The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
San Francisco 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari went from the trenches as a College of San Mateo All-Big 8 Conference lineman to the coaching ranks of the NFL.
Houston Astros pitcher Scott Feldman went from being the winningest pitcher in CSM history to a 10-year-and-counting major league career.
These are just two precursors to the stories of the 17 inductees composing the 2014-15 class to be enshrined in the CSM Athletics Hall of Fame. Since the CSM Hall’s inception in 2011-12, this year’s class marks the largest class ever inducted.
Along with Solari and Feldman, those who will be inducted at the Jan. 23 ceremony at the Bayview Dining Room on the CSM campus are: Milt Axt, Al Terremere, Perry Parmelee, Doug Scovil and Jerry Scattini (football); Daniel Nava and Bob McClure (baseball); Stella Edwinson-Orechia and Marcel Hetu (track-and-field); Bob Peterson (basketball); Bea Godoy-Chavez (softball and basketball); Randy Gomez (baseball and football); Julio Bortolazzo (former CSM president); Caroline Silva (former CSM athletic academic advisor); and Ron Galatolo (chancellor of the San Mateo County Community College District).
“It was a great experience and a great stepping-stool to come [to CSM] and being able to get a scholarship … which gave me something I could continue my love for the game,” Solari said.
From CSM to Super Bowl champion
A graduate of El Camino, Solari attended CSM for two years, starting as a defensive tackle in 1973 before transitioning to offensive tackle in ’74 for CSM Hall of Fame head coach Steve Shafer. He transferred on scholarship to San Diego State before embarking on a coaching career spanning from 1977 to the present.
He coached at virtually every level along the way, starting at Mission Bay High School in 1977. He quickly rose through the college ranks from MiraCosta Junior College to Boise State before taking university posts under head coach Mike Gottfried at Cincinnati, Kansas and Pittsburg.
In 1987, Solari accepted his first assignment as an NFL coach with the Dallas Cowboys under Hall of Fame head coach Tom Landry. It was during that stint legendary 49ers head coach Bill Walsh — posthumously inducted into the CSM Hall of Fame with the inaugural class of 2011-12 — retired following the 1988 season after 10 years and three Super Bowl titles in San Francisco.
Little did Solari know that Walsh’s retirement would put in motion his eventual path back home to the Bay Area to coach the 49ers team he grew up rooting for.
Three years after longtime 49ers assistant coach George Siefert was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach in 1989, Solari joined the staff as a tight ends coach in 1992 and served for five years during the height of the Brent Jones era in San Francisco, including the 49ers’ last Super Bowl championship in ’95.
“Probably one of the more underrated coaches in the NFL,” Solari said of Siefert. “There were so many years of success. You had many years of Bill Walsh team after Bill Walsh team. … After a great coach, that’s the hardest to bridge that gap.”
After spanning over a decade between assistant coaching posts with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks, Solari returned to the 49ers in 2010.
Feldman realizes unlikely dream
As a high school player at Burlingame, Scott Feldman had no ambitions of ever playing professional baseball.
“When I got into high school, I just played baseball because I thought it was fun,” Feldman said. “I was never thinking of making any sort of living out of it.”
After one semester at CSM though, that all changed.
“If I didn’t go to CSM, what would I be doing right now? I guarantee you I wouldn’t be playing professional baseball,” Feldman said. “It’s what took my career to what it is now.”
After a rigorous fall-ball schedule in 2002, Feldman debuted as a freshman in ’03 with a 12-0 record. As a sophomore, he won his first 13 decisions to tab a remarkable streak of 25 consecutive wins without a loss. He finished his CSM career with a 25-1 overall record, the best ever in Bulldogs history. Later that year, he was drafted by the Texas Rangers.
So, since making his major league debut in 2005, what stands as one of the right-handed pitcher’s greatest big league memories?
Hitting, of course.
When with the Cubs in 2013 — his first foray into the National League — he went deep off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo at Great American Ball Park.
“That was probably the biggest thrill I’ve had was rounding the bases after hitting a home run in the major leagues,” Feldman said. “It’s something I’d always wanted to do and I’d always been in the American League. … I was having a hard time not grinning ear-to-ear running around the bases.”
Calling it a “thrill” is appropriate, being as Feldman grew up idolizing San Francisco Giants great Will “The Thrill” Clark. Feldman said he used to emulate Clark’s signature swing. More so, despite establishing a successful career as a multi-million dollar arm, he still envies everyday players.
“Pitching is fun WHILE you’re pitching,” Feldman said. “But I go crazy in between games now. You don’t get to do anything but watch the game. Hitting is one of those things you get to do it every day. So, I’ve always been a little envious of the position players to get the opportunity to play every day.”
The last time Feldman got to play every day was as a sophomore at CSM. While he was en route to becoming a Bulldogs’ legend on the mound, he put on quite a show as the team’s regular designated hitter, ranking fourth on the team with a .351 batting average while enjoying three round trippers.