Hall of Fame

AL FIGONE

 

Inserted in Chapter Eight in My Completed Book: See More And Talk Less: Applying the Mental Aspects of Baseball: A Coach and Player’s Guide

The following coaches, players, and sportswriters have been selected to Figone’s Hall of Fame because they have taught me so much about myself during a lifelong of seeking self-improvement including coaching baseball. They like my wife and children are the best people I’ve ever known.

                                                              Coaches                                                              

Barry Woodhead, San Francisco State: The most knowledgeable coach I’ve ever known about base running, base stealing, and creativity in crafting drills, practice sessions, and game preparation strategies. He began the process of showing me how to become a “student of baseball” and to continually interact with coaches asking questions without fear of revealing what I needed to learn.

Bob Bennett, Fresno State: We played Bob’s teams when I coached at San Francisco State. His coaching success speaks for itself. His commitment to teaching the game to others via his prolific publication record and academic approach as a teacher of the game is a “gold standard” in the baseball coaching profession. A true disciple of Pete Beiden.

Bob Brian, South San Francisco High: Bob and I are good friends and competed hard against each other including one 13-inning game that we won 1-0. It was the best well played high school game I’ve ever seen. In my second year of coaching during a 19 consecutive game losing spell and after a game, Bob took me aside and said: “Look, I know you’re doing great job, just continue what you’re doing, success will come.” How could a coach ever forget those words?

Augie Garrido, University of Texas: I knew Augie when he coached at San Francisco State in 1969 and later in 1970, 1971, and 1972 when he coached at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo as we’d play the Mustangs in pre-season during my first two years at San Francisco State. I distinctly remember him always talking about how he was seeking ways to improve his coaching style. His book cited in previous chapters illustrates he’s never stopped. Another Beiden product.

Joe McGrath, Jefferson High: My high school football coach whom John Madden described, “As the finest man he’d ever met” Joe was the most caring coach with whom I’d ever interacted. If I’ve been a tenth as caring as Joe as a person and coach, it’s because of this great man.

Jim Bowen, California State, Stanislaus, CA: A smart, great coach, and academic who left us way too soon. I’ve never seen a colleague take a bunch of mediocre and a few good players and coach them to consistently “play over their heads.” He was always tough to beat year in and year out.

John Goelz, San Francisco State: A dedicated coach from the day he began coaching. John was cut from our team as a pitcher in 1973. In 1976, he was humble enough to ask me if he could coach at San Francisco State. From the beginning, John combined his knowledge of the game, respect for players, and teaching ability in developing in players the self-motivation to improve by working hard. His monster success at Sonoma State has assured him a place in the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.

John Herbold, Lakewood, CA High: When I began coaching in 1964, John was known as a legend in Southern California high school baseball. I used his outstanding book full of easily comprehensible photos for years. A Stanford graduate, his intellect was remarkable and his contributions to the baseball coaching profession set a high bar for the rest of us.

John Scolinos, California Poly, Pomona: When we traveled to Southern California, John would play us twice. When in the Bay Area, and he could fit a game in his schedule, he’d play one game at San Francisco State. Playing his teams was similar to attending a clinic. Besides sharing his vast baseball knowledge, he illustrated to the rest of us that “humbleness in coaching” was a motivator.

Lowell Creighton, Sr. Daly City, Ca Youth Coach: My first baseball coach with the Holy Angels Colma, CA Parish CYO baseball team. Lowell, Jr, and I grew up together and shared the thrills of learning how baseball competition could be fun and exciting. Remarkably in June, 1955 Lowell was signed by the San Francisco Seals and in his first start, pitched a 2-0 shutout against the San Diego Padres at Seals Stadium. Although Lowell never moved higher in baseball, he for years played semi-pro, worked for P.G. & E., and was an outstanding husband and parent.

Pete Beiden, Fresno State: To this day, I’ve never forgotten how Pete in his baseball theory class and program, created my desire to be a baseball coach. Whenever I coached, it was Pete’s style of teaching fundamentals that I tried to emulate as best as possible. I’d see him often at clinics when I was coaching, still learning, humble, and respecting baseball. Anyone who played in Pete’s program left with the knowledge to coach baseball required the total dedication in becoming a lifelong baseball student.

Phil Swimley, University of California, Davis: We played Phil’s team in the Far Western Conference beginning in 1971, when in my first year at San Francisco State, we won the conference title. Phil then, as he is today, graciously offered his congratulations. After 1971, Phil’s UC Davis Aggies continued to be well coached, tough to beat, rarely beat themselves, and played smart. Since I’ve moved to Folsom, CA and we live relatively close to each other, I’ve come to learn that he’s a dedicated learner of the game
always challenging like a good scientist any technical aspect of the game seeking to find the best method for teaching aspects of the game.

                                                              Players                                                             

Alan Lou, San Francisco State: A 5’5’’ 130 lb. second basemen who started on our 1971 championship team and three more years. A student of baseball out of high school. Taught and coached in Las Vegas until he retired. One of the smartest individuals I know.

Benny Robinson, San Francisco State: Benny had four of the five skills that scouts want to see. I wish they had measured his determination. What a winner! I never saw Benny as less than pleasant. And, that quick and line drive swing.

Bill Downing, Terra Nova High: Converted to shortstop as senior and played the position like he owned it. One of the two leaders on our 1969 Central Coast Section (CCS) Champions. Later started at the position for University of San Francisco (USF), and in the Atlanta organization. Like his entire family, a winner!

Bob McClure, Terra Nova High: Bob had his demons in high school as he pitched and won the final 1969 CCS game by throwing the hardest fastballs I’ve ever seen in high school against a strong hitting Santa Cruz, (CA) High team. Duane Kuiper said his move to IB “was the best he’d faced.” Has spent most of his life as a “major leaguer.”

Bob Turner, Terra Nova High: After three years of hard work and improvement, became an All-League pitcher in 1968 with a “killer fastball.” Pitched for and graduated from USF.” After teaching public school for 30 years in Washington State, and coaching middle school through high schools teams as well as numerous community youth sports, Bob became a business partner with his wife, Katherine. They’ve raised three daughters and a son who have blessed them with seven grandchildren so far.

Brian Camozzi, Arcata High: What a consistently positive and team player attitude. In the three years Brian played at Arcata, our total losses were in a single figure including two league titles. A pitcher, SS & 2B, he beat you with his head.

Brian Shumard, Arcata, CA High: Floundered for three years in high school seeking direction, Pitched the 1990 Arcata, CA High team to the league title and league MVP. I’ve lost track of Brian, but have no doubt he’s a successful parent, worker, and person.

Bruce Lee, San Francisco State: Leading starter on the 1971 SF State champions. After warming up for 45 minutes, he’d pitch nine winning innings and never threw a pitch to the same location and speed twice and his pitches always moved. One of the smartest pitchers I’ve ever coached.

Buddy Papadakis, Terra Nova High: Loved to win, improve, and played for Berdy Harr at Cal Poly. Later he and Bob McClure coached the Sequoia High (Redwood City, CA) to a CCS title in 1989. Great spouse, parent, and father who left us too soon. A superb clutch player. His parents were major leaguers!

Clint Brill, Humboldt State: One of the two best catchers I’ve ever coached and received a sizable bonus from Atlanta. He and his wife have raised three boys and today Clint teaches high school expertly teaches the game to others.

Dustin Dutra, Arcata High: A player who “was into the game” mentally as any player I’ve ever coached. An excellent student and today one of the best coaches you’ll find anywhere. At McKinley, CA High School and a real teacher of the game.

Gary Hernandez, Terra Nova High: Brother of Cardinals and Mets’ IB Keith. My favorite “success story.” After a mediocre 1968 junior and outstanding senior high school seasons, played at California, Berkeley in 1971 and hit .456, PAC-Player of the year, All-American, and broke several of Mike Epstein’s Bears and Pac-8 records. Although his Dad and I did not always see “eye to eye,” he was a great baseball teacher and with his wife Jackie, raised two fine “major league” individuals.

Gary Wilson, Arcata High: As talented and hard worker as I’ve ever coached. One of Sacramento State baseball team’s leading pitchers and scholar-athletes. Triple-A pitcher in the Pirates’ organization who pitched briefly with the parent team. “As intelligent as they come” and did not waste his mental and physical talents. He and his wife Kasey are excellent parents. Gary now scouts for the Rockies.

Greg Lynch, Terra Nova High: An outstanding defensive player who “spot played” during his high school career. Our 1969 CCS title would not have been won without two of the two greatest catches I’ve seen in high school made by Greg during the CCS playoffs. Never whined about his playing role.

Greg Reynolds, Arcata High: I coached Greg individually for two years. Always worked as hard as I asked and “then some.” Developed a “monster curve” and became an outstanding location and change of speeds pitcher in his senior year. Played and graduated from the University of Pacific in Stockton, CA with a degree in business.

Jack Mayer, Humboldt State: Pitched successfully at Humboldt in 1981 and then transferred to Jim Bowen’s program when baseball was dropped at Humboldt where he led the Warriors to the 1982 Division Three College Championship. He knew “how to pitch and win.”

Jim Davis, Livermore High: A brilliant 4.0 high school student who split catching duties as a senior. Later matriculated to Fresno State where he became an outstanding catcher for Bob Bennett. His baseball determination outsized his academic accomplishments.

Joe Victory, San Francisco State: Starting rightfielder on the 1971 SF State team and 25 year-old ex-Marine sergeant. The best clutch hitter on the team. A perfect leader.

John Armstrong, San Francisco State: From Oceana (Pacifica, CA) High School by way of Skyline (San Bruno, CA) College. Excellent fundamental catcher always listening and worked hard at improving in baseball and academics.

John Burgess, Terra Nova High: A 5’6,’’ 150 lb. mediocre pitcher until his senior year when he only lost one game all season. Pitched TN to the league and CCS title in 1969. Was selected to Northern All-Star Team that played the Southern All-Star Team in the inaugural California high school All-Star game. He didn’t look unhittable, but “just beat you.”

Marty Coil, Terra Nova High: Marty was one of the 19 survivors and quarterback on the 1961 Frosh-Soph team. The first team I coached. We began with 71 players and because I believed the “Bear Bryant mentality” was the way to coach and lost 52 players who probably never have forgotten the bad experience. I hope some of the 52 have forgiven me. In Marty’s senior year he led the league in hitting with a .440 average, moved on to San Francisco State, and later played in the Giants’ organization. He later
returned to TN as a baseball coach and in 1979 coached the Tigers to a CCS title.

Mike Buskey, Terra Nova High: Transferred to TN in 1967 from St. Ignatius (SF) High. Struggled at S/S and I moved him to the outfield until he came to me one day crying and said. “I’m an infielder, I want to play S/S.” Moved him to 2B. Starting SS at USF and briefly played with Phillies. Mike was right. He was a SS. Became a top executive with Home Depot in Atlanta.

Mike Calder, Terra Nova: In 1969 as a junior, batted a league-leading .500. Had all five tools and received a baseball scholarship to Cal-Berkeley. Mike was his own man, independent thinker, very coachable, and worked hard in practice to win.

Mike Rawlings, Terra Nova High: One of the two best catchers I’ve coached. A four-year varsity starter who never missed a pop fly. He and Billy Downing’s leadership skills were superb and influenced Bob McClure more than anyone I know. An All-American at College of San Mateo and as a senior split catching and DH’s duties with Clint Myers for Jim Brock at Arizona State. The team lost to USC 4-3 in the College World Series title game and compiled a 56-6 season record.

Nick Gentile, San Francisco State: A three-year starter and All-Far Western Conference pitcher who with Bruce Lee were the dominant conference pitchers in 1971. Out of Jefferson (Daly City, CA) High, Nick shut out our 1969 strong hitting TN team twice. A pitcher who “took the ball and won.”

Pat Day, San Francisco State: Our 1971 All-Conference third basemen who was one of the best college hitters I’ve ever seen. He could adjust to any pitcher, after a missed swing, and to adversity better than any player I’ve ever coached. He always hit the ball hard from foul line to foul line. The only thing, which kept him out of the majors, in my opinion, was his size.

Rich Atkinson, San Francisco State: Split catching duties with John Armstrong and both were from the same high school and junior college. Rich was an outstanding worker and any coach would have praised his loyalty, dedication, and unselfishness. He truly cared for others.

Rich Washington, San Francisco State: Our starting SS on the 1971 SF State team as a sophomore. Had all five tools and one of the best college SS’s I’ve ever seen. His disposition was beautiful. Had to drop out college because of family obligations. Had he continued in college, there’s no doubt in my mind a professional team would have drafted him.

Tim Lutz, Terra Nova: In pure athletic skill, he was one of the best I’ve ever seen and coached in high school. Played the outfield as a junior in 1969 and second base as a senior. He could play any of the nine positions including catcher well. An excellent football player and later parent and spouse.

Troy Ghisetti, Arcata High Starting 2B on Arcata (CA) High league 1986 championship team. Ten years later he coached his almamater to a league championship. Troy’s baseball talents may not have been the highest, but nobody had a higher desire and determination to succeed as a parent, spouse, teacher, and coach. Today, a 17-year veteran and outstanding baseball coach.

                                                         Sportswriters                                                        

Horace Hinshaw, Pacifica Tribune: Horace wrote about baseball and other sports out of pure love and care for athletes and coaches. He has been the strongest promoter of Pacifica sports of which I know. When interviewing a person, one can easily see he genuinely cares about the individual. A “monster” in unselfishness.

Ted Sillanpaa, Eureka CA Times-Standard: Ted’s writes about sports because of his sincere interest in improving the enjoyment of sports for all people in Humboldt County and now Solano Conty. When his sons were in the development stages of baseball, like many parents, he spent time coaching them. But, with one difference. He also devoted time to improving his knowledge of the game to assist others.