Making the decision to step down as Southold High School’s baseball coach after so many years on the job wasn’t an easy one for Mike Carver. It was made easier, however, when a doctor told him he needed to have both of his kneecaps replaced.
And so, at the age of 45, Carver walked away from the sport he had been involved in since he was 3 years old.
“I was just wondering how many more years I had in me and, you know, mentally and physically it’s time,” he told The Suffolk Times after making his decision public last winter. “It was definitely time for me to pass the torch.”
That torch was handed over to Greg Tulley, who had coached the Southold junior varsity team the previous two years.
Carver left his mark on the program. Southold was a perennial power during his time. In his 17 seasons, the team went 221-127 (.635), winning a regional championship and a place in the state semifinals in 2015, two Long Island crowns, four Suffolk County titles and six league championships. He was named a league coach of the year five times.
“It was bittersweet,” Southold athletic director Steve Flanagan said of the news of Carver stepping down. “It’s good for him, making a decision that he’s going to be happy with, but losing somebody like that, with all the institutional knowledge that they have, losing that is a big loss for the program.”
Carver, who played for Mercy High School, said he has arthritis in both knees, a result of genetic hip dysplasia. He said he underwent major reconstructive surgery in both knees when he was 16. “That’s when I went from being a catcher to a second baseman,” he said. “At that point they said it very well may be premature arthritis, and it’s been getting worse and worse and worse.”
Carver hasn’t ruled out returning to baseball one day, and he hasn’t given up coaching. He remains as the Southold/Greenport girls tennis team coach, and was on the courts this past fall season, hitting balls with his players.
But there can be no doubt he missed coaching baseball.
“I’m going to miss the sound of the bat,” he said. “I’m going to miss the pop of the glove inside the gym. It was always a sign that warmer weather was coming.”
Photo caption: Former Southold baseball coach Mike Carver. (Credit: Garret Meade)