Dec. 12, 2006
BERKELEY - Bob DiGrazia, California men's soccer's all-time winningest head coach and the Golden Bears' first All-American player, passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon in Walnut Creek, Calif., with his family at his side. DiGrazia, who had suffered from Parkinson's disease, was 79.
"Cal soccer has lost one of the all-time greats today, and he was one of the all-time greats in much more than being a coach," Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. "He was a great husband, a great father and a great mentor to 28 years of Cal soccer players. When college soccer talks about the all-time legendary coaches in the game, Bob DiGrazia will be right up there on the top of their list. This is a sad day for us all. We're really going to miss him."
In recent years, DiGrazia was the chair of the "Friends of Cal Soccer" booster organization. In 2004, the Bob DiGrazia Scholarship Fund was established to honor the Cal soccer icon.
Cal's longest-tenured soccer head coach, he compiled a 202-133-39 record over 29 years that spanned 1952-80. DiGrazia led Cal to its first two NCAA tournament appearances, in 1960 and 1977. He was named the 1977 Far West Region Coach of the Year, and, in 1983, he earned the 43rd annual Honor Award from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
An assistant athletic director at Cal for six years after his coaching career ended, DiGrazia was inducted into the Cal Hall of Fame in 1991. He also served as the Executive Secretary of the Big C Society for several years and as the Executive Secretary of the NSCAA for 12 years.
Fifteen Bears collected a total of 19 All-American honors under DiGrazia, with former greats Dan Salvemini (an All-American in 1976, '77 and '78), Pablo Dibos Perez (1957 and '58) and Tim Tarpley (1964 and '65) collecting multiple awards.
A San Francisco native, DiGrazia lettered in soccer and track at Balboa High School in the City. An all-conference halfback for Cal in 1948, '49 and '50, he became the Bears' first All-American in 1950. He graduated from Cal with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1950 and became an assistant coach for the Bears in 1951.
DiGrazia continued his playing career after leaving Cal, trying out for the 1952 U.S. Olympic team and competing for the California state amateur championship team in 1953-54. He was selected to the San Francisco All-Star team that played professional clubs Glasgow Celtic (Scotland), Manchester United (England) and Grasshoppers (Switzerland).
"We used to play together when we were young, at the Olympic club in 1950," said former University of San Francisco coach Stephen Negoesco, another Bay Area coaching legend. "He was a good athlete. You can't bring those things back.
"He figured out how to upgrade the program at Cal until they were as competitive as UCLA and USF. He didn't quit trying to develop the game. Cal started recruiting well, which made it tough for me, because he got some of the kids we wanted. It was good competition, and we got along fine. I'm sorry to hear about his loss."
DiGrazia is survived by his sister Lorraine; his children Bob, Bill, Julie and Tom; his wife June and her children Jay and Julie; and eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The funeral service for DiGrazia is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Oakmont Memorial Park and Mortuary at 2099 Reliez Valley Road in Lafayette, Calif. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Bob DiGrazia Soccer Scholarship Fund, care of the Athletic Development Office, University of California, 195 Haas Pavilion, Berkeley, CA 94720.
For those wishing to offer their condolences, please visit www.legacy.com and type in "Robert DiGrazia" to access the online guest book and obituary.