Scott Muckey, one of the most influential high school baseball coaches in the San Fernando Valley during a 28-year run at Encino Crespi, has died, the school announced on Saturday morning. He was 63.
Muckey had his gallbladder removed several years ago because of cancer, his brother, Lee, said. He suffered a recurrence and had been under hospice care at his Westlake Village home since last month.
“He moved from fighting mode to acceptance mode,” his brother said earlier this week.
Born Sept. 27, 1952, in Los Angeles, Muckey was a standout baseball player at Westchester High and Pepperdine. He became an assistant coach at L.A. Valley College under Dave Snow and later Valley’s head coach. In 1987, he switched to coaching high school baseball, taking over the program at Crespi and turning the Celts into one of the most respected programs in the Southern Section.
Crespi won 11 league titles, two Southern Section titles and sent numerous players onto college and pro teams.
He was an expert tutor for pitchers and was known for helping persuade several pitchers who had not been successful to switch their delivery and become sidearmers.
Among his most accomplished proteges were pitcher Jeff Suppan, who played 17 years in the major leagues and was the National League Championship Series most valuable player in 2006, and Trevor Plouffe, the third baseman for the Minnesota Twins. Muckey had 502 career victories. But it was his influence on other coaches that left a lasting impression.
“Scott Muckey -- the way he went about things -- was something a lot of us high school coaches try to emulate,” Alemany Coach Randy Thompson said. “He always seemed in control. His teams played hard and didn’t talk trash. It was old-school baseball: hard work, respect yourself, respect your opponent, respect the game.”
Crespi’s neighborhood rival was Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, and no one had a warmer appreciation for Muckey than Knights Coach Tom Dill.
“Sports has changed and he’s my reminder what it’s supposed to be,” Dill said. “There’s no rivalry like Notre Dame and Crespi baseball, but what was different is we just played on the field. There was mutual respect. He was a purist and did it teaching fundamentals. I told the players don’t watch pregame. They always made errors and never did in games. I’m embellishing, but that was Crespi. The ball would bounce their way.”
Hart Coach Jim Ozella called Muckey “a master teacher and great human being.”
Muckey always tried to treat his players as if they were adults instead of teenagers, giving them responsibilities and challenging them to succeed. The way his players performed without yelling from teammates in the dugout during games helped influence other coaches in the Mission League to tone down their own players’ vocal ways.
Last season was his first not in a Crespi uniform since 1987. He’d go out and watch high school games and offer advice when asked.
At first, Muckey didn’t want to let anyone know about his declining health. Then he changed his mind and in his waning days longtime friends and former players visited him at his home to say goodbye.
“He was in peace,” his brother said.
Crespi had scheduled a "Scott Muckey Day" for next Friday to celebrate his life. It will still be held, along with a memorial service at 1 p.m. in the Crespi gym. He is survived by his brother, Lee.
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