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Los Angeles Times 1996 All-Valley Baseball Team | COACH
OF THE YEAR

Psaltis Used Plenty of Craftiness To Lead '12 Angry Men'

June 05, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK

Catchy phrases roll from the tongue of Spiro Psaltis like a screwball from the arm of a left-handed pitcher.

Make that "crafty left-hander."

"All left-handers are crafty," said Psaltis, 36, a former left-hander for Glendale High and USC. "There's no such thing as a crafty right-hander."

Then there's "Twelve Angry Men."

Psaltis, in his third season as Glendale coach, appropriated the title of the famed motion picture and applied to his 12-player roster like pine tar, repeatedly referring to his dozen Dynamiters as such.

Not only did the title stick, it became a clarion cry for Glendale, which charged to its first Pacific League championship since 1988.

"Some of them will play two or three positions," Psaltis said before the season. "We'll have to be healthy, lucky and wise."

The Dynamiters were that and more, rolling to a 19-4 overall record and 13-2 mark in league play, only a year after finishing third at 7-8.

All of Glendale's losses were by one run, including a 4-3 loss to Nogales in nine innings in the opening round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs.

For Psaltis, a walk-on who abruptly resigned after the season because of career concerns, going with only 12 players was necessity, not novelty.

But then, having served as an assistant at Glendale since 1987, the coach came to conclude that a dozen usually will do it.

"It was something I had thought of when I kept making out lineup sheets and I'd notice that I'd be using the same players over and over," Psaltis said. "You need depth just in case. It's a convenience."

Understandably, Psaltis was particularly fond of two of his 12--senior left-handers Bryan Chan and Phil Onsaga. Like the Glendale team, neither pitcher cut an opposing figure, both standing 5-foot-11 and weighing close to 170 pounds.

But under Psaltis' tutelage, Chan and Onsaga honed their off-speed pitches and posted quality numbers.

Call them crafty, Chan and Onsaga were called upon almost exclusively by Psaltis.

Fittingly, all three move on after a memorable season.

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