Harman in the Hall: Former Westminster baseball coach poised for state's top honor

Bryan Harman will have a quiet spring this year. But he's a busy man this winter. Last weekend, he was honored as the 2011 Maryland High School Coach of the Year by the Maryland Oldtimers Baseball Association at the Del Capri Restaurant, in Dundalk.

And on Feb. 18, the former Westminster High baseball coach will be inducted into the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame at a Camden Yards ceremony. At that same event, Harman will also receive the MSABC District One Coach of the Year award.

The attention is rooted in the longtime coach's success.

In 2011, Harman guided the Westminster Owls to a 23-0 record and the Class 4A state championship. The title-game win over Severna Park was the last game of Harman's high school coaching career. After two state championships in five years, the 1977 graduate of Westminster High was done.

"Any time a coach has a team that goes undefeated and wins a state title, they (Maryland Oldtimers) recognize it as the coach having a really good year," Harman said. "I didn't do anything differently last year than in years past, but I had a great group of kids and everything fell our way.

"Statewide awards hold special meaning," he said, "because there are a lot of great coaches in the state of Maryland."

But the awards aren't just for Westminster's recent diamond crown. The honors mark the career of a coach who loved the game of baseball from the time he began playing in the 1960s, and who found a way to teach it to a generation of young athletes after his playing days were over.

"The Hall of Fame criteria is simple: You need to be successful and win championships, and Bryan has done that," said Bernie Walter, past president of the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches and a member of the Hall of Fame.

"But it's also about what you've done for the game of baseball over the years," Walter said, "and he's done a lot of good things for kids. His teams were always fundamentally sound.

"Westminster High School has always had a good baseball program, and Bryan kept the tradition going," he said.

Harman was a three-sport athlete at Westminster High, but his passion was baseball. After three years on the Westminster varsity squad, he pitched four seasons of collegiate baseball at then-Towson State. When his time with Towson ended, Harman played 15 years of semi-pro baseball with teams from Stewartstown, Glen Rock and Taneytown.

He also coached the Carroll County Rangers and Charles Carroll Cougars of the Baltimore Metro League for several years, and served as an assistant coach with Team Maryland in 2006 and 2007.

He became the head baseball coach at Liberty High in the early 1980s. The highlight of his 12 Liberty seasons came in 1985, when he guided the Lions to a regional title.

Harman took over the Westminster baseball program in 2002 and enjoyed his greatest coaching success at his alma mater.

In 10 seasons under Harman's watchful eye, the Owls won seven county titles, three regional crowns and state championships in 2007 and 2011. Harman's teams at Liberty and Westminster won 253 games in 22 seasons.

"I always stressed discipline, fundamentals and effort," said Harman, now in his 30th year as a physical education teacher in Carroll County Public Schools. "If you're going to do something, don't do it half way. If you're going to put any effort into a task, it only takes a little more effort to give it your all."

Memories far afield

Harman has lived much of his life on baseball fields. Many of those days were spent with his sons, who each won state championships in their senior years at Westminster.

Brett, a senior starter for the University of Maryland baseball team, pitched Westminster to the 2007 Class 3A state title. Cody was the backbone of the 2011 Owl squad that earned the Class 4A state crown, and now catches at Frederick Community College.

"They're very important to me," said Harman, who has been married to his wife, Beth, for 28 years. "For the next few years, I'm going to sit back and enjoy watching them play, because pretty soon they'll have families of their own."