The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

May 19, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Harrick greatest WVU two-sport coach

MORGANTOWN — The late Steve Harrick was the longest-serving, most-successful two-sport head coach in West Virginia University’s athletic history.

He was a 1924 graduate who played football and baseball, then returned to WVU in 1947 and spent 20 years as head baseball and 29 as wrestling mentor. Yet he also found time to serve as associate professor in the School of Physical Education.

Harrick was a high school classmate of the late Art Rooney Sr., founder and owner of the famed Pittsburgh Steelers, at Punxsutawney, Pa.

The gentlemen remained close friends for many, many years.

Before putting his two significant sports on the national map as Mountaineer coach, Harrick had served 14 years as head coach of all sports at West Virginia Tech.

Harrick also had played as a professional in regional football and baseball leagues in Wheeling, Fairmont, Steubenville, Ohio, all of which had teams. He also served briefly as an instructor and wrestling coach at WVU until 1932.

During his 29 years as wrestling coach, Harrick’s teams compiled a record of 155-99-4 (.603 winning percent). His teams won seven Southern Conference championships and 42 of his matmen captured individual conference crowns. As impressive as were those numbers in wrestling, Harrick enjoyed even better numbers in his 20 years of coaching baseball. His record on the diamond was 334-161-1 — a winning percentage of .678. Six clubs won Southern Conference titles and seven earned NCAA Tournament district playoffs berths.

Making his Mountaineer career even more awesome is the fact that Harrick had just two losing seasons. His 1963 baseball team was the first in school history to win as many as 30 games, finishing the year with a 30-3 record.

Eighteen of his players were selected by professional organizations to play baseball. One of those was Paul Popovich, an outstanding second and third baseman who went on to play 12 years in the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Popovich, who now lives in the Chicago area, played two years in Harrick’s baseball program and in 1960 had a .427 batting average. That school record held up for 30 or 40 years.

Here is what Popovich said of Harrick: “I had a lot of respect for Steve Harrick both a coach and a person. The thing I remember most about him is that he was a very serious, no-nonsense type of coach.

“I think he knew the game of baseball pretty well. He even taught a course in baseball at WVU.”

Harrick also coached Bill Marovic, WVU’s first All-America first-team selection in baseball. He was an outfielder who batted .404 in 1965.

Harrick was inducted into the charter class of the WVU Sport Hall of Fame in 1991. He’s also a member of the West Virginia Hall of Fame selected by sports writers.

But the most cherished of his numerous awards and honors probably was his induction into the Association of College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1975. Two days after presenting his longtime friend for induction into that shrine of coaches, Art Rooney watched his Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl.

Steve and his deceased wife Della Harrick had two grown sons, Tom and Bob.

1
Text Only
Mickey Furfari
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Blaney wins 100th Sprint Car race

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may be of interest to you:
    • Dale Blaney, the all-time great West Virginia University basketball star, has achieved another historic notch in his athletic career as a Sprint Car racer. He posted his 100th career riding in the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio last weekend.

    April 12, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- What a wonderful evening with Dr. Stanley ‘Coach’ Kandzari

    This column really is not about sports, per se. But, more importantly, it is about a widely known medical doctor whose nickname happens to be “Coach.”

    April 8, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Turnbull endured many tragedies growing up

    Coach Craig Turnbull, the latest head-coach victim of Oliver Luck’s shocking series of firings at West Virginia University, had generally enjoyed what many rate as an outstanding career not only in athletics but in life.
    Like the present, there also were some very difficult times for him as a youngster.

    April 6, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: All-time WVU great QB Bernie Galiffa dies at 63

    It was very sad to learn that Bernie Galiffa, one of the most outstanding quarterbacks in West Virginia University football history, had passed away.
    The three-year letterman for famed coach Bobby Bowden died last Thursday in Wilmington, N.C., at the age of 63.

    April 4, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Is $106 million in facilities updates really key to WVU sports success?

    You may have heard or read that West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is planning to spend $106 million for major projects.
    According to published reports, that is to improve athletic facilities, including Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium and the WVU Coliseum (yet to be named for a rich donor).

    April 2, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Who’s next on Oliver Luck’s hatchet list?

    Who’s going to be next on Oliver Luck’s sad house-cleaning list as West Virginia University’s athletic director?
    Craig Turnbull, the outstanding head coach and builder of the Mountaineers’ wrestling program for 36 years, was notified on Friday afternoon that Luck shockingly announced that his contract will not be renewed on June 30 for next year.

    March 30, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Herbie Brooks one of Catlett’s early standouts at WVU

    Herbie Brooks, a native of Beckley, was an All-Stater at Mullens High School and demonstrated his talents at West Virginia University from 1984-89 in men’s basketball.
    The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard performed admirably under coach Gale Catlett’s direction.

    March 29, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads