Legendary Mt. SAC baseball coach Art Mazmanian, who also won an NCAA title as a player at USC, has died
Legenary Mt. San Antonio College baseball coach Art Mazmanian, who won an NCAA title as a player at USC and coached many years in the minor leagues and also was part of the coaching staff for Team USA during the 1984 Olympics, died on Friday in San Dimas.
He was 91.
During his playing days Mazmanian was an All-American second baseman on the USC Trojans’ 1948 national championship team, and was the Trojans’ first four-year letterman since 1915.
In the 1948 College World Series championship series against Yale, which featured first baseman George H.W. Bush, who later went on to become President at the United States, Mazmanian hit .545 in the CWS as it went on to win the school’s first national title.
In 1949, Mazmanian was drafted by the New York Yankees and signed for $4,000. That same year, the Yankees signed Mickey Mantle for $1,100.
Jim McConnell, who wrote a “Then and Now” column for this publication, described it as only he could during a 2011 article.
“Mantle went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Mazmanian has gone on to have a Hall of Fame life,” McConnell wrote.
Indeed he did.
Mazmanian, who graduated at Dorsey High in Los Angeles and was a coach there, was the baseball coach at Mt. SAC for 31 years from 1968-98, where his teams won 709 games and only had two losing seasons.
More than 120 of his players played professionally, including players that went on to play in Major League Baseball such as Doug Bird, Ron Roenicke, Rob Nelson, Brett Tomko and Terry Clark.
“He was one of the most beloved people on the planet,” said Debbie Cavion, associate athletics director at Mt. SAC, who had coached soccer on a field adjacent to Mazmanian. “He was a beautiful soul who only had kind things to say. People from all over the country knew him and loved him.”
Mazmanian, who practically every year would coach for Mt. SAC and then coach a short-season in Major League baseball’s minor leagues, took a leave of absence while with the Baltimore Orioles organization in 1984 so he could serve as an assistant coach for the United States Olympic baseball team that competed in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Even though Mazmanian retired from Mt. SAC in 1999 when his wife Shirley was ill, he returned to coaching at South Hills High for five years and helped the Huskies win a CIF-SS divisional title in 2009. He finished his coaching career as an assistant coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in 2016 when he was 88.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Mazmanian,” said Mt. SAC President Bill Scroggins. “Coach Maz was an inspirational leader on and off the field. He was dedicated to Mt. SAC and the craft of baseball, but most of all, he was passionate about his students. People of all ages learned a great deal about baseball and life from this incredible man. On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire Mt. SAC family, we extend our condolences.”
Maz, as we was known, spent six years playing in the minor leagues from 1949-54 and was mostly in the New York Yankees’ farm system, including 2 1/2 years with the Triple-A Kansas City Blues of the American Association, but he never made it to the big leagues.
While he was coaching at Mt. SAC, Mazmanian also was coaching in the minor leagues, a career that spanned from, 1949-87.
During the 1960s, Mazmanian scouted for the Oakland Athletics and the Cleveland Indians. He started coaching again in 1971 and had his best success later in the decade with the Yankees organization as manager of their short season Class-A New York–Penn League affiliate, the Oneonta Yankees.
He guided the O-Yankees to five straight division championships (1977–81) and four playoff championships (1977; 1979–81).
He compiled a minor league managing record of 663-487.
He is survived by his son, Stephen, and daughter, Nancy (who served in baseball public relations roles at USC and with the Anaheim Angels). He was predeceased by his wife, Shirley.
Services are pending, with information expected early next week. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Art Mazmanian Memorial Fund, Mt. SAC Foundation, 1100 No. Grand Ave., Walnut, Calif. 91789.