Archbishop Molloy Gala Honors Late Head Coach Jack Curran

At Molloy H.S.’s gala honoring the late Jack Curran, University of Miami men’s basketball head coach and Molloy alum Jim Larrañaga, center, is flanked by Molloy Principal Darius Penikas, left, and President Richard Karsten. (Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Sommo/Archbishop Molloy H.S.)

Already entrenched in the mission and culture of the school, the legacy of late Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, coach Jack Curran has added a new chapter. 

On Sept. 20, the Molloy community gathered for a special gala honoring Curran. In the school’s gymnasium — which bears his name — a banner was unveiled with the coach’s still-standing New York State record 972 wins in basketball. Another plaque served to retire his No. 5 jersey in baseball. 

Everyone in attendance received a double-sided commemorative coin that matched the two new plaques. 

The gala also officially introduced The Curran Fund, which will provide a deserving student with a four-year scholarship to attend Molloy. This scholarship ensures — through Coach Curran’s name — that the school will continue to change students’ lives for the better for years to come. 

The event featured many notable former student-athletes who played baseball or basketball under Curran. Among them were former New York Mets outfielder Mike Baxter, U.S. basketball Olympian Kevin Joyce, former NBA player Brian Winters, and University of Miami head men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga, who served as emcee for the festivities. 

“I love Molloy, and I love Mr. Curran,” said Larrañaga, Molloy Class of 1967. “He was the role model, and everything I’ve done in coaching I hope he’d be proud of. He was always there to encourage you, motivate you, and lead you in the right direction. He was truly one of a kind.” 

The gala served as a reunion event for former Molloy student-athletes to reminisce about their favorite Coach Curran stories — of which there are thousands upon thousands. 

“Tonight is a reminder of how Coach Curran, the Marist Brothers, and all of our teachers and mentors at Molloy have made such a remarkable impact on our lives,” said Molloy President Richard Karsten, ’81. “To see so many of Coach’s beloved and respected players gather together in the Jack Curran Gymnasium is very inspiring.” 

Whitey Rigsby, ’74, who played basketball under Curran and went on to play at Villanova University, thrived under his coach’s tutelage en route to being named CHSAA city tournament MVP his senior year as the Stanners won back-to-back intersectional titles. 

“A great night honoring one of the most important and influential individuals in my life and the lives of so many young men,” said Rigsby, now the radio voice of Villanova basketball. “To be able to catch up with Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters, Jim Larrañaga, and my teammates from the 1974 city championship team was a memory I will not soon forget.” 

Jack Curran (Photo: Courtesy of Joseph Sommo/Archbishop Molloy H.S.)

Coach Curran, who passed away in March 2013 after close to six decades of coaching at Molloy, was born in 1930, raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, and graduated from All Hallows H.S. in 1948. He then went to St. John’s University, Jamaica, where he pitched on the baseball team and was a team captain his senior year. 

He played three years of professional baseball in the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies farm systems until a back injury ended his playing career. He decided to give up playing in the minors and turn his attention toward coaching. Curran’s experiences coaching Catholic Youth Organization basketball and semi-pro baseball convinced him to pursue his passion. 

In 1958, legendary basketball coach Lou Carnesecca, who was coaching at St. Ann’s, the forerunner of Molloy, left to take an assistant basketball coaching job at St. John’s. Curran’s opportunity arrived, and he remained at Molloy right up until his death. 

Overall in both sports, his cumulative record was 2,680-960 — a winning percentage of .740. 

In his career, he won 17 city championships in baseball and five in basketball. He is the only CHSAA coach to win a basketball and baseball city championship in the same year, which he accomplished four times: 1969, 1973, 1974, and 1987. 

He was inducted into nine Halls of Fame and won CHSAA Coach of the Year 25 times in baseball and 22 times in basketball. 

It’s hard to believe that more than a decade has passed since Curran’s death. However, the school has remained committed to preserving the legacy of a man who fully dedicated his entire being to the advancement and overall experience of Molloy students.