An 88-year-old man who coached youth baseball in San Diego for the past 60 years passed away Wednesday following a brief illness, North Park Little League confirmed.
The organization announced the passing of Joe Schloss on its Facebook page, posting this heartfelt message:
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing today of Joe Schloss, who managed youth baseball in North Park for 60 years, the last 57 years at North Park Little League. Joe was 88 years old. He died following a brief illness.
A World War II veteran, and the longtime owner of A-B Sporting Goods in North Park, Joe was a loving husband and proud father. He touched the lives of all those he knew. Generations of baseball players played for Joe, and all who knew him appreciated his love for the game, his passion for teaching and his friendly manner. Joe was one of a kind. Our thoughts are with Joe's family at this time. We will update with more news as we receive it.”
Many people took to Facebook to express their condolences. One person wrote: "The legend will live on" while another posted, "RIP. North Park will miss you."
NBC 7 spoke with Schloss this past May. At 88 years young, he was vibrant and happy, and deeply dedicated to his career as a coach with North Park Little League.
On May 16, 2015, leaders from the City and County of San Diego 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.
That day, Schloss attended the ceremony alongside his wife, Barbara. Some of his former players – many of them 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,” he said at the May ceremony, humbled.
Schloss said his longevity as a coach had 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 told NBC 7.
Schloss, a Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II, coached his first team in 1956, which made 2015 his 60th season. He said he had no plans of hanging up his 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.
Some of Schloss’ 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 another remarkable streak is held by another Schloss – the coach’s wife – who attended every single game, watching intently from the bleachers.
“Most coaches coach when their children are playing and when their children are no longer playing they get out of the program,” Barbara told NBC 7 in May. “He coaches for the love of coaching.”