In baseball, the goal always is to get home.
That’s where Dennis Barth slid safely Friday morning in his return to Gloucester Catholic.
Barth, who helped the Rams to multiple state titles as a player and coach, has been rehired as the program’s head coach.
“It’s a great baseball job to have,” Barth said. “It’s one of the best baseball jobs in South Jersey, in the state. Truthfully, it’s one of the best baseball jobs in the country.”
Barth has been instrumental in Gloucester Catholic’s towering success. He was a star centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the undefeated 1980 team — arguably the best squad in South Jersey history — as well as head coach who took the program to unprecedented heights during a 19-year run.
Barth coached Gloucester Catholic from 1994 to 2012. His teams went 485-94-1 and captured nine state titles as well as six Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic crowns.
Barth replaces Adam Tussey, who stepped down after four seasons as the Rams’ coach. Tussey, who led Gloucester Catholic to a pair of state titles, announced his resignation in November, citing an inability to devote sufficient time to the program.
“Adam did a great job,” Barth said Friday morning. “We’re just going to try to build on that.”
Gloucester Catholic athletic director Pat Murphy noted that Barth was returning to his roots.
“I am so happy to welcome Dennis back,” Murphy said. “In talking with him he seems very enthused to be back home.”
Barth said he hopes to arrange for an ambitious schedule for the Rams, including an annual road trip or two to a prestigious tournament.
“We’ll have to get started on some fund-raising,” Barth said. “I’d like to reach out to schools like Calvert Hall [Md.], Riverdale Baptist [Md.], schools like that, see if we can arrange something.”
Barth said the top priority for the Rams always is winning a state championship. Gloucester Catholic has won 19 state titles since the creation of the tournament in 1971, more than twice as many as any other New Jersey team.
“The expectation at Gloucester Catholic is always to win a state title,” Barth said.
Barth’s hiring is likely to tighten the ties between the Gloucester Catholic program and the Brooklawn American Legion program, which had loosened a little in recent years.
Barth is the coach of the Brooklawn program and has led that team to three American Legion World Series titles.
Barth is renowned in baseball circles for his work ethic, ability to teach fundamentals, and knack for bringing out the best in his teams. In seven seasons as head coach at Rutgers-Camden, Barth was named New Jersey Athletic Conference coach of the year three times and led the Scarlet Raptors to their only NCAA appearance, in 2014.
Barth was not rehired by Rutgers-Camden in June after compiling a 162-123-1 record.
Barth said his future teams at Gloucester Catholic would be similar to his past teams there, stressing pitching, defense, and a speed-oriented, small-ball approach to offense.
“Baseball is baseball,” Barth said. “You have to throw it. You have to catch it. And I still think you have to bunt and run a little bit. I know a lot of people don’t like to do that nowadays, but I still think you have to mix that in.”