Mark Jordan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach baseball again at Radnor High School.
Jordan, who last spring guided Marple Newtown to the first PIAA baseball championship in Delaware County history, has accepted the head coaching position at Radnor, where he coached from 2012-16 and captured a District 1 title. He left Marple Newtown on his own accord, which wasn’t the case the first time.
After the 2010 season, three years after leading the the Tigers to a state final appearance, his contract was not renewed.
Jordan’s second stint at Marple Newtown ended with a 48-18 record. He pulled off the trifecta of championships – Central League, District 1 and PIAA. He is returning to Radnor for the right reasons. His youngest child, Jack, is a seventh grader in the school district and Jordan is looking forward to someday coaching him in high school.
“In a perfect world, two years down the road this would have happened and I’d have a couple more years at Marple. Next year’s team is really good, obviously,” Jordan said. “Maybe I could’ve done it right, but it happened now. The job was open and I applied for it and was offered the position. My brother said, ‘If you don’t do it now you’ll probably never get a chance to do it.’ I went for it.”
Nevertheless, Jordan wrestled with the decision of leaving “a great gig” at Marple Newtown. It’s not every day a state championship winning coach, considered one of the very best in the area, decides to leave a seemingly perfect situation. The Tigers are expected to once again contend for Central League and postseason supremacy in 2019.
“My buddy is an assistant at Lower Merion and asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m really not sure what I’m doing,” he said, jokingly. “In two years at Marple we won a district title and a state title, which is pretty hard to do. Most teams don’t do that over 20 years, let alone two years. But I have a chance to coach my son. We always say, it’s family first. Selfishly, I had a chance to come back and coach where I live. I know a lot of the kids (at Radnor), too. Next year I’ll coach the Legion team in Radnor, I’ll do the 13-14 Prep team. So, it’s a chance to come back and start fresh.
“It would be nice to have (Marple Newtown players) Alden Mathes and Andrew Cantwell and Kevin Merrone and those kids come with me, but that’s part of the deal.”
Jordan couldn’t go back to Radnor without Delco baseball legend Jim Balk, who from 1966-2003 won more than 450 games as Radnor’s head coach. Balk has been an assistant under Jordan for more than a decade and was instrumental in Marple Newtown’s success the last two years.
“I made sure Balky is on board. Where he goes, I go. We’re all systems go,” Jordan said. “You would think it’s impossible to go from a state championship team to a six-win team last year. Or go from Marple to Radnor, back to Marple and back to Radnor, but we did it. We’re on a different pathway for sure. It is odd.”
Jordan is replacing Joe Kerrigan, who was hired to take Jordan’s spot prior to the 2017 season. Under Kerrigan, the son of former major leaguer and Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan Sr., the Raiders struggled to compete in the Central League. In 2017, Jordan led Radnor to a District 1 Class AAA title, before taking the head coaching job at Marple Newtown.
“We thought we left Radnor in a good place, with some good pieces, but maybe we didn’t,” Jordan said. “We won the first time at Marple, the first time at Radnor. We won the second time at Marple, so maybe we’ll keep it going at Radnor.”
Jordan coached many Radnor players when they were freshmen. Sean Mullarkey, the senior quarterback of the current 6-1 Raiders football team, was Jordan’s starting shortstop in the 2016 district final.
“We’ve got some work to do. Only two kids at Radnor played summer baseball. On the other hand, Marple’s whole team plays summer ball together,” Jordan said. “You need to play outside your season. It does require a year-long commitment. We talked to the kids and we know we’ve got to ramp this thing up a little bit. It’s going to be a fun challenge.”
This will be a rebuilding project for Jordan, who walked into a good situation his second time at Marple Newtown. But perhaps all the Raiders needed was a sprinkle or two of Mark Jordan dust. In addition to his baseball duties, Jordan will continue coaching the Radnor girls basketball team, with which he’s won district and league titles.
“The great thing is, the parents welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “I got 15 or 20 texts. So they’re all happy that we’re back. It feels good to be wanted. We’re excited. My son takes priority, he can play for me down the road. That’s why I’m doing this. We won plenty of games at Marple, now it’s someone else’s turn to win some titles at Marple.
“I told Balky if we never win another title again, at least we won a lot. And we have. Win a district title at Radnor, then win three more titles (Central League, district, state) at Marple, that’s pretty cool. And we won one at Marple years and years ago. It’s fun, it’s bizarre. You can’t even rationalize it. … But we’re doing it and can’t wait to get going.”