You won’t find his name in the Guinness Book of World Records and there is no official declaration of unsurpassed dedication to Little League Baseball players, but if San Diegan Joe Schloss isn’t the oldest baseball coach in America right now, I’d like to meet the man who is.
Schloss turned 88 years old last month, although he is 88 years young if you meet him in person, and still coaches the same North Park Little League team of 10, 11, and 12 year olds he has coached for decades.
Schloss, a Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II, coached his first team in 1966, which makes this his 60th season and he has no plans of hanging up the clipboard anytime soon.
“I still enjoy it and I still can stand coming to the ballpark, meeting the kids and having some fun with the children and when it ceases to be fun, I’m not coming back,” said Schloss.
In the time since his coaching streak started we’ve seen the invention of the internet, a space shuttle land on the moon and the rise of Martin Luther King Jr.
His first players are now in their 70s.
He was a founding member of North Park Little League and has a field named in his honor, but some say the most remarkable streak is held by another Schloss.
Barbara Schloss, Joe’s wife, attends every single game.
“Most coaches coach when their children are playing and when their children are no longer playing they get out of the program,” said Barbara. “He coaches for the love of coaching.”
Schloss gets a good laugh when he meets new players or opposing teams who think he is the “real” coach’s father or grandfather.
“I think some of the parents go, ‘Who is he?’ or ‘What does he want?’” he said.
But anyone familiar with the league knows this: Coach Schloss knows baseball.
“I didn’t just wake up yesterday. I know what’s it about and when I tell you to make the play or put the ball in play, I understand the game,” said Schloss.
He says his coaching style has changed through the years.
“I’ve probably mellowed a bit,” said Schloss.
When asked to give other coaches advice, he recommends two things: patience and understanding each kid individually.
And while Schloss may get a lot of attention for the quantity of his coaching, it’s the quality which stands out the most.
On Saturday, City and County of San Diego leaders held a special ceremony at Morley Field to declare May 16 Joe Schloss Day. The coach was honored for his dedication to the sport and players.
Schloss attended the ceremony alongside his wife. Some of his former players -- now adults -- were there to cheer him on, and even former players from other Little League teams showed up.
Schloss said he was overwhelmed and a little embarrassed by the attention, but thrilled to be there.
"It's a great honor," the coach said.
Schloss said his longevity as a coach really has been a team effort helped along by many co-coaches over the decades.
"Sixty years have just flown by. I feel the same way. Time just flies away and what you've taught these kids, you hope they understand and learn," he added.