Joe Hicks, who coached one of the nation’s top junior-college baseball programs and worked as an actor in the off-season, has died at age 64 after a four-year battle with cancer.
Hicks coached Long Beach City College to three state championships, seven Southern California titles and 13 conference titles from 1950 to 1975.
Between seasons, he took mostly small parts in movies, working with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, John Ford and Bill Cosby.
Hicks played baseball and basketball at Banning High and UCLA and pitched for two years in the St. Louis Browns organization.
At Long Beach, he built a baseball factory that led more than 100 players to professional contracts. Twelve of his players, including Greg Harris, Jeff Robinson, Wayne Edwards, Dave Frost, Casey Cox, Rod Gaspar and Dave Marshall, reached the major leagues.
He was inducted into halls of fame by the Century Club, the American Baseball Coaches Association and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Assn.
Hicks died at home Monday afternoon with his wife Joyce and sons Jay and Tom at his side, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. The couple had five grandchildren.