Manfred B. Werner, 67, athlete, teacher, coach

March 17, 1997|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

Manfred B. "Manny" Werner loved to play the game.

A minor-league baseball player for the old Philadelphia Athletics, Mr. Werner tried to pass along his passion for sports to thousands of children and teen-agers as a physical education teacher and coach at Baltimore schools over three decades.

Thursday, on his 67th birthday, Mr. Werner died of leukemia at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"He touched a lot of lives," said a friend, Lon Russ, who coached sports teams with Mr. Werner at Northern High School in Baltimore. "For him, the kids came first. Winning came next."

Born in Baltimore, where his father was the city's public works director, Mr. Werner fell in love with sports. At Forest Park High School, he was named to the all-Maryland baseball and basketball teams. He won an athletic scholarship to Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

When Mr. Werner was offered the chance to play professional baseball in 1950, he left Wake Forest and joined the Athletics, playing on their single-A minor-league team as a shortstop. Mr. Werner joined the Army in 1952 during the Korean War, but he returned to the baseball diamond and the Athletics in 1953.

A back injury ended his baseball career, forcing him to leave the team in 1954.

Mr. Werner decided to make sports his life. He attended the University of Miami, where he received a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in education. He married an Eastern Airlines flight attendant and found work as a gym teacher at a Miami elementary school.

But Mr. Werner longed for his hometown.

"He hated Florida," said his wife of 40 years, the former Peggy Spear.

In 1961, Mr. Werner landed a job at Roland Park Junior High School, where he was a gym teacher until 1965, when he moved to Northern High. He stayed at Northern until he retired in 1992, coaching baseball, basketball and soccer. Along the way, he coached some students who later signed minor-league baseball contracts, and one of his soccer players joined the Baltimore Spirit.

"The way he handled the kids was out of this world," Mr. Russ said.

After he retired, Mr. Werner pursued another sport -- golf -- with a passion while living in Bel Air. His wife said he played the game five days a week, winning a few senior citizen tournaments. "He was obsessed with golf," she said.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at McComas Funeral Home, 1317 Cokesbury Road in Abingdon.

Other survivors include his mother, Lillian Werner of Towson; three daughters, Jacquelyn Werner of Bel Air, Kimberly Bright of Mar Vista, Calif., and Whitney Moore of Abingdon; two brothers, Leonard A. Werner of Lochearn and William D. Werner of White Marsh; a sister, Susan Masterman of Lexington, Ky.; and a granddaughter.

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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