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Legendary Pepperdine baseball coach John Scolinos received college baseball’s highest honor on Aug. 27, as he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Scolinos won 263 games in 15 seasons as the Waves' skipper between 1946-60 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 1950s 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 sixth-highest of any NCAA Division II coach in history. He was also just the third coach in college baseball history to notch 1,000 career wins, following Jack Coffey and Dedeaux. That list now has more than 60 coaches.
A three-time NCAA Division II Coach of the Year and College 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.
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 Aircraft 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 passed away in 2009 at the age of 91. In order to honor his legacy and character, the Pepperdine baseball team has awarded the John Scolinos Award each year since 2005. The award is given to a Pepperdine baseball alumnus for his exemplary behavior during a season or career. The recipient is honored for demonstrating strong character traits, including humility, resourcefulness, loyalty, honesty, work ethic, Christian behavior and sportsmanship.
Scolinos is one of 12 inductees, and one of two coaches, to be enshrined this year. The other coach is former University of Miami and Georgia Tech skipper Jim Morris. Nine former players also were inducted, including Georgia Tech’s Jason Varitek, Minnesota’s Paul Molitor, Seton Hall’s Rick Cerone, Texas’ Jim Gideon, Southern University’s Pete Barnes, Arizona State’s Gary Gentry, Tuskegee’s Roy Lee Jackson, Panola and Texas Tech’s Doug Ault and Montclair State’s John Deutsch.
The College Baseball Foundation and National College Baseball Hall of Fame, based in Lubbock, Texas, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and preserving the history of college baseball. In addition to the annual induction of the Hall of Fame class, the organization presents numerous awards to current college baseball players, coaches and umpires during its annual Night of Champions event. The organization was founded in 2004 and the first Hall of Fame class was inducted in 2006.
— Ricky Davis