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Among the area’s notable amateur baseball coaches, Paul
Carmazzi’s path to legendary status may be the gnarliest.
Growing up in the shadow of older brother Dan, the football
star at Christian Brothers and UC Davis, Paul
Carmazzi almost didn’t make the Falcons varsity baseball team his senior season. And when
told he’d made the cut, head coach Ron Limeberger sheepishly admitted he didn’t have any more
uniforms. Eventually, he found Paul an old wool jersey that probably had seen better days when
Christian Brothers was located at 21st and Broadway.
“I wasn’t a very good baseball player,” Carmazzi admits. “I
just worked really hard at it.”
When he graduated spring 1974, he couldn’t have dreamed that 10
years later he would lead Sacramento City College to the state title game.
Or that a few years later, he would field frequent late night
calls from one of his former pupils, a major leaguer who needed the calming reassurance of his
former coach, ‘Maz.
The summer following his senior season at CBS, Carmazzi was
still debating whether to attend Sacramento State or Sac City. Fellow Falcon teammate Chris
Gandy suggested Carmazzi join him at SCC and try out for the baseball team, which had
a new head coach from Southern California: Jerry
Paul Carmazzi is a long-time administrator in the
Athletic Department at Sacramento City College.
He did, but developed mononucleosis around the holidays and had
to redshirt. That first season Carmazzi hung out with the team and kept score on the bench. Two
years later in his sophomore season he fell and fractured a bone in his hand, and eventually earned
just one at-bat in the final series against Modesto (he singled and kidded teammates that he led
the team in batting with a 1.000 average).
When Carmazzi transferred to Sac State in fall 1977, the school
was struggling to find a permanent replacement for long-time head coach Cal Boyes. When the Hornets
hired Barry Woodhead, it was their third head coach in three years. Weinstein encouraged Carmazzi
to try out for the team, thinking he had a shot with a new coach.
During the Hornets’ fall practice, Paul hurt himself once
again, ending any hope of continuing his college playing career. But Woodhead invited him to be an
assistant coach on the 1978 team. Sac State then played in the Division II Far West Conference, but
scheduled top caliber non-conference teams such as Cal and other Pac-10 schools. In Carmazzi’s
first coaching experience, the Hornets finished 15-31-2, Woodhead was relieved and John
Smith took over, beginning a 32-year period of stability.
But there was a silver lining to this gray cloud: Weinstein
invited Carmazzi to join him as one of his two assistants at Sac City for the 1979
Sacramento City College fielded its first baseball team in 1923
and had been the big dog in town for decades. But since the Del Bandy-led years (1962-1970) the
program had been in decline. One of the first things Weinstein did was to move his program’s
playing field to the SCC campus.
For decades, the Panthers played their home games at William
Land Park Diamond #1 (changed to “Doc Oliver Field” in March 1979), long considered the city’s
premier recreational ball diamond. The Panthers home diamond was located on its present site, but
the rustic backstop sans dugouts was a far cry from the amenity-filled facility the team currently
In the early 1980s, under Weinstein’s tutelage the Panthers
began attracting and developing many of the Valley’s top players. According to Carmazzi, the
Panthers were incredibly deep in talent, stacked with reserve players that could have started at
most other Northern California community colleges.
Some of the notable players from this period who went on to
major league careers were Rich Rodas (1979) and
R.J. Reynolds (1980) of the Los Angeles Dodgers;
Chris Bosio (1982) and LeVal Freeman (1983) and Greg Vaughn (1984-85) of the Milwaukee Brewers; along with
Jeff Blauser (1984, Atlanta
During this period, Carmazzi scouted part time for San Diego
Padres, Kansas City Royals and California Angels, while also giving private and group hitting and
Weinstein—a budding baseball genius—imported the Southern
California ethos of baseball, complete with strategies, mechanics and skills that helped transform
the college on Freeport Blvd. into a bonafide baseball academy. “Jerry was a pioneer of new ways of
doing things in baseball (in the Sacramento area),” Carmazzi explains. “I watched and
Consequently Carmazzi went into a steep learning curve, becoming a noted hitting instructor.
Blauser, who won a World Series ring with the Braves in 1995, called Carmazzi “the man who
taught me to hit.”
The one area that set Sac City apart from the rest, Carmazzi
says, was the development of video analysis. Jerry and Paul began by videotaping major league stars
of that period. After assessing each batter’s approach to hitting, they formulated the common
traits found in each successful hitter and then constructed a batting manual for their
Additionally, they began videotaping the Sac City players. By
showing the Panther batters what they were doing, especially in comparison to the pros’ correct
method of hitting, Sac City hitters began the transformation from mediocrity to
That philosophy had a similar affect on the pitching
Although he became known for his hitting instruction, it was
Carmazzi’s reputation as a pitching coach that landed him a chance to coach his own team and form a
bond with future major leaguer,
In 1982, Sacramento-native Manuel
Perry Jr. was burning out as a full-time youth league coach from his time at
Land Park Colt League, Post 61 Legion and eventually Kennedy Legion. In 1981, Perry had led Kennedy
Legion to the state title and earned a spot in the eight-team Legion World Series. Perry
consulted with Weinstein about a possible future replacement, one who could also serve as the
pitching coach in Perry’s transition year (He eventually went on to American Legion administrative
positions, from District and Area Commissioner to State Chairman). Weinstein suggested his young
In 1982 Perry retained the manager role at Kennedy Legion, and
brought Carmazzi in as an assistant. ‘He really worked well with pitchers,” Perry recalls. “I
thought he would do an outstanding job in that role. And he did a helluva
That summer Carmazzi met Greg Vaughn, better known at the time
as a powerful and speedy running back for Kennedy High. Over their two summers together in Legion
they became friends as Vaughn found someone he could relate to. He was “like a big brother I never
had, a foster dad,” Vaughn told BaseballSacramento.com.
Following his senior summer, Vaughn had a scholarship offer to
play football at Washington. At a crossroads, he asked Carmazzi for advice: take the football ride
or play baseball at SCC? Carmazzi honestly conceded that Vaughn was more talented in football, but
encouraged him to follow his heart. And maybe “try both (sports).”
Vaughn, however, took it as a challenge. “I did not like people
telling me what I could and could not do,” he remembers with a chuckle. With a nod to reverse
psychology, Carmazzi had dispensed sage advice, while succeeding in recruiting Vaughn to the
Panthers baseball program.
In Spring 1984, Weinstein was granted a leave of absence to
take an assistant job at University of Miami, which had won College World Series titles in 1982 and
1985. During his time under head coach Ron Frazier, Weinstein witnessed first-hand the burgeoning
baseball programs in the southeast. More importantly, that one-year experience expanded his
collegiate contacts exponentially, dramatically expanding opportunities for SCC athletes to play
for prominent four-year programs in the south.
With Weinstein gone, Carmazzi was left in charge. One of the
first things he did was to inform Vaughn he should probably redshirt, explaining “I don’t know if
Vaughn rejected that idea, but realized that if he wanted to
make the team, he would have to work much harder. “Me and 'Maz would stay late, every single
day,” Vaughn recalls, admitting he was a football player trying to compete at the sport of
“He had a real bad hitch in his swing but he could get away
with it because he was so gifted,” Carmazzi remembers of a young Vaughn. “He couldn’t throw at all;
he had a bad arm. But he could run and he was super, super strong.”
With Weinstein in Miami, Carmazzi led Sac City to a Camino Norte Conference championship and a
runner-up finish in the state finals with an overall mark of 33-9.
In recognition of his efforts that season, he was honored as the Northern California Junior College
Baseball Coach of the Year and named to the Sacramento Hall of Fame.
During this period, he also managed Kennedy Legion program.
After a solid sophomore season at Sac City, Vaughn passed up
his fourth opportunity to go pro (when the MLB draft had supplemental June and January rounds) and
instead accepted a full ride to University of Miami, no doubt benefitting from Weinstein’s new
“My Sac City team could have beaten them (Hurricanes),” Vaughn says with a laugh. At Miami, Vaughn
was still considered “a speed guy,” serving as a lead-off hitter. In 1986 he stole 43 bases and
drove in 53 runs for the Hurricanes. He was drafted by
in the first round
(4th) of the 1986 MLB June Draft-Secondary Phase,
achieving his dream of playing pro ball.*
Paul Carmazzi (center) surrounded by former Panthers
F.P. Santangelo (left) and Fernando Vina.
Weinstein returned from his Miami sabbatical and with Carmazzi
as his co-head coach, the Panthers program zoomed to a higher gear. From 1987-89, the Panthers
played for the California state title. The ’87 squad, Carmazzi remembers, “was a really good team.”
Led by recently-inducted SCC Hall of Famer pitcher Clyde
Keller, Sac City lost to Cerritos College, which was coached by a young George Horton, who
later won a College World Series at Fullerton State and now coaches at
The following season “We’re talking Bad News Bears,” Carmazzi laughs. “We were not very gifted. But
we had some super-competitive guys, led by F.P.
Santangelo.” In the state finals they came from the loser’s bracket to face powerful Rancho
Santiago (now Santa Ana), which had earlier defeated Sac City 15-5 and were undefeated. The
Panthers beat them in the first game, forcing a rematch. Santangelo tripled twice in the game,
which was won on a Rob Reboin triple and the Panthers captured their first state title since
“That was special because that team wasn’t expected to do
anything,” Carmazzi says. They defeated head coach Don Sneddon, who recently overtook Weinstein as
the winningest community college coach in California baseball history.
In 1989 they again faced Cerritos and lost, but in the process
Weinstein and Carmazzi had certified the Panthers program as one of the state’s
Two of Carmazzi’s proudest achievements during his tenure at
Sac City have stood the test of time.
In the early 1980s, Weinstein asked Carmazzi to develop a
first-ever baseball camp. “Back then no one ran camps (in any sports),” he says in reflection.
Shooting from the hip that first year in 1983 they hoped for 50 and got 190 campers to show up.
“Our emphasis has always been on the kids having fun and learning,” Carmazzi says. An estimated
30,000 youngsters have come through their camps. The funds have helped offset the Panthers’
The other project involved building a new ballpark on campus, a
dream ever since Weinstein returned from Miami. Together he and Carmazzi successfully recruited
Sacramento Building and Trades union to donate materials and labor in constructing the 1,500 seat
ballpark, aptly named Union Stadium. It opened in 1988 and lights were added in 1999, giving Sac
City the finest baseball park at the time in the Sacramento Valley. In addition to being the
Panther’s home park, it has served as the site of the community college playoffs, high school
contests, and for one summer hosted the independent professional team, Sacramento
In 1991, Carmazzi took a more active role in the administration
at Sac City, first becoming a department chairman, then later Assistant Director of Men’s Athletics
under Dick Pierucci. When he retired, Carmazzi stepped into the men’s AD
Meantime, the Panthers continued to excel on the diamond,
finishing second in the state finals from 1991-1993. “It was getting old watching all these other
guys dogpile,” Carmazzi ruefully remembers.
In 1997, they began another three-year run in the state finals,
but this time they claimed two championships. After the 1998 squad won the state title with a 44-2
record, Baseball America rated Sacramento City College number one in the country. Going out on top,
Weinstein announced he was moving on to a professional position with the Los Angeles
As assistant head coach, Carmazzi was the obvious choice to
replace his mentor and long-time friend. However, since he already had a full-time administrator
position, and because the college funded only one paid position in baseball, Carmazzi agreed to
allow assistant Andy McKay to assume the head coaching reins, while staying
on as co-head coach.
They had plenty of talent coming back from the 1998 team, and
in that first season without Weinstein, Sac City continued to steamroll all
challengers, repeating as state champions. But since then first place finishes have been
less frequent, and in
2006, Carmazzi retired from his coaching duties, while taking
on an expanded role as assistant AD over men’s and women’s athletics. During
his 28-year career with the baseball program, Sac City participated in 19 state finals
played in 12
But he didn't leave baseball entirely. With the limited
time he had available, Carmazzi assisted Rich Henning in developing the
baseball program at his alma mater, Christian Brothers High. There he had the opportunity to run
the offense and coach his son, Paul Junior.
In 2010, Carmazzi culminated his coaching career with selection
to the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is one of only
four to be chosen from the Sacramento area. Weinstein (2001), American River College's Kevin
Higgins (2006) and Gary Engelken of Yuba College (1996) are the other three local coaches who
Developments late this summer, however, called Carmazzi back to
Union Stadium when Panthers Head Coach Andy
McKay announced he would be taking a one-year leave of absence to serve as Mental Skills
Director with the Colorado Rockies. Panthers assistant Derek Sullivan has been tabbed interim head coach while
McKay is off and Carmazzi consented to return to the diamond to provide leadership and program
Something he's been doing since his undergrad days in the late
Vaughn would go on to have the longest MLB career of anyone from this City College era, 15 years in
the majors with five teams. He hit 50 home runs for San Diego in 1998 and became the second
Sacramentan to homer in a World Series that season when he hit two round-trippers in the first game
against the Yankees (Joe Marty of the 1938 Cubs was the