Parisi retiring as La Salle's baseball coach

Posted: June 20, 2014

JOE PARISI was a senior at La Salle University, finishing up a practice teaching assignment at North Catholic when he was intercepted by then-baseball coach Larry Conti.

"He said, 'What are you doing after school?' " Parisi recalled yesterday as he watched the Phillies in his office. "I said, 'Nothing.' He said, 'You're coaching JV baseball.' And that's how I started coaching."

Well, after 28 years as the head Explorer in charge at La Salle High, Parisi has decided to retire, citing a multitude of reasons.

"As much as I'll miss the competitive part, it is time," said Parisi, who will remain a faculty member and the school's director of athletics. "My responsibilities around the school have increased over the last few years. I felt as though I wasn't giving as much time as I possibly could have to the baseball team."

Last week, Parisi led La Salle (21-6, 12-3) to its second PIAA Class AAAA championship in three seasons. His four career Catholic League championships are tied for third best since 1945 (John Mooney owns the top spot with six at St. James).

In a career that spanned from 1986 to 2014 (sabbatical in 2004), Parisi-led squads advanced to at least the PCL semifinals 17 times and only twice (1986, 1995) missed the playoffs.

"In my mind it is time; physically and emotionally," he said.

After 4 years of coaching JV at North Catholic, Parisi served as an assistant at La Salle High before becoming the head coach in 1986.

"Twenty eight years is a long time," he said. "People have said to me, 'You must be crazy to coach high school for 28 years.' And I think I've kind of proven that point right."

An open search will take place to find a new coach, Parisi said. A committee, on which he will not sit to avoid potential conflicts, will interview and then recommend a replacement.

This season, eight Explorers were chosen by league coaches as All-Catholic selections (six first team). Senior Dom Cuoci (Saint Joseph's University) won Red Division MVP and Pitcher of the Year.

"I've coached a lot of great kids over the years and this group was certainly not an exception," Parisi said.

After losing to Roman Catholic and eventual champ Ss. Neumann-Goretti in the Catholic League playoffs, La Salle won its last five games (City Title against Washington and four PIAA games).

"It's kind of bittersweet because I've really enjoyed coaching along the years. I've come across some magnificent kids, players and parents that I'm going to miss."

"It's not like I'm retiring completely," added Parisi, who will be PCL baseball moderator next season. "I'm still going to be a teacher and an administrator at the school."

A quote, which he borrowed from a recently retired faculty member at La Salle, illustrates Parisi's point.

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened," he said. "That's the approach I've been taking."

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