For more than a decade, Mack Paciorek has played an important role in the lives of scores of San Marino’s young people.
Now it’s time for Paciorek to play an important role in the lives of his own young people.
And with that, Paciorek has announced that he will step down from his role as head baseball coach at San Marino High School, his alma mater.
“I think the time is right,” Paciorek said in an interview this week of the decision he formally announced on Wednesday, June 14. “At the end of the day, the number one biggest reason is the time commitment away from my own family. Over time it wears on you, spending 3 hours a day in the car, plus the amount of hours away from home. One day you realize that you haven’t been able to spend time with your own kids. I feel time slipping away and I am not active in my own family. There comes a breaking point and that time is now.”
Paciorek and his wife, Keri, have two sons; Luke, 10, and Brett, who is eight. The boys are enjoyable mainstays at Titan home games. The family lives in Rancho Cucamonga and the commute was becoming a bear for Paciorek.
“Luke and Bret have not been able to play Little League,” he said. “My not being home enough doesn’t let them participate. Their buddies are starting to play in a casual, Sunday sandlot baseball league. Luke and Brett are both ready to play. We don’t want to see that time frame pass by. I want them to have a chance to enjoy the incredible, lifelong friendships that are made in Little League. It sometimes takes me two hours on the road just to go home. That’s a lot of family dinners I am missing. This is a six or seven-day work week. I am proud of what we have done with the program. I want it to be a great experience and a great memory, but I don’t want it tied to a major regret of not being with my family. I want quality family time.”
Paciorek will continue operating B1, a sports development academy that focuses on training athletes, especially baseball players. The name is derived from Bat 1.000, an homage to his father’s record-setting day as a member of the Houston Colt .45s in 1963 when he went 3-for-3 and walked twice in the only Major League baseball game he ever played. John Paciorek remains the only player in Major League history with a 1.000 batting average in more than two plate appearances.
“That has become our motto at the academy, prepare to be perfect – plan to succeed,’” Mack Paciorek said. “We encourage everyone to go 3-for-3. To be an excellent student, athlete and leader.”
Paciorek and his brother, J.P., hope to expand the program to other areas of the country.
“I will still have a fair amount of travel, but the good news is I will be home for longer stretches of time,” Mack said.
A 1996 graduate of San Marino High School, Paciorek was all-CIF and all-State after his junior year and all-CIF as a senior. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers while attending Los Angeles City College and later played collegiate ball at Iowa State and Northwestern Louisiana. His 5-year professional baseball career took him “all across the country” in several independent leagues.
“I think that is why I have a large number of contacts,” said Paciorek. “So many of the guys that I played with are now in excellent roles at colleges.
Paciorek returned to San Marino High School in 2006, serving two years as an assistant to CIF Hall of Fame baseball Coach Mickey McNamee. He was named head coach in 2008 upon McNamee’s retirement.
“Mickey built a dynasty in his 44 years,” said Paciorek. “It fell off due to a lot of factors but we had a chance to rebuild and I am proud of that.”
After a 5-year playoff absence, the Titans returned to post-season play in 2008, advancing to the 3rd round. San Marino won the Rio Hondo League championship in 2014 following an 18-year drought.
The past two seasons have been disappointing. In 2015, the Titans finished 2nd in the Rio Hondo League but dropped a first-round playoff contest to Garey in extra innings.
This past spring, San Marino was 13-15 overall and 5-7 in league action, missing the playoffs. Losing Cornell-bound pitcher Trevor Davis to an elbow injury at the beginning of the season certainly didn’t help matters.
“There is a time to move on and a time for the school to have a change at the top,” Paciorek said. “The things we have done at San Marino have been incredible. The community has been amazing. I learned a lot. There are so many people who have contributed to this program. I have had some detractors, but I am also very thankful for them, too. You can learn a lot from the people who are challenging what you do. It helps you grow. This is not a negative parting. I am ready to move on. I am not rushing off to look for another coaching job. I am focusing on the academy. It has taken off.”
Paciorek said he is “most proud” of bringing back respect to the program “from an outward perspective.”
“Just playing a part in rebuilding what was a great dynasty,” he said. “I am proud that we could year in and year out put competitive teams on the field. I am most proud to maximize our talent, whether that means a kid goes on to play in college or not.”
When asked to do so, Paciorek mentioned the names of more than 30 former Titans who advanced to the college baseball ranks during his tenure.
“For a small school like San Marino with a large focus on academics, it’s nice to see so many move on,” he said.
Among his personal highlights was the recent drafting of pitcher Jeff Bain, a solid career at the United States Air Force Academy by third baseman Bradley Haslam that included a challenge to the all-time successive games hitting streak, pitching success at UC Irvine by lefthander Miles Glazier and Matt Forgatch’s memorable appearance on ESPN Sportscenter after a walk-off grand slam while playing at Pepperdine.
“But also seeing several kids overachieve, whether they made it to the next level or not,” he added.
Paciorek made it a point to encourage his players to help with charities and sponsored several games and events to that end. One more memorable such event brought more than twenty underprivileged children to McNamee Field in May, 2015, to watch the Titans, play a game on the field and enjoy a postgame barbecue.
“There are so many amazing kids in this town and they were so willing whenever we had an opportunity,” said Paciorek. “It was nice to help other young people, but it was also a way for our kids to see that there is something bigger than a bad test score or a bad game.
I am so proud of how our kids handled those moments.”