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Former Pepperdine coach John Scolinos Passes Away


JohnScolinosPepperdine MALIBU, Calif.John Scolinos, head baseball coach of the Pepperdine Waves from 1946 to 1960, died Saturday morning at the age of 91.

Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.

Scolinos won 263 games in 15 seasons as the Waves’ skipper and his clubs posted an overall winning percentage of .546. Only Dave Gorrie recorded more victories at Pepperdine, accumulating 409 triumphs between 1979 and 1988.

Pepperdine became an established collegiate baseball power in the 1950’s under the guidance of Scolinos. The Waves advanced to the District 8 Playoffs in 1955, 1957 and 1960. The 1957 team came within one game of a College World Series berth before losing to eventual national champion California in Berkeley.

Following his departure from Pepperdine Scolinos experienced even greater success at Cal Poly Pomona, where he guided the Broncos to three NCAA titles (1976, 1980 and 1983) and six CCAA crowns (1976, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1988).  In 1984, he was selected by former USC coach Rod Dedeaux to serve as the pitching coach for the U.S. Olympic Baseball team.

Through 44 years of coaching Scolinos posted an all-time record of 1,198-949. His victory total is the second highest of any NCAA Division II coach in history.

A three-time NCAA Division II Coach of the Year andCollege Baseball Newspaper’s "Coach of the Decade" for the 1970s, Scolinos was inducted into the American Association of Collegiate Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1974. He was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980 as part of its 20-person inaugural class.

The current Pepperdine baseball coaching staff, led by head coach Steve Rodriguez, has honored Scolinos each year since 2005 with the presentation of the John Scolinos Award. The award is given to a Pepperdine baseball player in recognition of exemplary behavior during a season or career. Previous Scolinos Award winners have included Cory Brightwell, Steve Kleen, Paul Coleman, Barry Enright and Brett Hunter.

"It’s a very sad day for baseball to lose a man who had such a great mind for the game," Rodriguez said. "I’ve never heard an ill word spoken of John. He was a man of great character who touched a lot of people’s lives. He was a man whose words and beliefs truly resonated through those that hung around him. I’m proud that our school and program continues to recognize this tremendous baseball mind through this award."

The next Scolinos Award Dinner is slated to take place at Pepperdine following the annual alumni game on Saturday, Feb. 13.

Scolinos 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 (1955-59), 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.

Many more of Scolinos’ career highlights and memories were put to paper for Jerry Miles’ 2007 book John Scolinos: The Man, The Legend.

Scolinos is survived by his wife of 59 years, Helen, and their daughter Violet.

  • Jim

    It would be impossible to exaggerate the lasting positive influence Coach Scolinos had on his students. Certainly, he will be remembered by many hundreds of people with many hundreds of stories about real events, and these stories will include Coach’s quotes, his no-nonsense perceptions, and his absolutely boundless kindness. I will never forget the way he would walk into a crowded room, greet people individually with a handshake, a smile, and good words. Whatever conversations were going on were put on hold because Scolinos was going to talk. And we couldn’t wait to hear a little more about Donkeyville. How many people are there who received their first instruction in Greek with the following word? ypomoni (patience). Thanks, Coach.

  • Thanks for your thoughts Jim.

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