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Monday, March 18, 2002
Knoblauch won four titles as prep baseball coach
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Ray Knoblauch, the father of Kansas City Royals outfielder Chuck Knoblauch and the coach who led Houston Bellaire High School's baseball team to four state titles in a storied 25-year career, died early Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 74.

Ray Knoblauch left Bellaire in 1986 with a 598-225 record, then spent seven more years working for the Houston Independent School District before returning as Bellaire's pitching coach from 1994 to 1997, when he retired for good.

Knoblauch was a pitcher with the Texas League's Shreveport club in the 1950s before going into teaching and coaching. Brothers Charles and Eddie, an outfielder for the Houston Buffs in the 1940s, also played minor-league ball.

Bellaire already had a 1960 state championship trophy when Knoblauch took over the program the next year. The southwest Houston-area school remained a power throughout his tenure, winning titles in 1962, 1971, 1978 and 1986, his last season.

The Cardinals were runners-up three other times.

"If I'd lost (the last game) it'd be easier," he said of quitting coaching. "Every time I didn't get in the playoffs I told my wife I was going to quit. I couldn't stand losing. I'm a poor loser. Luckily, the last four years were pretty good."

The final title came even though perhaps the program's greatest product -- his son Chuck -- missed most of the season with injuries.

"One thing that separated Ray and made him stand alone was that he was the first baseball coach to completely separate his program from football domination, which is King Kong in Texas," said current Bellaire coach Rocky Manuel, who said he was hand-picked by Knoblauch to take over the program in 1991.

Knoblauch is survived by his wife, Linda, and six children. Funeral arrangements were pending, though burial was scheduled for Thursday at Forest Park West Cemetery in Houston.