By Kyle LoJacono
During the 26-year history of Gaither High School, only one man has managed the Cowboy’s baseball team. Now Frank Permuy will live forever as a hall of famer.
Permuy was named to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s (FHSAA) Hall of Fame Feb. 25.
“When the FHSAA called me I was actually worried because they usually will only call if you’ve broken some rule,” Permuy said jokingly. “When they told me I was named to the hall I was very surprised and extremely honored. There are so many great coaches in the FHSAA Hall of Fame and it’s a pleasure to be among them.”
It is the second hall of fame the coach has been inducted into. The first is the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, which he was named to last year.
“The FACA is for coaches only, so this one is even a little more prestigious you could say,” Permuy said. “The FHSAA has officials, student-athletes and other athletic personnel along with coaches.”
The 2010 class is the 18th group named to the FHSAA hall. The group will be officially inducted at a ceremony April 25 in Gainesville.
“Frank Permuy will join official Clement Brooks, former swimmer Andrew Coan, baseball coach Pat McQuaid, writer Larry Blustein, former football coach Harry Jacobs, the late baseball coach Guy Garrett, official Joseph Rider and the late former football coach Sam Sirianni,” said Seth Polansky, FHSAA spokesperson. “Permuy and the others are all very deserving new members of the hall of fame.”
Permuy, 67, was born in Ybor City and grew up playing baseball, football and many other sports. After a short career in the minor leagues was cut short because of knee problems, he took over as the skipper at Leto High School for the 1971-72 school year.
“We won our district my first year at Leto and I’m proud of that,” Permuy said.
He then coached at the University of Tampa for four years before moving to Tampa Catholic High School. He guided the Crusaders to the 1982 Class 3A state championship.
Permuy took the coaching job at Gaither when the school opened in 1984. He was a physical education teacher for most of that time, but retired from teaching three years ago.
“Now I just coach and it’s a little different,” Permuy said. “Before I could deal with problems as soon as they happen. Now I wait until I come in and get my mail to hear if there are any problems.”
The Cowboys have won eight district titles under Permuy, who was also named the 2007 National Federation of State High School Association’s coach of the year. Gaither’s best finish under Permuy was the 2005 6A state runner-up. He has won more than 500 games during his high school coaching career.
“We went 2-20 my first season at Gaither and that’s the only losing season I’ve had here,” Permuy said. “The next year we won the district, so we got things going in the right direction fast.
“I want to keep coaching because I think I can contribute and help the kids,” he continued. “Although my wife (Danae) might tear the uniform off me before I’m ready. She thought it was time years ago.”
Several of Permuy’s former players became coaches too. One that has stayed in Hillsborough County is Wharton’s Scott Hoffman.
“He’s the reason I got into coaching,” said Hoffman, who graduated from Gaither in 1989. “I’m not the only one of his players that is still in Hillsborough. Landy Faedo at Alonso and Jason Gordon at Tampa Bay Tech did too. He’s got quite a coaching tree going…All I can say is he’s a great coach and deserves to be in the hall of fame for sure.”
During his career at Gaither, Permuy has coached several players who were drafted by Major League Baseball franchises. Of those, Kevin Cash, who played last season for the New York Yankees, and Chad Zerbe, who played four years for the San Francisco Giants, reached the big leagues.
“It’s great when a kid gets drafted, but I’m more proud when they sign with a college,” Permuy said. “I think that’s what coaches should be doing. Getting kids prepared to play at the next level.”
One of the most recent of Permuy’s players to get a college scholarship is senior first baseman Brady North. When he signed to play at Hillsborough Community College, North said of Permuy, “He’s a great coach and I’ve loved playing for him here. He really is Gaither baseball.”
One of the coach’s younger players is sophomore left-handed pitcher Alex Milne.
“It’s a privilege to play for coach P,” Milne said. “He runs a class program and I hope he coaches for many more years. He has all the experience in the world and anyone would benefit from having him as their coach.”