Column: City Section Hall of Fame goes old school with coach Darryl Stroh

Former Granada Hills football and baseball coach Darryl Stroh, right, with former co-football coach Tom Harp.
Former Granada Hills football and baseball coach Darryl Stroh, right, will be inducted into the City Section Hall of Fame on Sunday. His former co-football coach, Tom Harp, is next to him.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)
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At 84, Darryl Stroh is finally being inducted into the City Section Hall of Fame for his coaching across five decades at Granada Hills High. His teams won five City titles in baseball and one glorious, improbable 4-A football title in 1987, upsetting the No. 2-ranked team in the nation, Carson.

Except wins or losses never defined Stroh. It was teaching life lessons to his pupils. He resembled a Marine drill sergeant, with a crew cut and rules that included no long hair and no earrings for his players. He was old school before there was old school. He won baseball titles relying on squeeze bunts. He wasn’t afraid to yell at players to get their attention. In one memorable moment, he flushed the toilet next to the dressing room and told his players, “That’s how we played!”

The City Section Hall of Fame class for 2023.
(City Section)

Stroh moved to Arizona for 10 years after retiring in 2004 before returning to Southern California to live in Santa Clarita.

“Somebody has to try to save the state,” Stroh said jokingly about his return in 2014.

He was scheduled to be inducted with others from the class of 2023 at a sold-out ceremony Sunday in Granada Hills.

He was the baseball coach in 1978 and 1979 and an assistant football coach when John Elway was first gaining attention as one of the greatest athletes in City Section history.

His baseball teams were known for bunting and putting pressure on opposing teams.

“The sportswriters were livid that somebody would bunt with two strikes,” he said. “Then the scouts and everyone were swiping. ‘Hey, we’re trying to win games and build character.’ A home run is darn boring in my book.”

At 23, Stroh was working for Farmers Insurance in 1964. That lasted six months. “I told the guy I couldn’t deal with this stuff and went into teaching,” Stroh said.

His first job was at Patrick Henry Middle School, where his fellow P.E. teacher was Mike Maio, who is also being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Maio went on to coach football and baseball at Woodland Hills El Camino Real.

“I called him and told him there’s nobody in the coaching profession I respect more,” Stroh said.

Stroh’s last baseball game was coaching against Maio, who was known for being emotional. “They’re beating the crap out of us and he’s crying the whole game,” Stroh said.


Stroh has kept in contact with many of his former players. He’s still preaching to them. They understand the notion “coach is always right.” At least that was the case many years ago.

Looking back, Stroh said, “You learn from your mistakes and make adjustments. When I started I had no clue what I was getting into. It got to be more fun as I went along.”

Times have changed as to what coaches can say and do to motivate players.

“I’d be in jail,” Stroh said when asked if he could coach today.

Tom Harp was 34 years old when he was co-coach with Stroh for the 1987 football team that upset unbeaten Carson. Harp, who one day figures to join Stroh as a Hall of Fame coach for his success in volleyball, was asked if Stroh could still coach today.

“He might have to make some adjustments,” Harp said. “I think the kids would still respond to his motivation. He was a definite motivator and leader and somebody who really cared about the kids and stuck to his ideas and standards.”