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Local softball coach dies at 65

CV High¿s Dan Berry, arguably the area¿s most successful softball coach, passed away early Wednesday.

October 26, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
  • CV's Erin Ashby, left, gives coach Dan Berry a high five after the team makes two home runs during a game against Burroughs at Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
CV's Erin Ashby, left, gives coach Dan Berry a high…

Dan Berry, who formed and coached the Crescenta Valley High softball team to a CIF Southern Section championship and 20 Pacific League titles, died Wednesday morning. He was 65.

Berry was taken to Verdugo Hills Hospital on Oct. 11 after suffering two seizures inside the Crescenta Valley coaches’ office. After paramedics arrived, Berry went into cardiac arrest and was treated at the scene before being taken to the hospital. On Friday, he was taken off a ventilator and moved into the hospice wing of the hospital, where he died early Wednesday.

Berry coached the Falcons for two stints totaling 27 seasons, beginning when he started the program in 1983. He coached until 1994 before coaching at L.A. Pierce College until his return to Crescenta Valley in 1998. In 1986, the softball team won a CIF Southern Section championship, the first and only in the program’s history and the first girls’ team title.

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At Crescenta Valley, Berry went 570-117 overall and 240-24 in the Pacific League. The Falcons went undefeated in league eight times between 1998-09 and won 20 or more games 20 times under his guidance.

“I don’t have any words that would be able to serve justice for what he did for the program,” Crescenta Valley girls’ Athletic Director Peter Kim said. “He wore many different hats and he did that so well with everybody he came into contact with.”

Under Berry, who began the program in 1983, the Falcons went 570-117 overall (.829 winning percentage) and 240-25 in the Pacific League. Crescenta Valley shared the league championship last season with Burroughs before falling to Oak Park, 6-5, in a Division III first-round playoff contest. The Falcons went 21-4, 13-1 in league last season.

“He recognized the importance of the program at Crescenta Valley,” said former Crescenta Valley Principal Sam Nicholson. “He helped make it a popular sport and he established the program. He developed pride and tradition. He spent so much of his own time when the school finally got its own field and he kept it in great shape. It’s just so sad for me to know that he’s gone.”

Nicholson and Jan McCreary, then the school’s girls’ athletic director, hired Berry in the fall of 1982 to run a program that would go on to be one of the most successful in the area.

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