Ken Dunn’s name is synonymous with South River High. He helped open the Edgewater school in 1978 and served 44 years as a physical education teacher and coach.
Now, Dunn’s name will forever be displayed at South River, fittingly at the baseball complex where he literally spent thousands of hours.
On April 29 with more than 300 people in attendance, South River dedicated Ken Dunn Stadium prior to its varsity baseball game. Athletic director Dave Klingel delivered a brief presentation then asked members of the current team to unveil the new signage.
“There are many words to describe this man as a coach, colleague and friend, but the one that resonates the most with me is caring,” Klingel said. “Coach Dunn truly cared about all the players he coached.
“I hope the actions of naming this stadium in his honor show our same care back toward this man. As a school and a community, we cannot thank you enough for your commitment to South River High and the lasting impact you’ve made on so many.”
Klingel said the stadium rededication has been in the works ever since Dunn retired as South River baseball coach in June 2013. Capital Gazette Player of the Year Scott Mitchell and the rest of the Seahawks sent him out in style by capturing the program’s first state championship.
Klingel said the school administration gave its blessing while the idea was wholeheartedly endorsed by the South River High Athletic Boosters Club.
At Dunn’s insistence, the field itself was named in honor of Kevin Morris, a former South River baseball player who tragically died at a young age. Therefore, the facility will now be known as Kevin Morris Field at Kenny Stadium.
“This is a very well deserved honor and we’re thrilled to honor Coach Dunn. He’s got such a big heart and he is such a nice, gracious person, ”Klingel said.
Klingel pointed out that South River High athletics had three primary “ambassadors” during the initial two decades of its existence — athletic director and football coach Joe Papetti, soccer and lacrosse coach Greg Carroll and Dunn.
Dunn served as a football assistant under Papetti and was head coach of baseball and basketball from the outset. He retired from coaching varsity basketball in 2007 after 29 years pacing the sidelines. The 6-0 victory over Catonsville in the 2013 Class 4A state final was the culmination of a 35-year tenure as baseball coach.
South River baseball’s only other state championship appearance came in 1983 when it was lost to Thomas Johnson in the Class A final. The Seahawks did not capture another region championship until 2008, subsequently losing in the state semifinals.
While that 2013 state title was the pinnacle for South River baseball, Dunn was even more proud that program received the state-wide sportsmanship trophy for baseball from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
“This is not about me. This honors everyone who has ever been involved with South River baseball, ”Dunn said after seeing the sign bearing his name unveiled. “If it wasn’t for the players, this honor would not be possible.
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Dunn, now 75 years old and living near the Delaware shore, said it was the honor of a lifetime to have spent more than four decades teaching and coaching youngsters from the greater Edgewater community.
“It’s like one giant family consisting of the players, their parents, my assistants, the teachers in the school, the administrators,” said Dunn, who thanked his own family, especially late wife Mary and their children, “for allowing me to spend so much time coaching.”
Dunn grew up in St. Michael’s and blossomed into a multi-sport star in the small Eastern Shore town. He transferred to Severna Park High as a senior in 1964 and was a standout in football, basketball and baseball. He was inducted into the Severna Park Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and is also a member of the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dunn played multiple sports at Central Connecticut State College before returning to Anne Arundel County armed with a teaching degree and taking a job with the public school system.
Upon arrival at newly-opened South River in 1978, Dunn received a pointed message from the two men who would become his coaching mentors.
“Joe Papetti and Greg Carroll told me when I first came to this school: If you’re in it for yourself, get out. If you’re in it for the kids, stay,” Dunn said during his acceptance speech following the stadium dedication. “You don’t coach for applause, you coach for a cause.”
Dunn closed the ceremony by reciting the “Athlete’s Prayer” (always one of his favorites) and vowed to shake hands and hug every single person in attendance.