Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Norm Avrech remembers Larry Arnerich

We received this note a while back:

(photo on the right is Larry Arnerich)

Don't ask me how but for some reason I thought of Larry Arnerich today and the profound effect he had on my life. So I "googled" him and found your recent article, which also included info on people I knew in high school, George Clark, Ray Silva and my friend of many years, Norm Mineta.

Larry was my coach at San Jose High from 1944 to 1947 when I played 110, 120 and 130 exponent basketball.

My last two years during basketball season I would peddle home to 20th St., wolf down dinner, and peddle back to SJ High to referee adult league basketball games, two on Tuesday and Thursday nights and three on Wednesday nights! I literally refereed hundreds of games with Larry. I was a little squirt then and more than once Larry would firmly let it be known that he would default a team that questioned my call. Can you imagine what this support meant to me?

As a coach Larry was a model of fairness, firmness and advocate of team basketball. I suppose he was a father figure to many of us. Out a player went if he took a bad shot, even if it scored.

Our lightweight teams had many Nisei, returned from camps in Nevada, who played outstanding ball for Larry. Norm Mineta was one example. Larry's whole offensive strategy was highly disciplined involving ball movement and progressive screens until a player was freed for a lay up.

Defensively, we played both zones and man-to-man. The 110 and 120 exponent teams hardly ever lost, maybe never, but my memory of sixty years ago, is shall we say, a bit dim and conceivably jaded.

Larry was very insistent on shooting free throws underhand, that is, unless you could hit eight of ten overhand. Larry was almost flawless shooting underhand blindfolded! Well, all time Bulldog and Spartan great Ed Maggetti had no problem meeting the test since he was a deadly one hand shooter. (I recall him almost beating the Harlem Globetrotters single handed at SJ Civic Auditorium before they brought along their own group of stooges so as to prevent embarrassments.)

Larry also was a superior bowler: He had a classic smooth four step delivery, and if I recall correctly he carried a 193 average in league play. Larry's dad, who was a fine bowler himself, owned a lounge and restaurant on Santa Clara Avenue near second street, appropriately named "Arnerich's."

As an aside, I also wrestled a bit for an incredible character, Sam Della Maggiore, who later became a county supervisor. Sam actually coached the tennis team, which was hilarious, since a number of us on the team knew more about the game than Sam.

In my senior year, under George Eglin, we had a great team. For example, Dick Russo and I knocked off the national boy's champions in a Golden Gate Park tournament and Dick Steinhauer came close to beating the national junior champion in another tournament.

I also served as sports editor of the Bulldog during my junior and senior years. How I ever got any homework done and earned good enough grades to be accepted into Cal Berkeley's engineering school is beyond me.

If you talk with Larry please give him my best regards...I think he'll remember me...and tell him that I'm still swinging a tennis racquet as I close in on eight decades of life.


Norm Avrech

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