The Obit For Jack Curran

Jack Curran, the legendary baseball & basketball coach at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, dead at 82

Curran won more basketball and baseball games combined than any other high school coach in the country. He was named CHSAA Coach of the Year 25 times in baseball and 22 times in basketball, winning city titles in three different decades.

By Julian Garcia and Mitch Abramson / New York Daily News
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 10:39 AM

Jack Curran, who over the course of 55 years as the coach of Archbishop Molloy’s baseball and boys basketball teams won more games than anyone else in the country, died on Thursday after a string of health issues, leaving behind a legacy of selflessness at the Queens high school.

He was 82.

Curran had recently broken his right kneecap in a fall outside his home and also was fighting lung cancer and kidney issues that required regular dialysis treatments, but he died “peacefully in his sleep” at his home in Rye, according to a statement on the school’s website.

News of Curran’s death first broke on social media websites but was later confirmed by Molloy athletic director Mike McCleary, who had filled in for Curran over the final three weeks of the basketball season following a fall last month that required him to stay at a Westchester rehab center for several weeks.

After the Stanners lost their final game in the playoffs on March 3, several players expressed disappointment at not being able to extend their season to give Curran a chance to return to the bench. Two days later — in what was his final interview — Curran told The News he was disappointed, too, but looking forward to returning to Molloy in time for the upcoming baseball season.

Now, the team’s first game of the season, scheduled for Saturday against Iona Prep, has been postponed until after Curran’s funeral services, which have yet to be arranged.

“I lost my favorite coach, mentor and just a great soul,” tweeted former Molloy basketball star Kenny Anderson, one of several of Curran’s players who went on to play in the NBA. “Jack Curran you will be missed, I will have you in my thoughts every day I live. Thank U.”

In a joint statement, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who graduated from Molloy in 1959, called Curran “an institution in the world of New York City sports.

“While Jack was known for basketball and baseball victories at Archbishop Molloy, his even more impressive achievement was helping to shape the lives of the thousands of students he taught over the past 55 years,” they said.

A routine trip to the doctor last July revealed a cancerous tumor on Curran’s lung, and he had also been undergoing dialysis treatments three times a week. But he was coaching right up until he slipped and fell on ice in a parking lot outside of his apartment in early February. On his way to church at the time, and with no one around to help him up, Curran pulled himself up by the door handle of his own car and, with a bloodied knee, still made it to church.

But after returning home, the pain in his knee became “excruciating,” so he called his upstairs neighbor to take him to the hospital, he said in an interview with The News on March 5. His kneecap was broken and he was sent rehab at the United Hebrew Nursing Center in New Rochelle.

“They say I’m doing pretty good,” Curran told The News at the time. “But for me, pretty good would have been getting out of here in two days because I miss my games.”

Over the course of his coaching career, which began in 1958 – a decade after he graduated from All Hallows HS in the Bronx – Curran won more varsity basketball and baseball games combined than any other coach in the country. He finished with a basketball record of 972-437, while winning 1,708 baseball games and losing just 523. His overall winning percentage was 74%.

Curran’s ability to coach two teams in back-to-back seasons left other coaches in awe.

“I have no idea how Jack would jump right into the next sport,” said Bob Hurley, the legendary basketball coach at St. Anthony in Jersey City.

After attending St. John’s University, Curran pitched in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ and Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league organizations. He had numerous opportunities to coach basketball in college but chose to stay at Molloy, right up until the day he died.

“As a coach, Jack Curran’s record speaks for itself,” former St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca said in a statement released by the school. “I can’t think of anyone in high school sports that had the record that he had in both baseball and basketball. The individuals that he produced at Molloy form an outstanding group, and he went out of his way to help so many over the years that were not from Molloy. Jack Curran was a giant of scholastic athletics, and that is an understatement.”

Curran never married and did not have children. His sister, Helen, died several years ago.

Molloy president Richard Karsten, who called Curran, “very modest, very humble...a good Christian,” said Curran has a nephew who is coming to New York from his home in London to organize his services.