Gene Parker, for years a popular coach of many sports at City College, died Sunday afternoon at Johns Hopkins Hospital of lung cancer.
Parker, who was 68, had been admitted to the hospital Oct. 25 with a mild form of pneumonia, according to his son, Van Parker.
Parker retired in July 1986 after 31 years at City College, but continued to coach and teach as a substitute at City until his illness.
In 1955 Parker and another teacher became the first black teachers at City. His students included George Petrides, City's current football coach and athletic director.
"He was willing to give every kid a chance," Petrides recalled yesterday. "He always found something good in everybody."
During his 31 years at City, Parker coached more than 6,000 athletes in frosh/soph and junior varsity football, frosh/soph, junior varsity and varsity basketball, junior varsity and varsity baseball, varsity boys and girls cross country and varsity girls basketball. Before retiring, Parker estimated his career record in all those sports at 755-353.
However, Parker's popularity was not due to his winning records, but to his easy-going yet stern approach to coaching.
"There's no secret formula," he said during a 1986 interview: "Be yourself. Kids respect you more when you don't act like you're king of the hill."
Parker attended Douglass High, where he was a standout in track and basketball. After a stint in the Army and working for Western Maryland Dairy and Maryland Drydock, Parker attended Morgan State.
He did not participate in athletics at Morgan because he drove a cab at night to support his family. Still, he graduated with a 3.4 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
Parker coached many outstanding athletes at City, including some who went on to fame at local colleges such as basketball stars Pat McKinley (Towson State), Brian Matthews (Towson State), Ron Smith (University of Baltimore) and George Pinchback (University of Baltimore).
The viewing will be tomorrow at Nutter Funeral Home, 2501 Gwynns Falls Parkway, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.
A year ago, the Mount St. Joseph soccer team was wrapping up a 6-8-3 season. Not altogether bad for most teams, but downright dismal for a perennial playoff contender.
But last year's youth and inexperience has blossomed into this year's 16-6 team, which will take on No. 2 Calvert Hall (16-1) today at 3 p.m. at Essex Community College in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference soccer championship.
"Last year was very uncharacteristic for us," said Mount St. Joseph coach Mike Dolan. "We were very young and we took our lumps. In the off-season, though, I heard some of the kids saying, 'We're gonna come back strong this season.' They were really anxious to do better this season."
Leading the way for the co-No. 10 Gaels has been versatile center-midfielder Mark Donaway, a player Dolan says has led by example. Heading the attack is forward Steve Matcuk, who has scored 18 goals this season, including three in two playoff games.
The anchor of the defense has been stopper Brian Lawson. Goalie John Smith, an agile freshman, has lost just one game all year.
Dolan says one of the team's strengths is battling for balls in the air, which he hopes will be an asset today against the Cardinals.
"Calvert Hall really doesn't have a weak link," he said, "If we're going to beat them, we'll have to do it in the air."
The early signing period for high school seniors who intend to play basketball at NCAA schools begins tomorrow and runs through Nov. 20.
So far, two area players, both from Towson Catholic, have made oral commitments and plan to sign during the early period, according to their coach, Mike Daniels.
Tony Bishop, a 6-foot-7 forward/center who averaged 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds last season, has committed to South Alabama. He had narrowed his final three to South Alabama, Lamar and Mount St. Mary's.
Sydney Johnson, a 6-3 point guard who transferred from Minnesota, will sign with Boston University.
Both players have scored the minimum 700 required on the Scholastic Aptitude Test for freshman eligibility. Johnson, who carries a 3.6 grade-point average, scored nearly 1,100.
There probably won't be many more signings in the Baltimore area during the early period. The area's three top recruits, Dunbar's Donta Bright and Michael Lloyd and Southern's Kwame Evans, have said they will wait until the late period, which begins in April.