Former state championship basketball coach dies

Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 6:15pm

Joe Shapiro, the famed basketball coach of old West High in the 1950s, died Thursday morning at age 98.

Shapiro was the coach of the 1954 West state championship team, which was remembered for its miracle run through the tournaments that year. In several games, the Blue Jays trailed late in games, but managed ways to win, several in overtime.

The team held the slogan “All the Way for Doc’’ (West principal Doc Yarbrough) which it carried throughout the tournament. It won the state crown with a 42-40 finals win over Lafolette at Vanderbilt after West had trailed most of the way.

Shapiro attended a 50th reunion party in 2004 at Hillwood Country Club, which included some of the team members and West students, including Hall of Fame broadcaster Larry Munson who did the finals game. It was West’s fourth and final state title.

Notable players on the team included Jimmy French and Ralph Greenbaum.

Funeral arrangements as of Thursday afternoon were incomplete.


2 Comments on this post:

By: frank brown on 4/30/09 at 5:17

He was as different as the era in which he coached.

By: courier37027 on 4/30/09 at 8:41

West High was an excellent school, both for academicsand athletics. Which made it perfect for consolidation into a soul-less, larger feeder school.