Charlie Phillips opened his mail Monday and received some unwelcome news: He is no longer Southern California College’s baseball coach.
Phillips received a memo signed by SCC President Wayne Kraiss telling him of the decision. In part, the note said: “You should not anticipate receiving another contract.”
Phillips said Tuesday he was shocked. “I think I did everything I was supposed to do and all I got was a letter in the mail,” he said. “I would have appreciated a face-to-face meeting.”
Phillips leaves after six seasons and a 141-154-1 record, but he probably will be best remembered as the coach who signed pitcher Ila Borders. Last year, Borders became the first female to win a college baseball game.
After making the postseason in each of Phillips’ first four seasons at SCC, the Vanguards have missed the playoffs the last two years. They were 14-35 and finished last in the Golden State Athletic Conference this season.
The firing comes during a time of upheaval at SCC. Ron Prettyman, athletic director since 1983, last month took a similar job at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Terry Zeigler, trainer and assistant athletic director, is acting athletic director. But Kraiss said he made the decision.
Kraiss said Tuesday he and Phillips had some philosophical disagreements, among them a dispute whether coaches should badger umpires. Phillips said he was amazed Kraiss mentioned that issue.
“That’s baseball,” Phillips said. “You have to protect your players and gain their respect.”
Kraiss said Phillips had been inquiring for some time about whether his part-time, year-to-year contract would be renewed. Last year, the contract was signed in August.
The seeds of the firing were likely sown in March after Phillips was ejected from a game at Point Loma Nazarene.
The SCC athletic department has a strong commitment to sportsmanship, suspending for one game anyone who is ejected from two games in a season.
It was Phillips’ first--and only--ejection of the season, but Phillips said Kraiss called him to a meeting after receiving word that Phillips had been involved in a profanity-laced argument with the umpire.
Phillips said Kraiss was ready to fire him immediately.
Phillips said he told Kraiss the umpire was the only one using profanity and Pat Guillen, the college’s sports information director, supported Phillips’ account.
Afterward, Phillips believed his job was safe. “When I left that meeting, it was, ‘Keep your nose clean and you’ll be fine,’ ” he said.
Phillips said he was involved in no further incidents.
“We were good academically, good spiritually and we were very competitive,” Phillips said. “It hurts, but what are you going to do?”