Written for the Bedford Gazette
King on Deck in County Sports Hall of Fame InductionNorthern Bedford has been fortunate to have a great mix of coaches on the staff throughout the years. For the past 8 years, the King has been noticeably missing from that shuffle. However, the King is now on-deck to become a permanent card in the Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame. The induction is scheduled to take place at a banquet this year on June 8th, at Heartland Hall.
A self described “above average competitor” in his day, Eddie King is the first to admit that it would be his coaching that qualified him for the Hall, not his ability as a player. “I learned the game while playing baseball and spending time with my dad,” recalls Ed.“There were no T-ball, little leagues, teeners or other avenues for young players – so I didn’t get started playing organized ball until I was in ninth grade.”
“We also played a lot of pick-up games in the fields of Bedford County then. That is where I learned the fundamentals of the game.”Eddie graduated from Replogle High School in 1954 where he played four years of varsity baseball.
“I always tried to be highly competitive and play the game with a sense of urgency,” explains King. “I never considered myself as a gifted athlete however. But, I did give all that I had as a player.”
After high school Eddie continued playing softball for many years. “I played in several fast-pitch softball leagues, especially the Morrisons Cove League,” remembers Ed. “I was primarily a pitcher, or at times, a catcher. But, I played a number of other positions when not pitching or catching.”
Upon graduating from Shippensburg State Teachers College in 1958, he returned to the Cove and began his coaching career in the spring of 1959. He served two years as a baseball assistant, and then became a head coach in 1961.
Baseball has changed much since those early years in Bedford County. “When I became head coach in 1961, a 10 to 12 game schedule ended the season. There were no district or state playoff games,” explains King.
For the next 40 years, Eddie coached the Panthers to an impressive 397-227 record at Northern Bedford. His record was only surpassed by his longevity. His wisdom transcends not only baseball, but life in general.
"I would like to be remembered as a coach who attempted to give his best, promoting a positive influence in the lives of his players. My greatest win would be for them to come away from the program with transferable values to sustain their success in the 'bigger' game of life."
“I thoroughly enjoyed my coaching career and looked forward to each new season and its many challenges,” Eddie proudly proclaims.
- Instrumental in forming a feeder system consisting of organized teams at the Little League, Pony, Teener, and Junior High levels.
- Coached the NB Teener Team for 40 years collecting 400+ season, playoff, and tournament wins.
- Career High School Record, 397-227 (.636 winning percentage)
- Total High School Coaching Seasons – 42
- 5 District Titles
- Bedford County 397 Wins - A Record for Bedford County
- Bedford County League Titles – 7
- Sideling Hill League Titles – 7
- Most Wins in one season at NB – 21-3 in 2000
- Record during the last 15 years as a head coach , 218-90
- Non-losing seasons as a head coach – 35
- Seasons qualified for District Playoffs – 14
- Seasons qualified for State Playoffs – 5
- Advanced to the Western Region State AA Semi-finals – 1987
- Advanced to the Western Region State AA Finals – 1982 * also a County Record*
- Named NBC Coach Emeritus – by the NB School Board of Directors
Eddie, like all head coaches, realizes the importance of coaching a player’s attitude too. At times, “this is just as imperative as coaching the fundamentals.” Some of Ed’s favorites in “attitude adjustments” are listed below:
1. A winning attitude is vital! Never expect to lose.
2. I strongly believe in the statement, “Champions are willing to do the little things that losers refuse to do.”
3. Speed, defense, hustling, and a good attitude show up every day! Hitting and pitching can vary from game to game.
4. Avoiding mistakes and executing fundamentals can be a big equalizer to an opponent’s superior talent.
King will not comment on naming the best players he coached through the years. Always promoting baseball as a “team sport,” he only acknowledges coaching 20 future college players and 1 future professional player.
He did however recall a few of the more memorable teams from his remarkable tenure.
- The 1972 Team which defeated Class AAA Somerset for NB's first district champion, the highest state title available at that time.
- The 1987 Team which advanced to the PIAA - AA Western Region Semi-Final
- 1992 Team which advanced to the PIAA - AA Western Region Final
- 2000 District V AA Champions, with the most wins in a season at NB, 21-3
“I was also blessed with much support from the school, the community and from my family,” continues King. “When the program was in need, Arlan Barkman of Barkman Oil and Birch Snider of New Enterprise Stone and Lime were always there to help financially or with equipment and materials. I owe many people a lot of thanks through the years.”Today, King still resides in the Cove, in New Enterprise, with his wife Grace (the former Grace Snyder).
His daughter, Katrina Gentsch and her husband Kevin, live just up the road in Salemville. Katrina followed her dad’s footsteps as an educator and presently teaches in the Vocational/Technology Center in Altoona.
Eddie, always a sports’ enthusiast, still follows the NB Panthers, the Altoona Curve, the Pirates, Penn State, and the Steelers. He also is quite the bowler, remaining very active in the leagues at the Huntsman Lanes in Martinsburg.
King continues to stay involved in many church and community-service organizations too. One in particular is the Northern Bedford County Athletic Association, which was responsible for the construction of the new Panther Community Stadium. He has served on the financial sub-committee of that important association from the start and is responsible for much of the contributions to that cause.
Congratulations Eddie, from the entire NB community and the whole county. You have always excelled as a family man and as a teacher-coach. In the realm of baseball, you have always been a Major-Leaguer. As a person, you are truly a Hall of Famer. You are deserving of this honor.