Delzell had coached Hoover for 15 seasons until stepping down after the 2008 campaign. He had also coached as an assistant three prior years in the program and was an assistant football coach. Despite leaving his baseball post, he had remained at Hoover as a physical education teacher.
“All the students loved him,” said Hoover Athletic Director Jack Van Patten, a longtime colleague and friend of Delzell’s. “He could always tell good stories.
“I’ve known him for a long time, after a certain point, you lose count of the years. ...He was a friend.”
Van Patten added that grief counseling for students will be available at Hoover when school resumes today.
Although the Hoover’s baseball team has resumed Pacific League play, likely the Tornadoes have done so with heavy hearts. Many of the current baseball players were coached by Delzell and his son Tyler, a junior, is on the team.
Delzell’s close relationships and ability to identify with his players were a hallmark of his coaching tenure.
“He was like a second father for all of us,” Jemjemian said.
One of the many players Delzell coached was Tito Cruz, his successor as the current Tornadoes coach.
“It’s just crazy, [especially] after just seeing him [Friday],” said Cruz, who played for two seasons at Hoover before moving on to Long Beach State and eventually returning for a season to assist Delzell before being hired as the head coach last summer. “Delzell made [playing baseball at Hoover] a lot of fun.
“I think the kids made him feel young at heart.
“It was easy for him to relate with the kids.”