Those of you who regularly hang out here probably don’t think of this as the analytical corner of PressBox. Consider this a change of pace, or perhaps even a curveball, both of which have been thrown from this direction in the past.
We’re stepping outside the box this month — way outside, in fact — to introduce (or reintroduce in some cases) a person as analytical as anyone you’re ever likely to meet, or as versatile, dedicated and passionate.
You can add loyalty to the equation, another term with which Augie Miceli is very familiar.
Miceli has been a teacher, coach, mentor, tutor, counselor — you name it, he’s done it — at Calvert Hall College High School for 60 years. That’s exactly how long it’s been since the school moved from its previous downtown location, which means Miceli has been there as long as the oldest building on the Towson campus.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Miceli even longer. He was a teenager and I wasn’t quite yet. His father was a barber who gave me “cue ball” haircuts, and we probably first met in the shop. He somehow became a coach for my first organized baseball team — and we can fast forward from there.
When he announced earlier this year that he would retire at the end of this semester it wasn’t exactly a shock, since his last birthday cake would’ve required 87 candles if fully lit. But it was probably a bit surprising to some, and to fully understand why, you really had to know him.
Several years ago, more than a few, I asked Miceli how he maintained his enthusiasm. It was at a time frame when many would have moved on, or at least cut back. But that wasn’t his style and he didn’t hesitate with his response.
“I love my job,” he said. “I can’t wait to go to school in the morning.” Note that he said “go to school.” You’ll understand in a couple of paragraphs.
When I decided it was time to write something about our relationship, I Googled Miceli, just for the fun of it, to see if I had missed anything. I hadn’t, but one story in particular caught my attention. It was written by Keith Mills for PressBox in November 2006, and there was a quote that seemed to jump off the page.
“I never feel like I go to work in the morning,” Miceli told Mills. “Teaching is what I do.”
Put those quotes together and you have the essence of Augie Miceli, sometimes a coach, always a teacher.
Many, if not most, know of him as Calvert Hall’s varsity football coach from 1974-1987, including the undefeated (11-0) 1979 team, maybe the best in school history. The Cardinals won six straight league championships and seven straight games against Loyola Blakefield, the longest such streak in Turkey Bowl history.
But that is only part of the story. Before that stretch, he served the same number of years as a junior varsity coach in three different sports — baseball and basketball in addition to football. He also had a stint as varsity basketball coach.
Augie Miceli is a man for all seasons — with the classroom always open.
But always he was a teacher — as familiar with equations as he was with X’s and O’s. His door routinely opened at 7 a.m., his room available before regular school hours for all who felt the need for extra work. Teaching was always his passion; coaching was just an extension.
It was apparent at an early age, even to a wet-behind-the-ears preteenager getting his first taste of competition. Miceli and Bill Maskell, both 15 years old and classmates at City College at the time, were the coaches of my first organized baseball team.
“We were too young to register a team,” recalled Maskell, also still a close friend. “We had to get the father of one of the players to sign us up, which he did — and then let us take over.”
Years later Miceli and I would cross paths again, also in unlikely fashion. His career was already in full motion while mine was still in the developmental stage. As a young (translated: inexperienced) writer for The News American, where part-time work was not only encouraged but often necessary, I inquired about Calvert Hall’s thought to be vacant varsity baseball coaching job, which as it turned out had already been filled.
Instead, because of circumstances I’m still not sure I completely understand, I was offered the job to coach the basketball team and I accepted. That meant, as the junior varsity coach, Miceli had been passed over for a job he could rightfully feel should have been his. It personally presented an awkward situation — that lasted about 30 seconds.
Let’s just say it was a learning experience. You can guess who was the teacher.
I’m not sure how many times he’s been honored — Brooks Robinson might be the only one around here who has him beat — but Calvert Hall is hosting “An Evening with Augie Miceli” May 18.
Bill Maskell will be there. So will I. It will be a nice reunion.
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com.
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Calvert Hall
Issue 254: May 2019