Frank “Bake” Trotman was such a stickler for the rules of baseball that he insisted his players pass an umpire’s test to take the field.
“If you didn’t pass, you weren’t playing,” said Pete DiCiano, who played on the 1979 Haddon Township High School baseball team that Mr. Trotman coached to the Group 2 state championship.
Mr. Trotman, 81, a longtime coach of multiple sports at Haddon Township and Haddonfield, died Monday of an apparent heart attack, according to his son, Sam Trotman.
Mr. Trotman played football and baseball at Haddonfield, graduating in 1955. He played soccer at North Carolina State, returning to South Jersey in the early 1960s to become a teacher and coach at his alma mater.
Mr. Trotman left Haddonfield for Haddon Township in the early 1970s, serving as the Hawks’ head football coach as well as freshman baseball coach.
He became Haddon Township’s head baseball coach in the mid-1970s and led the program to its greatest heights, including the school’s only state title in the sport in 1979, as well as the championship of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic in 1980.
Mr. Trotman was named the South Jersey Baseball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year in 1979.
“He always wanted to be the ‘away’ team,” said Brian Peterson, who played on the 1979 state-title team. “If there was a coin toss and he won, he always took away. He never took home.
“He always said, ‘I want to score first,’ and most of the time he did."
At Haddon Township, Mr. Trotman taught chemistry, an area of expertise that contributed to his upkeep of the Hawks’ baseball field.
“He knew everything about soil and things like that,” DiCiano said. “We had the best baseball field in South Jersey. That was his baby.”
Peterson remembered seeing Mr. Trotman on the baseball field during his lunch break.
“If we had a game that day, he would be out there on his lunch break, picking up rocks,” Peterson said.
Dave Coskey, a 1977 Haddon Township graduate, remembered Mr. Trotman’s teaching the players to slide on the gym floor during rainy days.
“His rationale: If you slide here, you can slide anywhere,” Coskey said.
Mr. Trotman played for Haddonfield coach Russ Spicer and later served as assistant coach in football and baseball under Spicer.
Mr. Trotman’s baseball teams played a similar style to Spicer’s teams, with a heavy emphasis on pitching and fielding and a small-ball approach to offense.
“He loved to bunt,” DiCiano said. “If you didn’t know how to bunt, forget it.”
Steve Flacco, a senior star for the 1979 championship team, said the Hawks regularly used the squeeze bunt.
“If we had a man on third with less than two outs, we were squeezing,” said Flacco, the father of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Mr. Trotman was known to almost everyone as “Bake.” The nickname came from his middle name, Bacon, which was his mother’s maiden name.
Mr. Trotman was a long-time youth coach involved with Haddonfield Little League as well as the Tri-County League.
As a teenager, he was an assistant coach on a Delaware Township (now Cherry Hill) team that made the 1955 Little League World Series. His younger brother Tom, who also became a highly successful coach, was a player on that team that advanced to Williamsport, Pa.
Mr. Trotman also was the head coach at Rutgers-Camden at the end of his career.
“He was just a real person,” Peterson said. “If you did something right, he told you. If you did something wrong, he told you that, too.”
Mr. Trotman lived his later years in Bradenton, Fla. Funeral services were private, but there are plans for a memorial service in the Haddonfield area in April, according to Sam Trotman.
Players from the 1979 state-championship team were planning a 40th-anniversary reunion this spring, an event that now will take on added poignancy with the death of their coach.