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Muckey Finds a Place to Call Home as Crespi Baseball Coach

March 20, 1987|DAVID MORGAN | Times Staff Writer

Twelve years as a college baseball coach taught Scott Muckey that a job is a job.

If you can get one.

Finding a coaching position never has been a problem for Muckey, who spent seven years as an assistant at Pepperdine and five years at Valley College, the past four as head coach of the Monarchs.

But none of those positions was full time, making it necessary for Muckey, 34, to work as a lifeguard, among other things, to supplement his income.

Until now. Muckey is a month into his first season as baseball coach at Crespi High, and with a full-time job in hand, he couldn't be happier.

"Now I don't wake up in the morning wondering what I'm going to do for a job," he said.

It is surprising, however, that Muckey found what he was looking for at Crespi. For the past four years, coaching baseball at Crespi has been a part-time endeavor, which goes a long way toward explaining why Muckey is the sixth man to hold the job in the past 10 years.

Muckey was not interested when first contacted about the job by Crespi Athletic Director Paul Muff last summer. At the time, it was still a part-time position.

When Crespi football Coach Bill Redell vacated his teaching position to become director of fund raising for the athletic department at Cal Lutheran, Muff packaged a full-time teaching position in physical education with an offer to coach baseball. Muckey answered promptly.

"It took me about two minutes to say yes," he said.

Heading into Crespi's Del Rey League opening game today against St. John Bosco, Muckey still is adjusting to high school baseball. The Celts, however, have taken the transition in stride, winning five straight games after a season-opening loss.

"We're a lot farther along right now than I thought we'd be," Muckey said. "One thing I have to find out is how much our kids need to know to be successful at the high school level.

"In college, you have the fall season and you can work out every day for as long as you want, so you can put in strategy to include just about anything you want.

"Here, we don't have nearly that much time. For the first month and a half, we could only work out during the PE period. I found that very challenging to try and squeeze everything that we needed to do into that time.

"This is almost like a college team runs its winter program. It might be April before I really know who our right guys are."

In the meantime, he's making all the right moves.

When Muckey says that baseball is his life, you might begin to wonder. Baseball hasn't exactly been good to him.

He had modest success as a player on the same team with Rob Piccolo at Westchester High before going to Los Angeles City College, where he batted .320 as a sophomore in 1972.

Muckey was reunited with Piccolo at Pepperdine in 1973 on a team that included last year's Cy Young Award winner Mike Scott. Muckey led the team with a .293 batting average, but it was his .974 fielding percentage as a second baseman that drew the most praise.

"Rob and Muck were as good as they came up the middle," said Pepperdine Athletic Director Wayne Wright, who was the baseball coach at the time. "When Mike Scott was out here to be inducted into our Hall of Fame, he said the best defensive infield he pitched for was the one here."

Piccolo and Scott went on to the major leagues, but Muckey stayed on at Pepperdine as a graduate assistant coach.

"I was a very average runner, a very average hitter and a pretty good fielder," Muckey said. "Those kind of guys are a dime a dozen. I suppose I could have played pro ball if I would have gone to all those tryout camps. I probably could have gotten my two years in, but I decided I might as well get on with it."

As a graduate assistant, Muckey earned a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's in sports medicine. More importantly, though, he was beginning his baseball education.

Muckey worked under Wright and his successor, Bob Zuber, for two years each before Dave Gorrie took over the Pepperdine program in 1979. That year, Pepperdine finished third at the College World Series.

After two more years at Pepperdine, Muckey joined Dave Snow at Valley in 1982, the year the Monarchs won the state community college championship.

"Between those four guys, I feel like I got a pretty good education," Muckey said. "All were good coaches."

Muckey succeeded Snow at Valley, and though he never duplicated a state championship, his teams were among the best in the state. They also happened to be in in the Mountain Valley Conference with College of the Canyons, which has won three of the past six state titles.

"We had some battles with Canyons and I wouldn't have had it any other way," Muckey said. "To be the best, you have to play the best."

Valley managed to win three of five games with Canyons in 1985, although the Cougars wound up as the conference champions and eventual runners-up in the state tournament.

Muckey and Mike Gillespie, who coached at Canyons before leaving for USC this season, gained a mutual respect from their rivalry.

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