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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Monday, May 6, 2013

On deck with Ferndale baseball coach Annis Joseph

The European Theater.
Definitely not a venue full of popcorn, Jujubees and soda pop.
The European Theater is where Annis Joseph spent a handful of years following his graduation from St. James High School in Ferndale.
Joseph was in the United States Army during World War II. He was a forward scout for the artillery. That is definitely a parade you don’t usually want to lead.
“One time, we were 20 miles beyond our front lines and we didn’t even realize it. That was way too far ahead of anyone. I couldn’t even read a map until I joined the Army,” said Joseph, chuckling.
Joseph’s direction has been pretty certain ever since he was discharged. He came back home to Ferndale and started coaching baseball with the city’s American Legion Post team. He was 23 and did not relinquish space in either the dugout or the coach’s box for more than a half-century.
“I have just always loved baseball,” said Joseph, 89. “I loved working with kids and I loved the competition. As long as my players never quit, it was all right. I never mattered what the score was in that regard; I just wanted them to never give up.”

Longtime Ferndale coach Annis Joseph has traded in his baseball cleats for golf cleats. He spends the winters in Florida these days.
Joseph will be honored during the fourth annual Ferndale High Alumni Games that will be held Saturday, May 11, at the high school.  He was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998.
The event gets underway at noon and will feature baseball, softball and co-ed games. There will also be a barbecue and concessions will be sold. For anyone taking a test drive of a Dodge vehicle that day, the automotive company will donate $20 to the school’s athletic booster clubs.
Coach John Sibula’s varsity boys’ baseball team will take on an alumni team at 1 p.m. The varsity softball team will face the same challenge in a game also scheduled at 1 p.m. Following at 3 p.m., will be the alumni vs. the alumni in a co-ed softball game. The entire event should conclude about 5.
The Ferndale High event is free for spectators. The fee to participate in the games is $25 with a T-shirt, or $50 with a T-shirt and cap.
“Dad was always coaching,” said his son, David. “He started with the American Legion team right when he got out of the Army in World War II.”
It just continued from there. Among his coaching stops were St. James, Bishop Foley, Macomb Community College, Avondale and Ferndale High. Joseph spent nearly 30 years coaching American Legion ball.
His career concluded following his stint as the Ferndale High School varsity baseball coach. He was 76 years old when he stepped down. That was 13 years ago. He will turn 90 in November.
“I still watch baseball whenever I can,” said Joseph. “I just love it.”
Annis and Josephine Joseph had seven children; three girls and four boys. The girls are Janice, Kathy and Paulette. The boys are Michael, David, Raymond and Matthew.
The boys have continued the coaching lineage. Michael is currently the girls’ varsity coach at Hartland High School. He used to coach girls basketball there, too. David is the girls’ basketball coach at Bishop Foley. He formerly coached at Oakland Catholic and Notre Dame Prep. David’s brother, Raymond, who likewise coached at Oakland Catholic and Notre Dame Prep, is also at Bishop Foley. Matthew is coaching at Ford High School in Utica.
Mattew Joseph was inducted into the Macomb County Coaches Hall of Fame several days ago. David is in the Catholic League Hall of Fame.
“Dad always enjoyed coaching. It was a huge part of his life. With it being such a large part of his life, it was also huge in our lives as kids. He coached all of us. Dad certainly inspired us to make coaching a part of our lives, too. Coaching helped us learn how to be a family, and we all try to take that aspect into coaching,” said David Joseph.
The family owned the Annis Party Store at 9 Mile and Hilton for years before selling it in the late 70’s. Many of the store’s employees were young men who played for Annis Joseph.
Prior to his time with the Army, Joseph had a tryout for the Detroit Tigers in Beaumont, Texas.
“I could hit the ball, but they said I was too slow,” he recalled.
Hundreds, if not thousands of young men eventually benefitted from that decision by the major league baseball team. All of us eventually find our niche. For Annis Joseph, it came much sooner than later. Imagine the number of baseball players he impacted. How many did he wave home from the third base coach’s box? How many did he drive home after practice? He left plenty of indelible fingerprints on countless lives, and none of those came from pine tar.

Interested players should call 248.390.4457 or visit the Ferndale Baseball Boosters at