Gunn alum and dad leads softball surge

Gunn softball coach Matt Maltz near the knish section of Piazza's

Gunn softball coach Matt Maltz near the knish section of Piazza’s

I bumped into my Gunn classmate Matt Maltz and his son Andrew at Piazza’s market Sunday and was very impressed to learn that he is coaching the girls softball team at our Alma Mater.

I checked out two games as a way of showing support to my old friend, who I first met in the fifth grade at Fremont Hills. We were also teammates on the Terman football team. Shoulder-to-shoulder, even: on most plays, he was the center and I was left guard, although on passing downs I lined up as a flanker.

Years later, I’ve seen him at several Gunn reunions, seldomly. I did notice his daughter’s name — Casey Maltz – -in articles about Gunn softball but did not realize the full extent of softball as a family activity for the Maltz’s until this week.

On Wednesday, I saw Gunn drop a 6-0 decision to visiting Milpitas. On Thursday, however, the Lady Titans posted a decisive 8-1 win over Santa Clara.

Jamie Sparaco Maltz left early to see one of their sons’ games, but I sent her reports of the imminent fireworks via text. To wit:

WAGER DOUBLE SCORES TWO

GUNN ADDS TWO MORE ON DOUBLE BY LAURA T. 4-0 G

CASEY AT BAT RUNNER ON 3RD

HARD LINE OUT TO RIGHT FIELD. 😦

CHECK THAT 5 TO 0 KLAUSNER HAD SPED AROUND TO SCORE FROM 1ST.

GUNN ADDS 3 MORE IN THE SIXTH ON SCRAPPY HITTING, HUSTLE AND SOME GOOD LUCK, PLUS AN RBI DOUBLE BY KLAUSNER OFF THE FENCE IN LEFT.

GUNN WINS 8 TO 1. CASEY MADE A NICE CATCH FOR SECOND OUT. THEN ONE MORE K TO SEAL IT. 🙂

On my way to the field Wednesday, I caught up to Keith Peters and Veronica Webber of the Weekly and pitched them on doing a story on Maltz. I think its laudable anytime an alumnus returns to teach or coach at his old school. An interesting fact about Matt Maltz is that he was mostly known for football at Gunn and did not play organized baseball. He was also an outstanding swimmer as a child, won the 1980 CCS frosh soph championships in 200 free and fly, but gave up swimming, perhaps as part of his overall adolescent growing process; football being a team sport, consistent with his role in our class as one of the most social and amusing classmates. I actually recall him telling me he hated baseball and once threw the ball from centerfield over the backstop, either in protest, anger or not knowing his own strength (or maybe we was describing a scene from “Bad News Bears” where Tatum O’Neal’s bad-boy friend shows off his arm and is drafted for the team).

Matt became a softball dad coaching Casey for many years in Palo Alto Rec leagues and various local traveling squads. When Gunn found itself this winter with a vacancy for the coming spring, the father of the four-year-starter first-baseman and pitcher stepped up to the plate, so to speak.

In terms of Gunn coaching success stories, he reminds me of Ernie Leydecker who coached Gunn’s famous undefeated streak of 200 tennis matches, 1969-1979 but did not actually play the sport himself .

As the squad, beyond Casey Maltz (the first athlete to clear the new 200-foot home run fence at Gunn, admitted to play next for Div. III University of  Redlands), and Claire Klausner (stalwart pitcher,  averaging about 10 strikeouts per outing, signed to play at Princeton next year, 3rd child of school board stud Barbara Klausner) includes three promising freshman, Maltz says he plans to stay on board for a few years and keep the momentum going.

Kudos (and knishes) to Matt, Jamie and Casey and all the Gunn softball families. (I was originally going to call this post “Mr. Maltz’s Knoopers” but there were too many inside jokes — my second mitt going thru my eight years of organized baseball, ages 8 to 15, was a Rawlings Bobby Knoop fastback model, Knoop — kuh-nop — being a three-time Golden Glover for the White Sox; “Knoop” having some consonance with “knish”, the Jewish dumpling that Matt’s mother Mona famously sold — you can still find Ms. Maltz’s Knishes at Whole Foods, frozen).

There are a couple more home games in the coming two weeks — and games at nearby Fremont of Sunnyvale and Saratoga — if you want to follow the team’s progress towards a CCS berth.  In some ways, beating Paly, as Gunn did two weeks ago, makes any season, but I can tell these young ladies have more to say.

Maltz gives the signs

Maltz gives the signs

John Reid of the Merc wrote a decent piece on Matt, despite missing the alumni angle.

Casey on deck

Casey on deck

As background I reviewed the Ernest Thayer poem, “Casey at the Bat” but will refrain from drawing on that too obviously here.

Matt Maltz, class of 1982 and daughter Casey, 2013; photo by dad's teammate and homeslice, MBW

Matt Maltz, class of 1982 and daughter Casey, 2013; photo by dad’s teammate and homeslice, MBW

edit to add: I caught up with Matt Maltz a year-and-a-half later and he proudly told me that the following season Gunn won league, plus somewhere in there broke a skein against Paly. Nice going, coach! Skol! Salud! L’chaim!

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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