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Cubs Mental Skills consultant Ken Ravizza dies

The professor at Cal-State Fullerton was a long-time mentor to Joe Maddon and a pioneer in sports psychology.

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Sports psychologist Ken Ravizza talks to Cubs players during spring training in March, 2016
TNS via Getty Images

Longtime Cal-State Fullerton professor and Cubs mental skills coordinator Ken Ravizza has died at age 70, six days after suffering a heart attack in California.

Ravizza was a professor of kinesiology at Cal-State Fullerton for over 40 years and taught a class on stress management and applied sports psychology. It was there that he caught the eye of Fullerton’s soon-to-be legendary baseball coach Augie Garrido, who first asked him if he could help the baseball team in 1979, which, not coincidentally, was the year the Titans won their first College World Series.

In 1984, CSUF won their second College World Series after Ravizza made a small toilet in the dugout for the players to “flush away” their negative thoughts, The next year, Ravizza was hired by the Angels to serve as a consultant where he met a young minor league manager named Joe Maddon. Maddon was impressed with Ravizza’s take on the mental side of the game and the two of them became close friends for the rest of his life. Much of Maddon’s managerial style has been influenced by his talks with Ravizza. When Maddon left the Angels for the Rays, he brought Ravizza along. The same happened in 2015 when Maddon came to Chicago.

Ravizza worked with other professional and college teams in many other sports, as well as helping many US Olympians. He co-authored the book “Heads-up Baseball” in 1998.

Honestly, I can’t do justice to what Ravizza did. The players who worked with him can, so maybe it’s time to let them speak instead.

Condolences to his friends and family. He will be missed by the Cubs, baseball and the sporting world in general.