Memories, magic mark Walter's path to 400th Baseball: Arundel's Bernie Walter can become only the third Maryland coach to reach 400 coaching wins when his Wildcats play No. 3 Chesapeake tomorrow.

April 20, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Bernard P. Walter Jr. was born to coach baseball.

In his 24th season as coach at Arundel High in Gambrills, Walter (399-113) is one win from becoming the third coach in Maryland history to reach 400 career wins.

Last year, Walter passed Poly's Bob Lumsden for most public school victories. Lumsden was 383-62 in 24 years at Poly and his .861 winning percentage is the highest in state history.

The two coaches ahead of Walter, Terry Terrill of Riverdale Baptist and Al Frank of Archbishop Curley have been private school coaches their entire careers and have no limit on the number of games they can play.

Walter gets a chance at No. 400 tomorrow at 3: 45 p.m. when his sixth-ranked Wildcats (10-2) visit No. 3 Chesapeake (9-2) in Lake Shore.

His knack for teaching and getting results have made him an icon in high school baseball.

An accomplished classroom teacher in health and physical education, Walter has received as many teaching awards as coaching honors. He was a finalist last year for National Teacher/Coach of the Year sponsored by Walt Disney Productions.

Walter has been teaching health and physical education at Arundel since 1972, and has been department chairman since 1977 and athletic director since 1981.

A 16-year-old graduate of Brooklyn Park high school, Walter played shortstop at the University of Maryland and made the Atlantic Coast Conference Honor Roll all three years he played. He graduated Phi Alpha Epsilon (PE Honorary) in 1963.

Severna Park's Jim Pitt (348-206) was a freshman outfielder at Maryland when Walter was a senior and says, "Bernie is so intelligent, I believe he could have been a neurosurgeon if he had wanted to."

Coaching the Terps' freshman team to a 10-1 record in 1964, Walter became varsity assistant in '65 before landing his first teaching job at Curley in 1966. He coached the Friars junior varsity from 1966 to 1971, going 80-13 with three Maryland Scholastic Association titles.

Arundel's program was down when he took over in 1974 (7-11, one of only two losing seasons) and he started his incredible run with a 12-7 campaign in 1975. He was named Sun Coach of the Year in '75, the first of three times in three decades -- the others in 1981 and 1993.

By '76, Walter had his first state title and has gone on to set Maryland public school records for state championships (seven), reaching the final (10 times), region titles (11) and consecutive region titles (six, 1991-96).

Scores of college and pro players have played for Arundel, including Atlanta Braves' pitcher Denny Neagle (1986 grad) who is the first Wildcat to make it to the bigs.

Walter holds the distinction of being the only Maryland coach to win a world title in addition to national championships in high school and summer baseball.

Arundel (21-1) was a mythical national high school champion per Collegiate Baseball in 1993.

His 1990 Mayo Post 226 was only the third Maryland team to win the American Legion nationals in the 65-year old tournament, the first since Cumberland in 1934.

Very active in the American Baseball Coaches Association and the United States Baseball Federation, Walter has traveled the country conducting one-man clinics at high schools and colleges.

In 1988 he coached the USBF Junior National 17-18 team to a world championship in Sydney, Australia. He became the first USA coach to defeat Cuba for a gold medal. It came in the winter of the year in which he suffered a heart attack and was sidelined for the rest of the high school season after a 3-4 start (team was 9-11).

Following the gold-medal game, Walter sat alone atop the stadium in Sydney and relived the game in his mind while everyone else was out celebrating.

"Cuba has the premier amateur program in the world, and we had just become the first to ever beat them head-to-head for a world championship," said Walter. "I just said to myself, ' This is as good as gets.' "

Two years later, Walter guided the USBF Juniors to a bronze medal in Havanna, Cuba, and only some strange umpiring prevented his team from embarrassing the Cubans in their backyard.

The world title in '88 and his first state high school championship in '76 rank as two of his three most satisfying achievements, the other the 1966-67 Leone's Boys Club 19 and under team.

Walter coached Leones, later Johnny's, from 1966 to 1979 and amassed a record of 1,029-148 and six All-American Amateur Baseball Association National Championships in Johnstown, Pa., but his first two years are the most memorable.

"That group was together two years and won my first national title in '67, it was pretty special, " said Walter.

While at Maryland, Walter had played for Leones and Walter Youse, who became his mentor. The likes of Reggie Jackson and Al Kaline, Hall of Famers, also played for Youse.

"Bernie always had a lot of enthusiasm and is a hard worker, nothing he has done has surprised me," said Youse, 83, who has spent a lifetime running a summer team (still does) and scouting for the Orioles, California Angels and Milwaukee Brewers.

"He was a very intelligent ball player who has become one of the top coaches in the country."

State baseball coaches 300 club

Coach, Schools (Years), Record, Pct.

Terry Terrill, Riverdale Baptist (1976-97), 454-108, .808

Al Frank, Archbishop Curley (1963-97), 436-344, .559

Bernie Walter, Arundel (1974-97), 399-113, .779

Bob Lumsden, Poly (1944-67), 383-62, .861

Joe Binder, Calvert Hall (1972-74, 1983-1997), 355-105, .772

Harry Lentz, Northeast (1966-95), 349-200,.636

Jim Pitt, S.Park (1974-97), Annapolis (1970-73), 348-206, .628

Larry Butts, P.Hall (1985-97), Parkville (1970-84), 343-121, .739

Lou Jenkins, Surrattsville (1968-93), 329-126, .723

Bumps Vaughn, Bowie (1965-84), 313-49, .847

Donny Keys, Oxon Hill (1971-94), 302-170, .640

Note: Lumsden is retired; Lentz is deceased; Jenkins coaches at St. Mary's College and Vaughn at Prince Georges C.C. All the other coaches on the above list are still active high school coaches.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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