Dennis Barth, the head coach of the Rutgers University–Camden baseball team, and senior Joe Brooks, the captain of the Scarlet Raptors


Dennis Barth, the head coach of the Rutgers University–Camden baseball team, and senior Joe Brooks, the captain of the Scarlet Raptors, helped lead the team to a winning season this spring.

Nick Romanenko

Dennis Barth wears an oversized ring on each of his ring fingers, commemorations of the national championships that he won, in 2001 and 2013, as a manager in the prestigious American Legion Baseball, a showcase for the nation’s best high school- and college-age players. There’s another ring on the way, this one for the 2014 national title, which his team, from Brooklawn, New Jersey, also won. Barth is not sure on which finger that one will go.

And Barth may be adding even more to his jewelry collection in the years to come. Named the head coach of the Rutgers University–Camden baseball program in 2012, Barth has already turned the team around. In his first year, during the spring of 2013, his Scarlet Raptors went 23-19, its first winning season since 2010 and a vast improvement over the dreary 15-24 record of 2012. More success came in 2014 when Rutgers–Camden went 30-13-1, won the program’s first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) regular-season championship, and earned Camden’s first berth in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship tournament.

“We’ve gotten better, but we’re not where we really want to be yet,” says Barth, also the former head coach of perennial baseball powerhouse Gloucester Catholic High School, in Gloucester, New Jersey. “Our goal is always to win a national championship. So, in our mind, we’re 0 for 3.”

With 22 lettermen returning, including sophomore Joe Brooks, who was named as a Pre-Season All-America First Team player, the team had high expectations for 2015, a year that ended with a loss in the NJAC championship game to Kean University, 7–2. Brooks, a former Gloucester Catholic and Brooklawn star player for Barth, led the NJAC in hitting (.421) and on-base percentage (.523) while finishing second in runs scored (49) and hits (67). Redshirted as a freshman at Division I East Carolina University, Brooks jumped at the chance to join his former coach at Rutgers–Camden.

“It’s the work ethic,” says Brooks, a history and education major. “He’s all about hard work, and he definitely stresses doing the little things right.”

It’s the way Barth was taught the game by his father, Joseph Barth Sr., who spent 58 seasons managing the Brooklawn American Legion team until handing it off to his son in 2001. Barth likes to joke that while other kids vacationed at the Jersey Shore, he would be road-tripping with his family to the American Legion World Series.

“Baseball success is really about who thinks; it doesn’t always come down to talent,” says Barth. “The kids who have their heads in the game and can react to situations are going to make a good team.”

And take home a ring or two.                         

— Patrick Monaghan