A memorial service for John Scolinos, one of Cal Poly Pomona’s most iconic figures and a record-setting baseball coach for 30 years, will be held Monday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. Scolinos died Nov. 7 at age 91.
The burial service will be held Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier.
Scolinos coached Cal Poly Pomona to three national championships (1976, 1980 and 1983) and retired in 1991 as the winningest coach in Division II history. Prior to becoming head coach, he spent 14 seasons at Pepperdine University where his teams went 376-213.
His all-time record in 44 years of coaching was 1,198-949.
“Coach Scolinos was truly one of the most inspirational educators and coaches in the history of Cal Poly Pomona,” said university President Michael Ortiz. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Helen, their daughter Violet, and the entire Scolinos family.”
“Coach Scolinos left a legacy on this university that probably will never be matched,” said Broncos baseball coach Mike Ashman. “I was proud to have known him and played for him. The lessons that he taught us have had an impact on all of his players’ lives. Not only did he have the respect and love of his players, but the impact that he had on other coaches across the country and to the students on campus who had him as a teacher was equally as great.”
His career highlights include:
- 1,198 victories — the second most of any NCAA Division II coach in history
- Guided the Broncos to three NCAA titles (1976, 1980 and 1983)
- A three-time NCAA Division II Coach of the Year
- Named Coach of the Decade for the 1970s by the College Baseball newspaper
- Selected by former USC coach Rod Dedeaux as the pitching coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Baseball team
- Coached CPP to six CCAA crowns (1976, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1988)
- Named Diamond Baseball District 8 Coach of the Year in 1985
- Five-time CCAA Coach of the Year
- Inducted into the American Association of Collegiate Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1974
- Honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association with the Lefty Gomez Award, for his “outstanding contributions and distinguished service to college baseball”
- The 1976 Cal Poly Pomona Professor of the Year, chosen by students, faculty and staff
- Cal Poly Pomona’s baseball field named in his honor
Current Riverside Community College Coach Dennis Rogers played four seasons for Coach Scolinos (1971-74) and later served four years as an assistant, two of which were NCAA title years (1980 and 1983).
“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.”
“You can’t think of John without a smile on your face,” said California Collegiate Athletic Association Commissioner Robert Hiegert, who coached against several of Scolinos’ teams when he coached at Cal State Northridge. “You were always ready for a battle whenever you played his teams, and we met plenty in conference and at the national level. He was a remarkable human being and a great coach. He had such a great influence on peoples’ lives. I count him as one of my close friends and I was proud to be a part of his life in baseball.”
Scolinos was graduated from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles in 1937. He was a member of the U.S. Army Air Force from 1942-45, serving time as an Air Craft Recognition Instructor and a B-29 radio operator in the Pacific Theater. In 1947, he saw action as a U.S. Merchant Marine seaman.
After the war, he completed his education at Pepperdine, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He later earned his master’s degree at the University of Southern California.
In addition to his college coaching that included a stint as head football coach at Pepperdine, Scolinos also had many experiences internationally. Prior to the 1986 season and for the first six games of the 1987 season, Scolinos traveled to Holland and Italy to conduct coaching clinics arranged by the Sports Exchange USA.
He also took the Pacific Coast College All-Stars to Japan in 1952. That was the first U.S. team to travel to Japan to play baseball after World War II. Later, Scolinos led the USA All-Star team against Japan in 1975 and he also coached the USA All-Star team in the World Cup Games in 1980.
Scolinos is survived by his wife of 59 years, Helen, and their daughter Violet.
Details about funeral arrangements will be posted on PolyCentric as the information becomes available.