Late Arnold baseball coach was tough, fair
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When Arnold High School took the baseball field, the opponent likely was a larger school, such as New Kensington, Har-Brack or Penn Hills.
But Lions coach Jim Marino's secret to success was a simple philosophy: preparation and discipline.
Those two words best described how Arnold was able to defeat schools in an era where there were no enrollment classifications.
His philosophy was carried out as the Lions rolled to the WPIAL championship in 1965 and later as Springdale's American Legion baseball manager.
Marino died in 2010, but his efforts will be remembered posthumously May 17 when he will be inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame.
Marino will be joined by seven other inductees in the group's 45th annual banquet.
“He was very tough but very fair,” said his son, Robert, who will accept the induction on behalf of his family and former players.
Robert got to see him as a father and a manager, as he was part of Springdale's 1968 American Legion section winner.
“His strong suit was communication skills, and he spoke his mind,” Robert Marino said.
“He prepared us and kept everybody under control,” said John Mazur, Arnold's 1965 catcher. “In baseball, you can't get too pumped up. You've got to keep an even keel.”
After his coaching days were through, Marino remained an educator in the New Kensington-Arnold School District until retiring in 1982.
The stories of his generosity are abundant.
“When I was working at Allegheny Ludlum, I walked into an office with my last name on my hard hat,” Robert Marino recalled. “A lady asked my father's name, I told her and she jumped up and hugged me. Turns out, she said, my dad saved her family by loaning them $50 a week and her family had trouble stretching their paychecks. My dad came across as a hard-core guy, but he was pretty sentimental and easy going.”
Marino's baseball teams were built on solid pitching and fielding.
“Our '64 team at Arnold gave up four earned runs the whole season,” Mazur said. “In '65, we gave up nine.”
“Some might have thought the 1964 team was better than the '65 team that won the WPIAL,” Robert Marino said.
There were no PIAA playoffs in 1965, so Arnold winning WPIAL honors over highly rated Beaver Falls, 11-1, at Forbes Field proved to be the paramount accomplishment.
Marino's Springdale team made the state Legion finals in 1969.
Marino was honored with a surprise party in 2005 at the Lower Burrell American Legion hall. He was presented with the 1965 WPIAL baseball trophy that had been cast aside by Valley High School officials in a storage room.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
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