A love of baseball, commitment to youth and loyalty to Fresno High School underpinned a coaching career that ranks among the greatest in Central Section history.
Papi had coached 37 varsity seasons for the Warriors at the time of his induction, winning 580 games, second-most in the section history, and among the Top 10 in the state.
Despite demographic shifts that turned Fresno’s oldest high school into an inner-city school, he continued the Warriors’ century-long tradition of baseball excellence. Papi, a catcher, played for Coach Len Bourdet at Fresno City College, then went on to play for both Coach Pete Beiden and Coach Bob Bennett at Fresno State, where he learned that executing the fundamentals and giving your all were crucial to success.
He was a member of the 1967 team was 38-10 and played in the NCAA torunament. After four years as assistant coach, Papi took command of the Fresno High program in 1975. Through the 20011 season, he had won one Central Section championship (1987) and five league titles (2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 20011). The 2004 team finished second in the section.
A superb pitching coach, Papi developed two future major league hurlers: John Hoover and Bobby Jones, both of whom were All-Americans at Fresno State before signing pro contracts.
The Papi name is synonymous with the Fresno Baseball Easter Classic, which became one of the nation’s top prep tournaments under his leadership. Papi was the ALl-Metro Coach of the Year (1982, 1987, 2002, 2004) and the Northern California co-Coach of the Year (1987).
He is enshrined in the Fresno State Baseball Hall of Fame, California State Basebal Association Hall of Fame and the California Coaches Association Hall of Fame.