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Carson Losing Reluctant Coach

June 10, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

To whom it may concern:

Sorry I can't coach here anymore. It has nothing to do with the players or the program or the administration. It has to do with my home. My wife, three children and I are outgrowing it too quickly -- 1,100 square feet only goes so far, as does the real-estate dollar in Los Angeles County. I'm heading for greener pastures in Murrieta Valley (you've seen pictures).

It might have been the friendliest resignation ever. No animosity, no bitterness, no petty jealousies. It came down to one thing -- no more room.

Carson High baseball Coach Kurt Ruth, 34, is resigning after the season to coach boys' basketball at Vista Murrieta, a new high school in Murrieta, because housing has a way of becoming more affordable the further one goes from Los Angeles.

He can't quite leave yet, escrow and soil samples aside. Carson (24-9) has a somewhat unexpected date in the City championship at 7:30 tonight against Chatsworth (32-1) at Dodger Stadium.

The Colts have never won a City baseball title and they're about to lose the coach who got them this far, but in between they have a chance to deliver a whopper of a house-warming gift.

Since 1973, the list of City baseball champions reads like a map of the San Fernando Valley: Chatsworth, Granada Hills Kennedy, Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Granada Hills and Reseda Cleveland have practically taken turns winning the title.

Only one team outside the San Fernando Valley has won the City title in the last 30 seasons -- San Pedro in 1992. Carson has lost all four championship games in which it has played, most recently in 1995 against Kennedy.

Ruth is supposed to coach his first summer-league basketball game with Vista Murrieta in a couple of weeks. He hasn't even met his players. Hit-and-runs are infinitely more important than pick-and-rolls right now.

"I told [Vista Murrieta] I'll be a baseball coach until late Tuesday night," Ruth said. "Then I'll be ready to coach basketball."

The decision to leave Carson after three years was made because of Ruth's ever-expanding family and the booming real-estate prices in Los Angeles. Ruth has friends who live near Murrieta, 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles, so after being hired to teach English, he sold his Lakewood home for $310,000 and bought a new 2,600-square foot home in Murrieta for $317,000.

"I'm looking at myself as a husband and father, and it was a no-brainer," Ruth said. "As a teacher and coach, it was harder. What made it harder than anything else was I wasn't running away from Carson. It was for family. If we were going to make the move, the time was now."

Vista Murrieta had already hired a baseball coach, so Ruth will coach boys' basketball, a smaller leap of faith than it appears. Before arriving at Carson, Ruth coached basketball at Cerritos Gahr for two seasons, leading the Gladiators to a Southern Section final in 1999 against Compton Dominguez and future NBA player Tyson Chandler.

In the meantime, Carson players have rallied around Ruth. They're not taking his departure personally.

"He's leaving for his family and we respect that," shortstop Corey Camarillo said. "That's what made it easier for us to accept when he told us."

Not to mention that Carson has a chance tonight at breaking the Valley monopoly. The Colts threw a scare into Chatsworth before losing a nonleague game, 5-4, in March.

It was a loss, but also a victory of sorts.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," Camarillo said. "We're not approaching them like, 'Oh man, it's Chatsworth.' We want [Ruth's] last year here to end on a good note. Hopefully, we can finish it off [tonight]."


City Baseball Finals

When: 7:30 p.m. championship; 4 p.m. invitational.

Where: Dodger Stadium.

Schedule: Chatsworth (32-1) vs. Carson (24-9) in the championship division; Granada Hills (15-17) vs. Palisades (20-9) in the invitational division.

Fast facts: San Fernando Valley teams have won 29 of the last 30 championships, with San Pedro breaking the run in 1992. Top-seeded Chatsworth is seeking its third title in five years and fifth overall. Carson is seeking its first title.

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