Ed Sanclemente, a beloved local baseball coach who helped his UC Berkeley team beat a George H.W. Bush-led Yale club in the first College World Series, died Jan. 29, according to a death notice Sunday.
Sanclemente, a La Mesa resident, died in his sleep from natural causes, the notice said. He was 92.
As a youth, he “shagged balls for Ted Williams at University Heights playground and played on San Diego’s 1941 national championship American Legion team,” said The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Sanclemente coached baseball at San Diego City and Mesa colleges for more than three decades, prepared hundreds of players for four-year collegiate and professional careers, the notice said.
“I knew him since I was 10 years old,” said Bob Cluck, who played for Sanclemente at City College. “I met him as his paper boy. But he became like a surrogate father to me. He was a mentor. Two decades after Ed, I went to the same elementary, junior high and high school. He was like the biggest guy in North Park.”
Tom Whelan was quoted as saying: “Playing for Ed at San Diego City College was the best time I ever had in baseball. He drove his players; he took care of his players. He was a man of detail who taught you how important it was to tend to all the details in your life.”
A tribute posted on partletonsports.com noted his tennis skills, saying he “made a name for himself on the tennis courts at University Heights and throughout the city before he turned his attention to baseball.”
Newspaper accounts from as far back as 1933 reported that “72-pound Edward San Clemente won the first of a series of tennis tournaments for children of grammar school age.”
Tournament coordinator Wilbur Folsom said of Sanclemente’s 6-4, 10-12, 6-4 victory over Dick Brink in the finals of the event at University Heights followed a “three-hour struggle that saw several rallies for crucial points last as long as five minutes.”
Up to the last weeks of his life, Sanclemente regularly visited with former players and friends every at 7 a.m. Thursdays at DZ Akins, the notice said.
Louis Edward Sanclemente was born Jan. 8, 1924, at Sisters of Mercy Hospital (now Scripps Mercy Hospital) in San Diego to Micaela and Francisco V. Sanclemente — from northern Spain and members of a small group of Basque Spaniards living in San Diego County, the notice said.
Sanclemente attended Jefferson Elementary in North Park and Roosevelt Junior High before graduating from San Diego High in 1942, the notice said.
“At San Diego High, he starred in baseball and tennis and also played basketball. Years later, he was honored as one of the Athletes of the Century at San Diego High,” the U-T notice said.
Sanclemente was starting third baseman on the 1947 California team that won the first College World Series. Sanclemente hit .369 during the regular season and was 4-for-10 and drove in four runs in Cal’s College World Series sweep of a Yale team that featured future President George H.W. Bush.
After Cal, Sanclemente played two seasons of pro baseball in Spokane, Wash., before teaching at South San Francisco High while doubling as the Athletic Director at the Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco, the notice said.
He taught at La Jolla High and later became assistant baseball coach at what was then called San Diego Junior College, the notice said, becoming head coach in the lat 1950s.
At City College, Sanclemente won several titles in the Metropolitan Conference, regarded as the strongest junior college conference in the United States.
“After winning the 1964 Metropolitan Conference title with a doubleheader sweep on the final day of the season, Sanclemente became the first baseball coach at San Diego Mesa College, where he won more titles until retiring in 1989,” the notice said.
Revered for running a “tight ship,” Sanclemente was a stickler for players being on time and wearing their uniforms properly.
His obituary said he once benched a player for having the wrong pants and another time left a player in Brawley because he was late for the bus.
“If you wanted to play for Ed, you followed his rules,” Whelan said. “But you learned the game and so much more while playing for Ed. He put you on the right path for life. And although he was tough, he made it fun. Anyone who ever played for Ed loved the man.”
A funral Mass for Sanclemente is set for 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, at the Chapel at Holy Cross Cemetery, 4470 Hilltop Drive, San Diego.