By Elliot Heis
Cal Poly officials, former players and colleagues paid tribute
this week to former Broncos Baseball Coach John Scolinos, who died
Saturday at age 91.
Scolinos was head coach for the Broncos for 30 years and retired
in 1991 as the winningest coach in NCAA Div II history.
Cal Poly’s baseball players are reminded daily of Scolinos’
legacy at the school as they practice and compete on Scolinos
Field, named after the coaching great.
Though it has been nearly 20 years since he coached at Cal Poly,
the positive impact he had is still being felt by those who knew
Current Broncos Head Coach Mike Ashman played for Cal Poly under
Scolinos, and has fond memories of the time.
“He was a great influence,” Ashman said. “I was being recruited
by some Div I schools in junior college, but after spending two
minutes with him, I knew I was coming here even after he told me he
didn’t need a [designated hitter] or first baseman.”
During his illustrious career, he was honored as NCAA Div II
Coach of the Year three times and CCAA Coach of the Year five
times. Scolinos led the Broncos to six CCAA titles and three NCAA
Div II titles in 1976, 80 and 83. He retired with an overall record
of 1,198-949 and a Cal Poly record of 822-736.
He was also a beloved professor at Cal Poly, always encouraging
students to be positive, a philosophy he taught in the classroom,
on the field and by example. Scolinos’ popularity earned him Cal
Poly Teacher of the Year in 1976, an award voted on by students,
faculty and staff.
“He was never selfish,” Ashman said. “He always did what was
best for each individual.”
Dennis Rogers, baseball coach at Riverside Community College,
played for Scolinos for four years and later worked as an assistant
coach for another four.
“When I talk to people about Coach, I tell them that he was a
baseball coach who used the sport as a forum to spread lifelong
messages,” Rogers said. “I was so fortunate to have played for
Coach and to have spent time with him as an assistant coach. If
there was one word to describe Coach, it would have to be that he
was a man of selflessness. He always made time of himself to
others. He was a man of faith who gave endlessly of himself.”
His reputation on and off the field was one of inspiration and
“The thing about Coach is he always did what was right,” Ashman
said. “He never tried to find a shortcut. Even if nobody was
watching, he still had to do the right thing. He didn’t just do
things for baseball, but for the whole university.”
In a written statement, President Michael Ortiz discussed the
positive influence Scolinos had on the campus and offered his
“Coach Scolinos was truly one of the most inspirational
educators and coaches in the history of Cal Poly Pomona,” Ortiz
said. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Helen,
their daughter Violet, and the entire Scolinos family.”
Scolinos’ life was long and full of experiences both on and off
the baseball diamond. After graduating from Los Angeles’ Manual
Arts High School in 1937, he served time in the Army Air Force as a
radio operator on a B-29 in the Pacific theater.
After World War II, Scolinos attended Pepperdine and earned his
bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Scolinos later returned to
Pepperdine as coach for 14 years and obtained a record of 376-213
before moving over to Cal Poly.
Scolinos’ success cannot be solely measured by his NCAA or CCAA
titles, as he was inducted into the American Association of
Collegiate Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1974, two years before
he led the Broncos to their first NCAA Div II title.
“Everyone knows someone who played for him or heard him speak at
a dinner or baseball convention who’ll say he was the greatest
speaker [they] ever saw,” Ashman said. “The best part was it wasn’t
just about baseball, but about life, and how to conduct yourself in
Scolinos is survived by his wife Helen and their daughter
Violet. A memorial service will be held next Mondayfrom 10 a.m. to
noon at the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles.
The burial service will be held the following day at 11 a.m. at
Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.
Courtesy of Dragonflyer Press
A tumultuous year comes to an end
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