By Joseph Staszewski
Legendary Archbishop Molloy coach Jack Curran died early Thursday morning at his home in Rye, N.Y., Athletic director Mike McCleary said. He was 82.
The cause of death was not yet known, according to McCleary. The school released a statement on its website saying Curran passed away in his sleep.
“It’s a very sad day for all of us here at Molloy,” said school president Richard Karsten. “Coach Curran built a legacy that transcends any traditional notion of coaching high school athletics. To him it was always about the kids. They were the reason for his success. His passing will not only be felt by today’s students, faculty and staff, but generations going back over 50 years.”
Curran, who won more games combined in baseball and basketball than any other high school coach in the country, was in his 55th season at the school. He missed the final three weeks of the boys’ basketball season after breaking his knee cap when he fell outside his home and McCleary filled in. Curran was in rehab and was hoping to be back to see the Stanners in the CHSAA playoffs. He was also undergoing dialysis and had been treated for lung cancer over the summer.
Despite his health problems the news of his death caught McCleary, who spoke with Curran Tuesday night, off guard.
“Shocked. We were not expecting this,” he said. “I speak to coach multiple times a day and he sounded to me like he was on the road to recovery.”
Curran, a Bronx native, went to high school at All Hallows and then St. John’s University. He went on to play Minor League baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies organizations.
He began coaching at Molloy in 1958 and took over the basketball team from legendary St. John’s UniversityCoach Lou Carnesecca. Curran went on to have a storied career that included 17 CHSAA baseball titles, five hoops crown and a combined 47 Coach of the Year awards. He won city titles in three different decades and is a member of nine different Halls of Fame.
“I’m going to miss being around him,” McCleary said.
Curran coached former NBA players Kenny Anderson, Kenny Smith, Brian Winters and Kevin Joyce. Current Louisville basketball star Russ Smith and New York Mets outfielder Mike Baxter also played for Curran.
“Lost my favorite coach, mentor and just a great soul Jack Curran. You will be missed. I will have you in my thoughts every day,” Anderson tweeted Thursday morning.