400th victory: Marietta High’s Burke achieves baseball milestone

BYESVILLE – Marietta High’s 7-2 victory over Meadowbrook Tuesday evening was more than just a crucial East Central Ohio League win for the Tiger baseball team.

It was also the 400th career coaching victory for Marietta co-head coach Larry Burke. Burke said the milestone is a great honor.

“I’m very grateful to get that many wins,” Burke said. “So many other coaches and players that have supported me go into those 400 wins. I’m very blessed. It means an awful lot. 26 years of hard work at one school.”

Burke, who is in his 26th and final year as a head coach for the orange and black, is just two wins shy of Jim Jordan’s school record of 402 baseball coaching victories.

Burke played for Jordan from 1966-1969 during his high school playing career and then took over for him as Marietta’s head coach in 1986. With 10 games left on the Tigers’ schedule for 2013, Burke will have the opportunity to surpass his mentor.

“It’s very special,” Burke said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”

Burke began his head coaching career at Marietta that ’86 season and was the head coach for 18 seasons. After two years away from the team, Burke returned and joined Jim Thrash, who took over as head coach when Burke left, as co-head coaches. The two have held those roles for seven seasons.

“It’s worked well,” Burke said. “You’d think it would be very difficult for two people, but it’s worked out pretty well. We’ve divided up duties and we each kind of work with different areas.”

Said Thrash, “I’ve been a part of many of Larry’s victories, and I’m real proud to be associated with him. It’s been a great opportunity and very rewarding to coach with Larry.

“The kids have been pretty excited about him reaching this milestone. Since the season started, that’s been one of their goals, helping him get there.”

In his time at MHS, Burke has seen some very talented teams and players, including the squads from 1986, 1995 and 1998 that made the regional tournament. However, what stands out most to the veteran coach is two players in particular that he had the chance to mentor.

“I would say a major highlight for me was coaching my own two sons, Larry Jr. and Brandon,” Burke said.

Larry Jr. was a 1999 graduate of Marietta while Brandon graduated in 2002.

Burke was quite the athlete himself. He attended Muskingum College from 1969-1973, where he played both basketball and baseball for the Muskies.

Burke said there are a ton of people he would like to mention and credit for his success as a coach, but wants to wait until after this spring. He would like to focus on the current baseball season, which has seen the Tigers be very competitive.

“It feels really good,” Burke said. “The kids are really working hard.

“We’ve got a lot of difficult games coming up.”

Marietta is currently 9-7 overall and 3-4 in the ECOL.

No matter what lies ahead, Burke has certainly left his mark on the program.

“So many people have contributed to the success of 400 wins,” he said.

“It’s just a great thrill.”