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.
This morning the sports world lost one of the best mental game coaches to ever do it. There’s no doubt in my mind I would have never made it to the big leagues without @KenRavizza1. He always had a different perspective and I’ll never forget his voice! #YouWorkinIt RIP Kenny— Justin Turner (@redturn2) July 9, 2018
Devastated to hear the news of Ken Ravizza's passing. Ken was one of the most influential people in my life & baseball career. I am so thankful for his teachings and the effect he had on my life. One of the best guys I have ever met, and I will remember him dearly. RIP Ken. #WWKD— David Berg (@davidberg_26) July 9, 2018
Ken Ravizza, simply put, set the bar for mental preparedness in sports and life. We started when I was kicking field goals in college. Continued thru my baseball career. I was lucky to have met him as thousands of others were. RIP my friend.— Phil Nevin (@philnev23) July 9, 2018
So saddened to hear of the passing of Ken Ravizza. Like so many players across baseball, I use the tools he taught each time I take the mound. I’m thankful to have become a better player, but more importantly, a better person through knowing Ken. #chopwoodcarrywater— Luke Farrell (@Luke_T_Farrell) July 9, 2018
When I was a freshmen in High School, there was this point where I totally got the yips pitching. I COULD NOT throw a strike if my life depended on it in a game, and if it was a strike it was for sure a HR. Ken Ravizza worked with me and taught me his idea of “Here and Now”.— Kenzie Grimes (@KenzieGrimes20) July 9, 2018
Sad news today hearing about the passing of Ken Ravizza. I first met/worked with him my Fr year @ LB State. His lessons on the mental game of baseball will forever be engrained in me and many others... wouldn't be where I'm at in my career without them. Forever grateful. RIP Ken— Tommy Nance (@TomNance34) July 9, 2018
So sorry to hear about the passing of Ken Ravizza. He helped so many of us with the mental part of baseball and life! He called me “Nutsy”! Rest In Peace my friend. https://t.co/GfJBJmXJXo— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) July 9, 2018
Words can’t explain the impact @KenRavizza1 has made in the mental game. If you had the pleasure of meeting Ken, I’m sure you know what he would be saying to you right right now, Hey man! Keep working it! Sports world lost a Hall of Fame person today. #RIP— Darnell McDonald (@MacDime54) July 9, 2018
Ken kept me company during a rough stretch in Chicago. Sometimes at the field, sometimes at the hotel bar. He will be missed— dan haren (@ithrow88) July 9, 2018
Condolences to his friends and family. He will be missed by the Cubs, baseball and the sporting world in general.