By CHRIS HOBBS
CLAREMONT – Bunker Hill High’s Marty Curtis is retiring after 35 seasons as the Bears’ head baseball coach.
The school announced Curtis’ decision on Friday.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Bunker Hill athletic department accepted the resignation of Coach Marty Curtis as baseball coach,” a press release provided by Bears athletic director Damon Creamer said on Friday afternoon. “In his 35 years at BHHS, Marty has served as an assistant football coach (and) athletic director but he is mostly known for taking the baseball program here at ‘The Hill’ and turning it into a force in 2A baseball.”
Curtis — who came to Bunker Hill for the 1984 varsity season after 11 seasons coaching the junior varsity baseball team at St. Stephens – closes his prep career with a varsity coaching record of 455-415-2.
His Bunker Hill teams won eight regular-season titles, seven conference tournament championships, three sectional titles and his 2014 team was West 2A champion and state runners-up to Midway.
Curtis, who played football, basketball and baseball at old Granite Falls High, won 105 games as a JV head coach and another 190 as an American Legion head coach at Hickory for six years and at Caldwell County for five years, giving him 750 baseball wins.
“The athletic department greatly appreciates the 3 ½ decades that he (Curtis) has tremendously contributed to its success and wishes him the best,” Cramer said in the press release. “Here, we will always remember that Coach Curtis is Bunker Hill Baseball. He will be missed but not forgotten. Thank you, Coach Marty Max Curtis!”
Curtis, 67, had 15 winning seasons with the Bears — highlighted by the 2014 team reaching the state 2A title series and his 2010 team going 29-1 – and they had 18 losing seasons and two .500 seasons.
Bunker Hill went 55-3 in 2010 and 2011, losing in the third round to Surry Central after a 29-0 start in 2010, and they were 26-2 the next year and fell to Starmount in the first round of the state 2A playoffs.
Curtis closes his career with his last 10 teams each reaching the state playoffs. This season’s team won Northwestern Foothills 2A regular-season and conference tournament titles and finished 19-6 after being eliminated in the first round of the state 2A bracket by league foe Hibriten.
As was often the case with Curtis’ teams, this year’s unit improved steadily. After losing their opener, the Bears won three sraight. By March 16, they were 3-3 and 1-2 in the league after losing back-to-back conference games.
Bunker Hill headed into the Catawba Valley Easter Classic at 7-4 and won two of three to head back into regular-season play at 9-5.
After winning non-league games against Newton-Conover and Lincolnton to reach 11-5, the Bears extended that win streak to 11 games before Hibriten won 4-1 at Bunker Hill on May 9 to open the state 2A playoffs.
Only South Caldwell has a better winning percentage in baseball over the last 10 seasons than Bunker Hill in the Greater Hickory area (Spartans .844 with 233 wins, Bears at .700 with 192 wins).
Curtis’ first two teams at Bunker Hill wen 2-19 and 1-22 and the Bears didn’t have a winning season under Curtis until his 13th season there (14-13 in 1996).
The program moved to the forefront of 2A baseball, becoming an annual state contender, in 2009 with a 15-11 record and by reaching the second round in the postseason.
Curtis’ last 10 teams won 15, 29, 26, 17, 14, 27, 20, 19, 18 and 19 games.
He also guided 15 of his teams to top three finishes in the Easter Baseball Classic, a tournament he helped develop, and the Bears won it in 1998, 2000, 2010, 2011 and finished second four times (1994, 1996, 1999, 2015).
Bunker Hill principal Dr. Jeff Isenhour, who has worked five years with Curtis, said in the press release: “The acceptance of Coach Curtis’ retirement is difficult. Like so many others, I view Marty as a legend.
“It is not often we get to work with such a great individuals who serve as a coach, mentor and model for us in life. Coach Curtis is a true ambassador for baseball as well as for Bunker Hill High School.
“It has been an honor to work with him for the last five years. He is such a part of the fabric of Bunker Hill it is hard to imagine him not being on the field.”
Bunker Hill named its baseball field M. M. Curtis Field in 2004. He’s a member of the Caldwell County Sports Hall of Fame (2016) and the Catawba County Sports Hall of Fame (2017).
In the press release, Isenhour said the school will look internally to find its next head baseball coach.
“This is both his wish and guidance to administration and the athletic department,” Isenhour said. “Coach Curtis has prepared his staff to pick up and have a seamless transition to continue the legacy of winning at Bunker Hill.”
Curtis’ coaching staff this season included assistants Todd Setzer, David Childers and Cameron Beard (also JV head coach) and JV assistant Jonathan Wyant.
The press release said interested candidates should contact Creamer at email@example.com.