with over the years, singling out former coaching legends Bill Karpovich, Joe Binder, Reds Hucht, Mark Amatucci and Augie Miceli for helping shape his career. Mostly, it’s the students he works with that leave the biggest impression. For them, interacting with Eckerl is an opportunity to better themselves and prepare for what lies ahead.
“I love working with these students and it’s so gratifying seeing how they develop from young men into adults and the success they go on to have,” Eckerl said. “Knowing that I’ve had an impact on them in multiple ways is rewarding.”
Most of Eckerl’s fondest memories have come on the baseball field, as the Cardinals enjoyed winning seasons every year under his watch. One of his most recent highlights came last year, when the Cardinals gutted out a 3-2 victory over A Conference rival Archbishop Curley in 13 innings on May 4 for his 500th career win.
Assistant coach Brooks Kerr has been right by Eckerl’s side throughout his Calvert Hall tenure.
“One of the things he brings to baseball is respect of the game, playing it the right way. He cares for the guys and has done a lot of things behind the scenes to help them,” Kerr said. “He’s always done the things needed to do to be successful and that’s determined by a number of things – it’s not only about wins and losses but one of the things we pride ourselves on is the development of the players. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of our players will go on to play college ball and that’s one of the things we pride ourselves on as well.”
Amatucci, the school’s legendary basketball coach, played against Eckerl in several sports during their high school days. They ended up at Juniata College together and became longtime colleagues and great friends at Calvert Hall.
“They don’t know what they’ll be missing,” Amatucci said. “Besides baseball, he’s just been an unbelievable athletic director. He’s a jack of all trades and he excels in everything in terms of taking care of that school. He’s always been available, been there early and stayed late and just has a great relationship with everybody in the building.
“When Lou talks, people listens and when he talks it means something. And the best thing about it is the kids love him. He’s just been an unbelievable asset to the program.”
Eckerl has considered retirement the past couple years and knows the time is right. The program is in a good place — the fall season produced six conference titles — and he’s ready to enjoy quality time with his family.
He and his wife have two children — daughter, Jessica, and son, Matthew — and four grandchildren, with another on the way in June.
“It feels like the perfect storm,” he said. “Things are going really well here at Calvert Hall, so I’m not leaving the athletic department in shambles. God is blessing me and I’m happy about it and excited to do this next chapter of my life with my family and grandkids and have some fun.”