Goldfarb Announces Retirement After Iconic Career

By  //  May 22, 2012

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Greatness is stepping away.

Chuck Goldfarb, one of the Space Coast’s iconic coaches and administrators, has announced his retirement.

HALL OF FAMER: Chuck Goldfarb is best known for his achievements as a baseball coach. After all, he was only the best prep baseball coach the Space Coast has ever known. At Merritt Island High School, his alma mater, and later at Cocoa High, Goldfarb amassed 373 victories against only 130 losses over 17 seasons. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

“It’s time,” he said.

Perhaps it might also be time for a new venture. He doesn’t know for sure. He is an energetic 64. He’ll surely keep busy doing something. It just won’t be working in the Brevard County Public School system, something he’s done now in parts of five decades, going back to the ’70s.

It’s been quite a run.

No doubt, Goldfarb is best known for his achievements as a baseball coach. After all, he was only the best prep baseball coach the Space Coast has ever known. At Merritt Island High School, his alma mater, and later at Cocoa High, Goldfarb amassed 373 victories against only 130 losses over 17 seasons.

In August of 2000, he went to Cocoa High, which at the time was considered a sports graveyard where athletic potential went to die. Goldfarb wanted to take that potential and channel it toward greatness. So he accepted the role of athletic director and built a power, particularly in football. During Goldfarb’s tenure, Cocoa High won four team state championships and seven individual state championships. He relied on some of the coaching expertise already there and brought in others. “Any winning coach knows who the coaches are who can win,” he said.

Along the way, he won two state championships (both at Merritt Island High), two region championships, six district championships and four Cape Coast Conference titles.

But that’s only part of the story.

In August of 2000, he went to Cocoa High, which at the time was considered a sports graveyard where athletic potential went to die. Goldfarb wanted to take that potential and channel it toward greatness. So he accepted the role of athletic director and built a power, particularly in football.

During Goldfarb’s tenure, Cocoa High won four team state championships and seven individual state championships. He relied on some of the coaching expertise already there and brought in others.

“Any winning coach knows who the coaches are who can win,” he said.

All of it, the entire stellar career, was recognized on May 11, when Goldfarb was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame as part of its elite inaugural class.

It initiated an avalanche of people expressing their gratitude for how Goldfarb’s career can’t just be measured in numbers, but also in flesh and blood – the lives he touched and impacted. The emails and messages he received filled not only Goldfarb’s inbox, but also his heart.

Chuck Goldfarb likes to take a well-planned chance, and those gutsy moves as Merritt Island High School’s baseball coach helped the Mustangs win consecutive Class 5A state baseball titles in 1999 and 2000. (For SpaceCoastDaily.com)

From Chris Colella, a former player: “Congratulations Coach. This is a well-deserved honor. The time and dedication you put toward the kids and schools of Brevard is second to none. Without a doubt you are the ultimate in the word TEAM!

On a personal level, you have been a big part of my life on and off the field for getting close to 20 years now. You have made nothing but positive impacts for my family and me.

Not only are you the best baseball coach ever to come through the Space Coast and beyond, but there is so much more to you that goes along with that. You teach responsibility, accountability for your actions, and what it takes to become a good citizen. These lessons stayed with me and will continue with me as I raise my own kids.

The best part of it all is that it doesn’t end when you graduate. You continue to be there throughout our lives whenever we need some guidance. As I am sure all the students of Brevard that have been lucky enough to have you in their lives are proud of you, I share the feelings and am proud of everything you have accomplished.”

From Tom Welsh, a longtime Cocoa High booster: “Your selection as part of the inaugural Space Coast Hall of Fame class is a testimony in and of itself to your contribution to Space Coast sports. I have seen this firsthand and watched programs at Cocoa High evolve and mature because of your commitment, perseverance and fortitude to reach professional and personal goals you set for yourself and the people around you.”

From Tom Welsh, a longtime Cocoa High booster: “Your selection as part of the inaugural Space Coast Hall of Fame class is a testimony in and of itself to your contribution to Space Coast sports. I have seen this firsthand and watched programs at Cocoa High evolve and mature because of your commitment, perseverance and fortitude to reach professional and personal goals you set for yourself and the people around you.”

From JoAnne Lyle, parent of a son who played baseball at Merritt Island High for Goldfarb: “I am a proud to have been a parent and part of the state championships you won in baseball. Looking back on those years now, they were undoubtedly the best years of my family’s lives. You have put in countless hours and dedication to the sports students of Brevard County and I’m sure they will be equally proud of you.”

And on and on it goes.

Goldfarb’s lifetime in sports began during his youth in Long Island, NY – in Massapequa Park, where he mostly grew up. He was a fixture at the Massapequa Park Athletic Club, where one of the organizers, a fellow by the name of Dick Maher, put together something novel at the time, but which is standard today – that being travel teams.

No doubt, Chuck Goldfarb's most famous pupil was Clint Hurdle, who was a legend in youth and high school baseball, and the most promising professional baseball prospect to ever come from Brevard County. (For SpaceCoastDaily.com)

“I was playing 30 basketball games and 60 to 80 baseball games a summer by the time I was 12,” Goldfarb said. “It was a baby boomer city, halfway out on Long Island. It was a great way to grow up.”

It mirrored a lot of what he saw in Merritt Island, when his family moved there during his high school years in the late ’60s, just as the Apollo program was ramping up and the area was exploding with growth, with a lot of young, talented athletes making the Mustangs a power.

“Like most kids, I always had that dream of playing in the big leagues,” Goldfarb said. “But that dream ends for 99 percent of us. When I played, I always felt that I was a leader, and I guess that’s why I felt that I’d always want to coach.”

No doubt, his most famous pupil was Clint Hurdle.

“We’re going to run until we get it right,” Goldfarb told the team. All of a sudden, he heard a dissenting voice. “That’s bull(bleep),” it said. Goldfarb ferreted out the culprit.

It was about the second or third day of practice in 1975, during Hurdle’s senior year playing baseball at Merritt Island High, when he tested the rookie coach – a fellow by the name of Chuck Goldfarb. The rookie coach didn’t like the way the team was practicing, so he had them run … and run and run and run.

“We’re going to run until we get it right,” Goldfarb told the team.

All of a sudden, he heard a dissenting voice.

“That’s bull(bleep),” it said.

Goldfarb ferreted out the culprit.

It was Hurdle, the team’s star player destined to be the highest drafted baseball player ever out of Brevard County.

But that didn’t matter to Goldfarb.

“Go,” he told Hurdle. “You’re done. There’s the gate. Go.”

Hurdle picks up the story, one that he still remembers well all these years later.

“I’m walking toward the gate,” Hurdle said, “and I’m saying to myself, ‘He can’t do this to me.’ I’m walking toward the parking lot, and I’m thinking, ‘He can’t do this to me.’ All the way home, I’m thinking, ‘He can’t do this to me.’ I get home and it hits me, ‘He did this to me.’ ”

That night, Goldfarb had a talk with Hurdle’s father, who assured him that his son would accept any discipline and that he’d not have any more problems with him. So Goldfarb accepted Hurdle back, though he did make him suffer two days of ignominy as penance – running down and retrieving foul balls.

Several months later, Hurdle became the ninth overall draft pick in the 1975 Amateur Baseball Draft. Today, he manages the major league Pittsburgh Pirates and still values the lessons he learned from Goldfarb.

It wasn’t all sports for Goldfarb, though, and it wasn’t all in Brevard County. Goldfarb worked summers at the Space Center during his early years, and as the Executive Director for the United Way in Huntsville, Alabama. There was also a stint as the Executive Director for the American Cancer Society in Brevard County.

Perhaps his most interesting time away from Brevard’s public schools was when he went to the University of West Florida in 1980, and started the baseball program there, eventually returning to the Space Coast so he could coach his sons. But during his two years at West Florida, his team won the Southern States Conference Championship in 1981, when he was named coach of the year. He also supervised the construction of a half-million dollar baseball facility.

Closer to home, while the AD at Cocoa High, he took the lead in finally bringing the school its own football stadium.

“He’s had a heck of a career,” said Mark Hedgecock, his longtime friend and fellow coach. Hedgecock, 62, has been in Brevard County’s school system for 37 years.

“Chuck establishes programs, he doesn’t just establish teams. His coaching ability and what he’s been able to do as an AD, you can’t replace that. So much of Chuck’s success comes from his ability to build a program. You saw those same qualities when he worked for the United Way and the American Cancer Society. Look at what he did at West Florida, how he established that program. You don’t do that unless you know what you’re doing, and you work hard, which Chuck does. They’re not going to be able to replace a guy like Chuck Goldfarb.” – Mark Hedgecock, longtime friend and fellow coach

“Chuck establishes programs, he doesn’t just establish teams,” Hedgecock added. “His coaching ability and what he’s been able to do as an AD, you can’t replace that. I don’t think people fully appreciate Chuck’s overall ability. So many coaches are good coaches because of their ability with X’s and O’s. But so much of Chuck’s success comes from his ability to build a program. You saw those same qualities when he worked for the United Way and the American Cancer Society. Look at what he did at West Florida, how he established that program. You don’t do that unless you know what you’re doing, and you work hard, which Chuck does.

Chuck and his wife, Marybeth.

“Another good example of that is what he did at Cocoa, how he took little ol’ Cocoa High and made them into a power, where the football team won three state championships and they’re traveling all over the country playing games. They’re not going to be able to replace a guy like Chuck Goldfarb.”

No, they’re not.

Greatness is stepping away.

And it leaves behind a huge hole in Brevard County’s public school system.


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2 Comments on "Goldfarb Announces Retirement After Iconic Career"

  1. Charlie Greene May 22, 2012 at 10:58 am · Reply

    Peter,
    Mr. Goldfarb was quite a guy. Only you could have written this story so well.
    By the way, I read the article about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame but didn’t see Doug Flutie’s name. Is Doug in there? If not he should be.

  2. Jim Williams May 23, 2012 at 2:49 am · Reply

    Chuck,

    From the bottom of my heart, thanks for caring about our Cocoa kids. You will be missed!

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