We’ve had some terrific coaches in our town, Weeb Eubank and Don Shula have busts in Canton, Brian Billick and John Harbaugh coached Super Bowl champions and Paul Richards, Earl Weaver and Buck Showalter are among baseball’s best managers.
This week we lost a Baltimore treasure when Buzz Battaglia was called to coach in a higher league. “Coach Buzz” was 69. He was part of our CBS family; Coach’s Buzz Show was heard each Monday night from 6-8 on our sister-station 1300 AM.
The show didn’t have much Hollywood glitter but with Coach Buzz and the boys the conversation was as Baltimore as steamed crabs. On Monday night’s Buzz, his son John Battaglia, Miles Goodman and people like Tony Lombardi talked passionately about the Ravens and the teams and players in our town.
Sure they could occasionally get down on a player or a coaching decision but for the most part it was like a corner-bar conversation about the games and the teams they loved. I didn’t get a chance to see Buzz often, his show was just staring when our show was signing off but when I would run into him it was always a treat.
That same Baltimore laden voice that we listened to all those years selling us Metro and Salvo auto parts with his signature “and Bellllll- Air” location would give me a genuine warm greeting. That was usually followed by a quick sports related exchange and a nice to see you and off we’d go to our separate studios.
It wasn’t just me that’s the way coach Buzz greeted everyone. Coach was a half-full guy that tended to see the best in people not their warts. It was apparent his health had diminished in recent years but his spirit was as bright as ever.
His legacy is his family, his wife, children and grandchildren that meant the world to him, but there’s another family that Coach Buzz nurtured, his youth football family. Back in the 80’s Colts legend Artie Donovan reached out to Buzz to help the struggling Harford/Baltimore County Youth Football League.
Stan Charles from Press Box writes that Buzz was not only able to stabilize the shaky league but when Coach Buzz retired as president of the league in 2007, it had grown to 29 programs with those 500 players expanding to more than 7,000.
He also coached high school football and served on Biff Poggi’s staff that had nationally ranked powerhouse teams at Gilman.
His was a life well lived that touched so many people from Belllllll-Air to Baltimore and all those many football fields and radio’s between. Like so many others I’m fortunate it touched mine. God bless Coach Buzz!