Sadly, on May 20, 2013 I lost my Father, Joseph R. Carlozo, following a 5-year long battle from complications of a dehabilitating stroke; he was 85 years old. Pop was best known as the former Calvert Hall College, H.S. Varsity Head Football Coach. He was born in South Philadelphia, PA on March 10, 1928 to my Grandparents, Italian immigrants Joseph Thomas Carlozo, a painter and Concetta Carlozo (née DeVicaris), a homemaker.
A 1946 graduate of Philadelphia’s Southern High School and a member of their Football Hall of Fame, as well as The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Chapter, Pop played in the historic 1944 & 1945 Philadelphia Football Championship games at Franklin Field against West Catholic High School of Philadelphia (Calvert Hall’s sister school) the latter of which was attended by over 54,000 strong; This game is often referred to as “The Bobby Sox Bowl” and is still talked about to this day. With Southern trailing West Catholic 13-0 with only 7:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Pop was instrumental with several key plays allowing Southern to go onto win on the last play of the game. He was also on Southern’s track team having competed in the Penn Relays. From Southern High, he attended West Chester State Teachers College (now West Chester University) playing for Head Football Coach Glenn Killinger, a Penn State All-American. As a freshman he would lead the nation in scoring, a record held until 1973 when it was broken by Tony Dorsett of University of Pittsburgh. A “Little All-American” while at West Chester, Pop is also a member of their Football Hall of Fame. He was referred to as “The Golden Ram” while West Chester was still simply nicknamed “The Rams”. After graduating from West Chester in just 3 over years he was drafted in the 7th round by the New York Giants, but declined the offer deciding instead to enter the teaching and coaching (football and basketball) profession and to marry his high school sweetheart Genevieve Pologruto, also of South Philadelphia PA. At a relatively young age of 25, Pop would get the football head coaching job at Palmyra High School in Palmyra NJ, leading his team to a championship in just his second season.
In 1958 looking for better opportunities, our family moved to Baltimore with Pop initially working at the then newly constructed Towsontown Jr. High School and later Calvert Hall in 1961 where he would teach and coach until 1973. During his tenure as Head Varsity Football Coach (1967 – 1973) he recorded 43 wins, 22 losses and 2 ties for a .662 winning percentage. His 1969 team was voted No. 1 in the State of Maryland and his 1972 team won the MSA “A Conference” title. Pop’s most historic win as head coach was against rival Loyola High School on the 50th Anniversary of the Calvert Hall – Loyola game Thanksgiving morning in 1969 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. With the game tied 14-14 and 4 seconds remaining on the clock, Coach Carlozo summoned 2nd team place kicker Phil Marsiglia who had never previously kicked a field goal in game competition. The task itself was daunting enough, but the distance, 42 yards, was not, at that time, even common at the professional level. Marsiglia not only made the field goal, but remarkably it could have been good for another 10 yards! In a letter to his former coach dated April 12, 2012 Marsiglia would say, “There are times in a young person’s life when the confidence of a trusted adult can have a profound and long-lasting effects. The opportunity you gave me in that football game over 40 years ago instilled in me the confidence to be self-assured and successful in life. Thank you for having faith in me and more importantly, for teaching me to have faith in myself.”
In addition to teaching and coaching, Pop was also an entrepreneur in several business ventures which included Bon-Air and R-E-S (Recreation-Education-Sports) Day Camps, Scholastic Tutoring Service and Captain Joe’s Steamed Crabs. He was also instrumental in founding the Calvert Hall Quarterback Club.
After leaving Calvert Hall in 1973, Pop returned to the Southern New Jersey/Philadelphia vicinity where until his retirement he was active in sales coaching. In 2007, he and my Mom Genevieve relocated to Forest Hill, MD to be closer to family. Five months later, my Mom passed away. They had been married 57 years and had 3 sons and 8 grandchildren.
Pop’s influence on my life was profound. Here is his eulogy which I delivered on May 28, 2013 at Evans Funeral Chapel in Forest Hill, MD:
Good Evening and welcome. Thank you all so much for coming here tonight to join our family in honoring the life of my father, Joseph Richard Carlozo.
So what is it that I can say to add to everything that has already been said so far. You all know about the football player, the coach, the teacher. The stories are legendary and will continue on for as long as we all shall live…but what about the father, the man I first called Daddy, then Dad, and for 30 or so years, simply Pop. During the last 5 years of his life when he was bedridden in a nursing home, we spent a lot of time together, had numerous talks, shared laughter, tears and at times disagreements. We talked about God, and events in our lives never previously discussed. We got to know one another all over again, with a father understanding a son, and a son understanding a father like never before. As hard as the last 5 years was for both of us, especially him, it remains priceless in my life’s book of memories and I think I can say it did for Pop as well. As I stand before you tonight, I can tell you without any reservation whatsoever, I am proud to have him as my father, and I am proud to be his son and that I will miss him dearly.
He was tough on me growing up, very tough, but he was tough because he always wanted something better for me and, he knew how difficult life could be at times when you had to “lay down and bleed for a while before you could rise and fight again”. But most Importantly, he felt in his heart that I was capable of more. For all you coaches out there, you can understand that the desire to help a young man or woman reach their full potential doesn’t simply end on the field of friendly strife, the basketball court, the baseball diamond, the lacrosse or soccer field or even in a swimming pool, it follows one around day-in, day-out, into the classroom, and quite simply in all our endeavors in life. For all you parents, I’m sure you can relate as well. In my case, it actually followed me home every night. Life as a coach’s son was 24/7 whether I was playing for him or not.
When I was wrong, he told me point blank, no washy washy sugar coated niceties. But if I needed help or support, he was always there to ferociously defend me. You just knew he had your back. He wasn’t trying to win any popularity contest or felt obligated. It was just part of his DNA and natural instincts.
As tough as he was and could be, he had a compassionate side not only for me his son, but from what I could see all his players and his fellow man. In reflecting back, I vividly remember the time before starting my first varsity football game at Calvert Hall as a sophomore. I found a letter I wrote to my grandparents back then and I was 14 years old, 5’10 190 lbs. and while physically capable I was scared to death lacking self-confidence. This was September 1967 before Pop was named Varsity Head Football Coach; he was the freshman football coach at Calvert Hall at that time – again he instinctively knew I was upset, and at home early Saturday morning before the game, he said, Joey, come on, walk with me. And so outside we went into our neighborhood in Timonium and we walked around the block and we talked. He put his arm around me telling me that everything was going to be OK – and remarkably it was. His calmness in the storm gave me strength and was a big part of the foundation I would begin building as a football player, and onto becoming a man.
Not that he didn’t see faults and/or weaknesses in others, he just simply refused to say and/or accept negative things – he always felt that behaviors did not necessarily define a person and that they could be corrected through focusing on self-improvement. He believed in others more than they believed in themselves, and perhaps more importantly, when they did not believe in themselves. When he had money, he’d give it away. His home was your home, his car was your car. He was generous to a fault. This behavior didn’t start as an adult, it actually goes back to one of his earliest childhood memories, and you have to remember that he grew up in the Great Depression. And so the story goes Pop was about 8 years old. His mother had just bought him a new coat, and so he wanders outside to play one day when he comes across another young boy who is cold without a coat, and so Pop takes his new coat off and gives it to this young boy to keep him warm – the young boy then ran off thanking him. As he returns home, my Grandmother asks Pop where his new coat is and she gets no answer until he finally spills. Grandmom shakes her head, smiles and assures him she is not mad. That incident, as it turns out, set the tone of many things to come in Pop’s life.
He lived life to the fullest in “high definition” before we had ever heard the term. He loved everybody. When he’d mention friends and fellow coaches, it just wasn’t just Fred Kern, Tom Bateman, Augie Miceli, Dave Shannon and Mike Gallagher, It was FRED KERN, TOM BATEMAN, AUGIE MICELI, DAVE SHANNON AND MIKE GALLAGHER as if they were Roman Gladiators descended from the heavens above. It was the same for his players. I think it’s fair to say that he got the most out of his players, regardless of their ability. You know it didn’t really matter if he was coaching a freshman, JV or varsity game, or whether it was football or basketball, every game was like the Super Bowl to him. He especially loved the underdog, David & Donald Fitzmaurice know that as well as does Pat Stringer. He loved to take an athlete who was not playing football and develop that athlete into a football player – Gordy Bengle, Mark Amatucci and Doug Radebaugh are all examples of this. While I was blessed to play on many great teams with many great coaches, no one could motivate a team and its players like him – he was, quite simply, in a league of his own. He could laugh at himself along with everyone else and have a great time doing so – just ask Coach Fred Kern to recall the night we went to his house to have dinner when I was about 10 years old. Although we lived in adjacent neighborhoods about 3 miles apart, Pop got lost and decided to take a shortcut only to get stuck in the mud in a field about 100 yards from Fred’s house. Fred was in disbelief – we all laughed so hard and still had a great time being together, but upon leaving Pop made a wrong turn the other way only to get stuck in the mud, for the 2nd time on the same night, this time in a different place. When we called the tow truck driver for a 2nd time that night, he thought it was a joke. He didn’t realize that this was classic, quintessential Pop. Nobody laughed harder than Pop himself.
Pop did not see color in his fellow man – he simply saw his fellow man. His first teaching job after graduating from West Chester State Teachers College in 1950 was at Shoemaker Jr. High, a predominately black school located in a tough part of West Philadelphia. It was there at Shoemaker that he would first coach basketball with many of the 9th graders on his team eventually going onto the NBA. Little did I realize but that experience prepared him for his job in 1958 when we moved to Baltimore at the newly constructed Towsontown Jr. High School at the corner of Fairmount Ave & York Roads which was planned in part of the integration of Carver High School, an all-black school in East Towson. Maybe its ironic, but sadly, I just read that Towsontown, now called Carver Center for Arts & Technology, is scheduled to be torn down at the close of this school year; we had many fond memories at Towsontown.
Still Pop’s days at Calvert Hall were by far and away his happiest. It was during this time that my younger brothers Louis and Tony were born and every weekend one of the Christian Brothers would be over our house enjoying Mom’s Italian cooking along with a glass of red wine and provolone cheese. Pop loved provolone cheese so much one day he came home with a 90 lb. piece of provolone that was almost 6 feet high! My Mom was speechless. For the next year, everyone who visited us left with at least a 1 lb. piece of provolone. Talk about a small world, but at Calvert Hall, Pop would meet Brother Kevin Stanton who had seen him play West Catholic (another Christian Brothers school) in the City of Philadelphia’s championship game some 17 years earlier – as a kid and still to this day I find it incomprehendable that a high school game could have 54,000 people in attendance. Football aside, Brother Andrew, Brother Gregory, Brother D. John, Brother D. James, Big Brother Paul, Brother Regis, Brother Kevin and Brother G. Paul were like an extended family not only for Pop, but all of us in the Carlozo Household. I strongly believe much of the Christian Brothers’ philosophy and Pop’s were one in the same. And there at Calvert Hall he would meet Fred Kern, Tom Bateman, Augie Miceli, Frank Clary, Spence King, George Kropp, Dave Shannon, Jack Murtaugh, Lou Heidrick, Mark Trotta, Frank Bramble, Jay Robinson, Bob Kroppfelder, Lou Civitrese, Mike Gallagher, Denny Cox, Dick Edell, Ken Steiner, and last but not least, Leonard Monfredo, all good men, very good men. He thought the world of each of you.
So what would he say now if he could talk to us? First he would not want us to be sad. He believed in reincarnation and someday, somewhere in spirit he’d be back for another crack at it. He would tell us that ‘life is a gift”, and thats why they call it “the present”. He would want us all to have a glass of chianti and provolone cheese. He would tell you, if you cant go first class, then stay home. He would remind us that fortune favors the bold, not the reckless and that whatever we cast out in life, whether it be good or bad, has a strange way of returning to us. He would tell us that the law of learning is quite simply repetition and remind us that’s how we learned our ABC’s and multiplication tables. He would say don’t wait for your ship to come in – go swim out to meet it. He would tell us that he did not treat all his players the same and upon reflection perhaps this is why he was able to motivate his players the way he did – some he was real tough on like me – some he was protective – some needed challenges, others encouragement – much like a parent he saw things in his players and people in general they did not see in themselves. And for the members of the 1969 Calvert Hall football team he would want you to know that he actually penned the letter from Brother Andrew’s hospital death bed to “win one for the gipper” so to speak before the Thanksgiving Day match-up with Loyola.
He would want you to sing, he loved singing and even believe it or not he even wrote a few songs back in the day the most memorable about former Orioles First Baseman Diamond Jim Gentile. The year was 1961 and Gentile was on fire hitting back-to-back Grand Slams in one game against Minnesota. And so Pop writes a song about Diamond Jim –“Oh Diamond Jim Gentile can knock a ball out-of-sight, when his big bat explodes like dynamite. Look here comes Diamond Jim Gentile, now strike up the band, he’s the newly crowned King of Maryland. Oh do you know, why bird fans go, for Diamond Jim Gentile? Thankfully, thats all I remember. Pop would tell us to always be ourselves and to dare to dream. And that in life you choose whether to win or lose – so choose to win. Always the coach and the teacher until the very end of his life, even to me, he would tell us that your success is based not on your ability but rather on your commitment, determination, perseverance, intestinal fortitude, will to win and the relentless effort to never stop learning. He would remind us once again that enthusiasm finds its origins from the Greek words en (within) and theos (which relates to God) and that whatever we do in life we should do with our heart, full of enthusiasm and that success would follow us everywhere.
And lastly he would want us to be at peace with one another, family, friends, spouses, siblings, loved ones, alumni as well as professional and business colleagues. He would then quote from the Lords Prayer….”and forgive us our trespasses“…then he would stop, and pause, and look us straight in the eye and conclude…”as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
There will never be another one quite like him – I thank God for giving me him as a father, a friend and a coach – I love you Pop – you will always be my hero – I will miss you dearly. May God Bless you all.
As the service concluded, we played the song “Thank You For Being A Friend” by Andrew Gold. Although I was familiar with the song and its tune, I had never really taken the time to read the lyrics…when I did, it literally took my breath away http://www.elyrics.net/read/a/andrew-gold-lyrics/thank-you-for-being-a-friend-lyrics.html. The cards, the thoughts, the flowers, the prayers not to mention having so many come and gather and celebrate Pop’s life helped tremendously in the grieving process. I can’t thank everyone enough. Still, my brothers, my children, my nieces and nephew, along with so many former players and students in some way, shape or form carry on his legacy…..Pop will always be with us.
Have a GREAT day!!! May God Bless You!!!!
Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)