1933 – 2018
Phil Pote, known to many as “Coach,” was born on the East Coast in 1933 to Houston and Oyma Pote. When he was 10 yrs old, his family came to LA. Mr. Ed Camp, director of 10th St playground, changed Phil’s life by making it safe for him to play outside and giving him tools for life. He had always been “the outsider” in grade school because his family had moved so frequently that he never got in the groove with the other kids. In LA, he lived in an area that was known as being “mean” and yet Phil loved to be outdoors ~ the playground became his haven.
Phil always wanted to be a pro baseball player, and was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made the tough decision not to go because of his commitment to keep Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Instead, he became a coach at Fremont High School and decided to accept any young man on the team that wanted to play ball who was also willing to keep up classwork. In 1963 he coached the team known as “The Pathfinders;” their mantra was W.U.T. (We, Us, Team) They turned out to be an amazing team who changed the world for the guys, for Phil, and for baseball. This was only 10 years after Jackie Robinson; the Pathfinders were the first and only all-minority team to win the LA City Championship. On that team were 3 players who got contracts for the Major League – Willie Crawford, Bobby Tolan and Bob Watson.
In 1977, Coach joined the LA City College for 12 years. He scouted for the Oakland A’s, the LA Dodgers, and the Seattle Mariners, securing contracts for over 50 players. His commitment was to Inner City youth, baseball, and creating equity for all, including scouts. He saw baseball as a way to attract kids to get an education (he had hated school because it had not been pleasant to be “the outsider”) and he cared more about young people becoming good people than having fame or wealth. In fact, he was sometimes dubbed “The Parson” because of his values. He was kind, offered respect and encouragement and opportunity, had vision and courage, and was always consistent.
Anyone touched by Phil’s life who would like to further the work of making baseball accessible to kids, can make a donation or contact Urban Youth Academy at 310-763-3479. His family knew little of his life in baseball but we have been moved by the many who have continued to reach out to him even 2 years after he had a major stroke ~ we have learned that Phil was unusual, and that YOU are unusual. We would love to hear from you if you knew him or were inspired by him. WAYNpote@att.net
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375 Ernest "chief" Calvary saysAugust 25, 2018 at 5:04 pm
I played at Fremont high during those amazing years.
Many of my friends played for coach Pote because he was fair and knew how to play baseball. I played football and was on the track team (shot put). I was around coach a lot. I saw how he cared for all the players, who played other sports at the school. My jr. year I hurt my shoulder practicing on the school field, as I laid there on the ground thinking my playing days were over. Coach Pote came running over and looked down and said “Chief” do worry I will see the school pays for your medical treatment. I remember some of the things he though me, team play. respect yourself and others, be humble in defeat, stay positive, never give up on yourself. During my high school days, I felt he was a like a father to me and many other kids who new him. Today I am 74 years young and remembered Coach Pote friendship and caring throughout my life. I believe L will see Coach Pote in haven there we will talk about many things and baseball. #75 “Chief” Ernest w. Calvary
retired Police officer and District Att. Investigator. Santa Calerita, Ca. 661 904 9589
Daniel Russell saysAugust 24, 2018 at 6:49 pm
Phil was an amazing man. I first met him when I was a JV Coach at Fremont a little under ten years ago and he showed up randomly at one of our games on the road at West Adams to root on the young Pathfinders. He shared a little history and more importantly some of his tremendous wisdom with the boys. I developed a dear friendship with Coach Pote and he became a mentor for me. We met several Sundays at Coach Pote Field in LA where he told me stories about the game and revealed to me the depth of his character and his relationship with God and the game of baseball. With each meeting my respect and admiration for the man grew and I missed him dearly when he moved North and we lost contact during his final years. I am confident that he sits among Saints and Angels now as he lived with an undying love that will ensure that his legacy endures as we men that were taught by him continue to carry out the reflection of his glory. Much love to Phil and all of his family.
Robert Thompson saysAugust 23, 2018 at 4:01 pm
RIP Coach Pote
R Thompson ,Fremont alum.
Jim Holden saysAugust 22, 2018 at 7:51 pm
Without Phil, I would have never have gotten my start in baseball scouting! He was the one who gave me a chance! His guidance and friendship, started me on a journey of 26 years in professional baseball, culminating with being a scouting supervisor for the Montreal Expos! I can’t begin to express my sadness over the passing of Phil! He was an outstanding mentor, but more important, he was a great friend! The baseball world is certainly grieving now, but his presence as a coach, scout and teacher, is something that professional baseball, high school baseball and college baseball, can be thankful for! We will miss you Phil! You were the definition of “professionalism!” There are thousands of kids out there, who would not be where they are without you! My thoughts and prayers go out to the family! He was a great guy! God must have needed a man who could identify talent? Our loss, is Heaven’s gain! Sleep well my friend, and thanks again for everything! You will never know what a positive impression you made on me, and so many others! RIP! Jim Holden
Ann Gallagher saysAugust 22, 2018 at 6:13 pm
To the Family of Phillip Pote
From the Los Angeles City College
We of the LACC Emeriti Family
extend to you and your family
our deepest sympathies for your loss.
Our thoughts are with you.
Larry & Bev Johnson saysAugust 22, 2018 at 12:56 am
So very sorry for the losses you have to experience. Each of your family has been a blessing to the neighborhoods they have been connected with. It is hard to lose persons that are loved. Gods Blessing to you each and every one. Heavens reunion will by such a great Joy.
Beverly Wetherbee saysAugust 21, 2018 at 3:18 am
To the four of you his nieces and your dad , uncle Wayne , his brother . My condolences . Life is fragile, I believe your uncle lived it well.
I pray Gods peace for each of you as you pickup the memories and rejoice that they are good ones. Beverly Wetherbee .
Barbara Holm saysAugust 21, 2018 at 1:39 am
Always known to me as Uncle Phil, my mom’s younger brother who lived his Christian beliefs in real life. As an adult I have learned even more about my uncle and how he cared deeply about making a difference in the lives of his students and those he coached. Fremont High School is where he first taught and coached baseball in the inner city of Los Angeles. He believed baseball could be a vehicle for keeping kids out of trouble and where they could learn valuable life skills and subsequently stay in school and get an education. An acronym WUT stood for We Us Team Always showed how he valued the importance of the individual player that made the team…everyone got to play! He believed in urban youth and worked hard to get a task force started. In 1963 his baseball team competed and won the LA City Championship for the first time ever! He also scouted for the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners over the years. He even had small parts as a scout in the movies, The Scout and MoneyballI. I believe he thought nothing was impossible…. I will miss him along with many others whose lives he touched.
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