East County Sports

Hall of Fame coach Mickey D passes away

San Diego Stars owner/manager Mickey Deutschman

Mickey Deutschman, elected to two amateur baseball halls of fame, died on Wednesday at the age of 78

By Nick Pellegrino

SANTEE – Mickey Deutschman, a member of the National Semipro Baseball Hall of Fame and a former head baseball coach at West Hills High School, passed away earlier this week of congestive heart failure. Known to all simply as “Mickey D.,” the long-time area coach was 78.

Deutschman

Following a four-year stint with the U.S. Navy, Deutschman spent the vast majority of his adult life as a resident and business owner in Santee, operating Temperature Control and Santee Air for more than 40 years.

However, Mickey was best-known as a highly successful skipper at many levels of play. Included was his longtime stewardship as owner-manager of the San Diego Stars, a hugely successful semipro baseball club, and a recent four-year engagement turning around the West Hills varsity program.

“Mickey was always interested in baseball, so one day he contacted Ed Olson, the head coach at Grossmont College,” said Kelly Ritiyak, the Stars’ president and general manager. “So he got a job as an assistant coach and everything took off from there.”

Deutschman has long credited Olson, once a New York Yankees triple-A prospect who never made “The Show.”

“Mickey wanted to expand his baseball horizons,” added Ritiyak. “So he contacted a team that back then was called the Santee Stars.”

Deutschman explained how he got his foot in the door in an article posted by the now-defunct Daily Californian newspaper.

“I asked them what I needed to do to become an assistant coach,” he was quoting stating. “They said they needed $4,000 because they needed new uniforms.”

In the summer of 1984, Deutschman became the new owner and field manager, eventually guiding the club to a fifth-place finish at the NBC World Series. Included was a victory over the Hutchison (Kan.) Broncos, a club that featured future Major League Baseball standouts Barry Bonds, Pete Incaviglia, and Raphael Palmeiro.

“Mickey rejuvenated NBC Baseball in Southern California,” the association stated on its website on Thursday. “We lost a damn good baseball man.”

Mickey D following a third-place finish at the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan.

Deutschman also started the process to construct a private ballpark on the Barona Indian Reservation north of Lakeside.

“Mickey gave an excellent presentation before the tribal council, so we gave him four acres of land, but also told him to never ask us for any money,” said former Barona tribal chairman Clifford LaChappa. “That was back in 1995. The field kept expanding with real dugouts, stands for fans, and much more.”

The Stars spent a quarter-century on their home-built field at Barona before a new tribal council pulled the plug and told the Stars to vacate the field. But by then, Deutschman just completed his third season coaching the Wolf Pack, his neighborhood high school team.

“Mickey tried to become the head coach at West Hills for almost 20 years, but they kept rejecting him,” noted Ritiyak. “Then one day, we were totally surprised when the school called and asked if he still wanted to coach them.”

Jumping at the opportunity, Deutschman immediately turned around a talented, yet underachieving ballclub. In his first season, the Wolf Pack posted the school’s best winning percentage in school history, falling a game short in total single-season victories (because they played fewer contests).

Deutschman as a member of the Navy.

In Year three, West Hills also equaled a school record for most CIF playoff victories, advancing to the San Diego Section semifinals.

The Stars also made a turnaround at the same time.

After reaching the semifinals of the NBC World Series in Wichita, Kan., in the 1980s and ’90s, the program blossomed in the 2010s.

Deutschman’s 2018 ballclub reached the NBCWS quarterfinals.

A year later, the Stars advanced to the NBC national semifinals (the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Deutschman finished with more than 1,100 triumphs at the semipro level. He was inducted to the association’s Hall of Fame, located in Evansville, Ind.

He was part of the Class of 1984. LINK: http://www.eastcountysports.com/main/BaronaStars/2013starsbaseball.shtml

In his 35 years as Stars skipper, they qualified for NBCWS play 25 times (23 appearances).

Deutschman as manager of the San Diego Stars.

In addition, the Stars have also captured several international tournaments, and once defeated Team USA at the 1998 NBC World Series.

The ballclub also has defeated national teams from Taiwan, Canada, and Australia, and played against squads from Cuba (when they were ranked No. 1 in the world), China, Japan, and several other countries.

Deutschman has his name and likeness engraved on a shining square-foot piece of black marble and placed alongside with the other Hall of Fame inductees.

He will be inducted to the NBC Hall of Fame next summer, having been voted in as a unanimous selection by the hall’s committee on March 2, 2020.

He also scouted for the Atlanta Braves organization for many years.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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