Former Calhoun High School baseball coach Joe Corea won 676...

Former Calhoun High School baseball coach Joe Corea won 676 games and two Long Island championships in 42 years. Credit: James Escher / Freelance/Photo by James Escher

Joe Corea’s personality could be summed up by his nickname.

The longtime Calhoun High School baseball coach and math teacher was known as "Gentleman Joe,’’ an homage to his calm demeanor, which drew respect from all he came in contact with.

"He just got along real well with all his athletes and students," said friend and former colleague Rich Schiller, 73, of Bellmore. "To this day, you’ll hear people sing his praises about how he treated them, always with respect."

Corea, a father of two daughters who lived in Massapequa Park for 46 years, died May 31 of a sudden heart attack at his home, his family said. He was 77.

"Every time you saw him, you just felt like you were home," said former player and colleague Jason Elias, 48, of Staten Island. "You walked out to the field and he was there. He was always there and he was willing to put in extra time for every single kid."

That extra time led to a boatload of wins, 676 of them in his 42 years on the bench. But as he once told Elias, the number wasn’t incredibly important to him, at least in the moment.

"I remember when I asked Coach how many wins he had," Elias said, "he always said the same thing: ‘I never worry about how many wins I have. I’ll worry about that afterward when everyone else worries about that.’ "

Eventually, people did worry about that.

The Calhoun baseball field was renamed in his honor in 2015, one year after he left coaching.

Corea won two Long Island championships, one in 2002 in Class A and another in 2012 in Class AA, and three Nassau championships, 2002 in Class A and 2010 and 2012 in Class AA, according to Newsday records.

"It was stressed that it wasn’t just about the winning," said his daughter Jeannie Corea, 50, of Massapequa Park.

"Everything was about playing fair, winning graciously and losing with integrity. It was all about the game and making sure that his players always did the right thing as far as how they approached the sport."

Corea, who taught math at the school for 38 years, also coached football and girls basketball and was the school’s athletic director for 24 years, his daughter said. He retired from coaching baseball in 2014.

"My father always said that he loved getting up every single day to go to work. It was all about the Calhoun community, his colleagues, the students and the players," Jeannie Corea said.

Born Sept. 24, 1943, in Manhattan, Joe Corea grew up in Massapequa Park and later Valley Stream, where he graduated from Valley Stream North High School. He attended the University of South Dakota, where he played football and baseball and earned a degree in math.

After college, he began working as an actuarial trainee on Wall Street, calculating risk. After a few months on the job, he realized it wasn’t the career he wanted and got a job teaching math at Calhoun, where he would stay for the remainder of his professional life.

Corea also ran a summer recreation program at Calhoun and, after his retirement from the high school, taught a math class at an alternative school in the Bellmore-Merrick district, his daughter said.

"I did some quick math [and] I estimate that he impacted 10,000 students," Schiller said. "  Think about how many of us have the opportunity to impact 10,000 people. I would dare say a vast majority, if not all of them, would say nothing but compliments about him."

In addition to Jeannie Corea, Corea is survived by another daughter, Kelly Griffin of Huntington, and two grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 45 years, Mary Jeanne, and was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale, Jeannie Corea said.

With Andy Slawson

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