It was 1971. Then Methuen High track coach Ernie Perry was looking for a new assistant coach when football/track coach Ed Kissell left for a new job.
Kissell recommended a 21-year-old by the name of Bill Blood.
“Bill said, ‘Mr. Perry, I’ve never coached track but I’m going to be the best at it.’ It turned out he was,” recalled Perry.
Blood, who was inducted into the Methuen High Hall of Fame in December of 2011, died Wednesday at age 63 at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton following a brief illness.
While he enjoyed considerable success as a baseball and track coach at Methuen High, Blood often worked behind the scenes as an assistant coach or a youth coach or as one of the best clinicians the area has ever seen.
But several of the top names in the area coaching community agreed he was a rare breed. When they had a coaching question, it was Blood they often consulted first.
Best in the state
“Bill was probably the most superior coach in the state of Massachusetts,” said Perry, who coached track with Blood for most of the next 40 years at Lawrence High, Methuen High and Phillips Academy.
“He attended every clinic imaginable in track and baseball. He wanted to know every aspect of the sport.”
Methuen High baseball coach Eric Cyr was devastated by the news. Blood assisted Cyr last spring.
“He was part of the family,” said Cyr, choking back tears. “When I first met him, I was 11. I was at the Neal Playstead with my dad. He comes walking out of left field. I didn’t know who he was. He drafted me first in Babe Ruth, not because I was the best player but because he saw I loved the game. He coached me in Lions and Babe Ruth and Legion.”