For a lot of people who are 73 years old, life will slow down a bit.
But Bob Karn may be hitting his prime as Cathedral High School’s baseball coach.
The Crusaders have won 50 straight games and two straight Class 2A state titles. Karn was named the American Baseball Coaches Association Division III High School Coach of the Year on Thursday.
“There are so many good coaches all over the place, but I’m not surprised that Bob won,” Cathedral activities director Emmett Keenan said. “I’ve never met someone more deserving than Bob for an award like that.”
Karn recently completed his 45th season as the team’s coach. He led the team to nine state titles, and the Crusaders are 736-237 in his tenure. For the first time in his career, Karn has led Cathedral to five straight state tournaments. He continues to teach three classes at the high school.
“I don’t know many other coaches who teach English lit and will talk about Chaucer at baseball practice or will quote (the poem) ‘Jabberwocky’ or will have his players study the history of baseball or the Negro Leagues for an assignment,” Keenan said. “Baseball is a different sport and that doesn’t make any of the other sports less important.
“But Bob recognizes the history of the game and having fun playing the game.”
Brindley Theisen, who recently finished his third and final season on the varsity team, agrees with Keenan’s assessment.
“I would classify him as unique,” Theisen said. “He’s not only coaching us in the game of baseball, but in the game of life.
“He tells us that we will only play baseball for so long and it’s going to stop sometime. You want to make sure you’re a good person, also.”
Karn seems to get more successful as time goes on. Since 2001, the Crusaders have won six state titles. The team has gone 125-13 in the last five years.
Keenan said that he appreciates Karn’s perspective on sports.
“He stops by my office and will talk to me for 5-10 minutes a day, and it’s usually about life or grandkids and all kinds of different things,” said Keenan, who has been the activities director for 17 years and has known Karn for more than 25 years. “Sometimes, we never talk about baseball.
“He talks about the professional and family accomplishments of his former players and how important all of that is. In high school athletics, he talks about the importance of being good teammates and supportive of each other and understanding when others around us need help or a pat on the back.”
On June 27, Karn was the grand marshal for the Granite City Days Parade.
Karn was named the ABCA District 5 Regional Coach of the Year on Tuesday and was one of eight finalists for the Division III award.
The ABCA is the primary professional organization for baseball coaches at the amateur level and has more than 6,600 members in all 50 states and 23 countries.
Follow Mick Hatten on Twitter @MickHatten, Instagram @mickhatten and at Facebook.com/sctimesmick. Reach him by phone at 259-3621.