One of the most successful high school baseball coaching careers in the WPIAL has come to an end.
Joe Maize, Peters Township High School’s head baseball coach for 35 years, has informed the school district that he is retiring.
Maize, who led the Indians to a pair of WPIAL Class 4A championships (2007 and 2008), two PIAA silver medals (2004 and 2005), eight section titles and 17 WPIAL and five state playoff appearances, said, “the timing is right” for him to retire.
Peters Township went 13-7 overall this past season, finished as section runner-up with a 9-3 record and made the post-season. Maize was named the Class 6A Section 3 Coach of the Year.
Maize finished his spectacular career with a record of 422-241 record (.637 winning percentage).
“When I had my end of the season (2018) meeting with (Peters Township athletic director) Brian Geyer last year I told him that the 2019 season would most likely be my last year,” Maize said. “ When I started working with our seniors, I realized that I was working with a very special group of young men.
“This past summer I went to a game at The Miracle Field in Upper St. Clair, and I saw our seniors coaching, cheering and supporting the special needs kids who were enjoying the game of baseball. Throughout the rest of the 2018-19 school year, these seniors were great leaders. They made all of our practices and games fun. We had so much fun this past season that part of me wanted to continue coaching, but I had given my word to Brian Geyer that this was going to be my last year. After the 2019 senior awards program, the eight seniors who were awarded scholarships, thanked me for making their senior season a memorable one. All eight parents came to me and said the same thing. I wanted to leave the program with those accomplishments.”
In addition to his long tenure as baseball coach, Maize was the Indians’ athletic director for many years, and he coached a variety of sports at Peters Township through the years. He also taught physical education and driver education.
Maize is a graduate of Waynesburg Central High School.
“The Peters Township School District is indebted to the service of Coach Joe Maize as an educator, coach and athletic administrator over the past 40-plus years,” Geyer wrote in a text to a question about Maize.
“We thank Coach Maize for the very positive impact he has had on the students of our school district. As a baseball coach over the past 35 seasons, (Maize’s) teams not only had numerous championships but (his) players respected the game and represented the community well.”
Geyer added that Peters Township “will honor” Maize and his accomplishments during the 2019-2020 school year. He added more details on those plans will be released at a later date.
Maize said it was outstanding players and a committed and professional coaching staff that allowed the Indians to enjoy success through his seasons.
“I am proud of what our baseball coaching staff has accomplished in the past 35 years,” Maize said. “I am very appreciative of our coaching staff. Rudy Pokorny has been with our program for 26 years. Jack Kerekes was there for 25 years, Andy Manion for 15 years, and Jake Orend for three years.
“We had two coaches who volunteered hundreds of hours to help our players get better. Jim Rider (former head coach at Bethel Park) and Mike DeLucia (former head coach at Baldwin and Canon McMillan) have been important members of the coaching staff. These men love the game of baseball, enjoy teaching the game and working with our high school student-athletes. I believe our coaching staff has earned the respect of the other baseball coaches throughout the WPIAL. I believe our coaching staff is one that our school district can be proud of.”
Under Maize, eight players signed professional baseball contracts and three played in the major leagues, including Chris Peters (Pirates), Brian Simmons (Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays), and Jordan Jankowski (Houston Astros).
Other drafted or signed by MLB organizations were Joe Kail, Jason DiAngelo, Jim Gallagher, Jimmy Rider and Justin Bianco. The program produced more than 100 players who played collegiately.
“Joe had a lot on his plate when I met him,” said Peters, who was a pitcher in the major leagues. “He was my eighth-grade basketball coach. He always looked out for me and did anything and everything to help me. Once I became a junior, he told me not to worry about batting or playing a defensive position. I didn’t like it. But it was probably the right thing. He knew where my future was. Joe’s a really good guy who did a lot for Peters Township as a whole.”
Maize said he will miss the many members of the news media, both newspaper writers and broadcasters, with whom he developed relationships with through the years.
He added he’d consider being an assistant coach “if someone in the area needed one” and that he would like to “help the program that Sean Casey organized at the Miracle Field in Upper St. Clair.”
“I would enjoy helping kids with special needs enjoy the game of baseball,” Maize said. “I have been over to watch our players (volunteer there) a couple of times and it is really something exciting to watch.”
Maize admits he had to change his coaching ways and tactics through the years. One change was instead of going over all his rules with players and parents at the start of the season, he changed to having just two rules.
“One was respect,” Maize said. “The other was don’t embarrass themselves, their parents, their school or our baseball program.
“I believe those two rules cover everything.”