Cal Rossi at Visalia
Cal and Alberta Rossi came to Visalia in the fall of 1949 to start careers in education. She worked at the high school as an assistant librarian. He taught courses in business and coached the junior varsity baseball team. His mark would be made, however, by coaching the varsity football team through an undefeated, championship season. It was his first coaching job and Visalia’s first San Joaquin Valley championship in football.
Cal Rossi was a high school and university football star, at Santa Barbara and UCLA, respectively. Here is a piece by Brian Lewis posted on June 7, 2011 at LIVESTRONG.COM.
In short, Cal Rossi is the only football player to ever be drafted twice. For his era, Rossi was an exceptional college player, setting team records that would not be broken for decades. He was so good that he was mistakenly drafted by the Washington Redskins of the NFL after his junior year in 1946, even though only graduating seniors were eligible to play pro football. The Redskins drafted Rossi again the next year, but due to the world climate after World War II, a career in professional football was not as compelling as it is in present times and Rossi chose to serve in the Navy. He never played football again.
Rossi played college football at UCLA from 1944 to 1947, finishing third on the Bruins’ all-time rushing list with 1,490 yards on 255 carries. His career rushing average of 5.85 yards per carry was the highest in school history at the time. Rossi was named to the All-Coast first team in 1945, when he finished second in the nation in rushing with 679 yards, averaging 7.15 yards per carry. He set a single-game school record that would last 15 years when he piled up 169 rushing yards against Oregon in 1945.
Star Defensive Back
While Rossi never played pro football, he is famous for having been the only player ever drafted twice. Once a powerhouse, the Redskins resembled a franchise in disarray after World War II. According to team historian Rich Tandler, owner George Marshall was largely to blame. Tandler says in “The Redskins Chronicle” that Marshall would not spend money to send scouts across the country. Instead, he picked new players by scanning the sports page. So following Rossi’s stellar junior season, the Redskins had hoped to create a super backfield by pairing the UCLA star with quarterback “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh and drafted Rossi with the ninth overall pick of the 1946 draft. But underclassmen were not draft-eligible at the time. The next year, Marshall wasted another first-round pick on Rossi. After the draft, the Redskins learned that Rossi had joined the Navy and had no intention of playing pro football. Baugh never got that great running back and the Redskins went into a tailspin, failing to make the playoffs from 1946 to 1971.
Rossi was not only a star football player at UCLA, but he also enjoyed an equally successful baseball career, hitting .365 over three seasons and earning All-Coast honors. But he did not pursue a professional career in either sport. He transferred to the Naval Corps Supply School at Harvard University. Following his military duty, Rossi entered high school coaching. Rossi was inducted into the UCLA Hall of Fame in 1997.
Obituary in the Visalia Times Delta, February 6, 2013
Calvin Joseph Rossi March 14, 1924 – January 23, 2013 Former Visalia High School football coach, Calvin Joseph Rossi, passed away January 23, 2013 just two months shy of his 89th birthday. Cal grew up in Santa Barbara, attendedUCLA and Harvard Business School for his Naval Officer’s training. After a stellar football career at UCLA, Cal was the first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins. However, Cal declined this opportunity to play professional football to follow his heart into a career in education. His first teaching and coaching assignment landed him at Visalia High School. Visalia Union High School Pioneers of 1949 enthusiastically anticipated the coming of Cal Rossi to coach their football team. The previous year had proved a deep disappointment with many losses. Players returning in 1949 were determined to do better. Many felt strongly they had it in them to take the championship. They would not be disappointed. Cal delivered the guidance, and the 1949 team performed to win the CIF Championship of the San Joaquin Valley that year. Rossi brought UCLA’s single wing offense to Visalia, which like most high school teams of the day had been accustomed to using the T-formation. This change provoked some controversy, but it withered after the first win over Exeter 40-7. The Pioneers followed this win by systematically defeating their opponents to go undefeated in league play, thereby earning the right to face Merced for the CIF Championship of the San Joaquin Valley. They won it 13-0. This was a crowning glory for the Pioneers and just the beginning of Cal’s educational career that would inspire many people to strive for the best. With the Visalia team back on top, Cal moved on to accept his next teaching position with Redondo Beach High School. Cal went on to teach business and coach many young football players. His many years as an educator and advocate for teachers, students and education touched many peoples’ lives. Cal eventually became an advocate for teachers’ rights through his work with the California Teachers’ Association. Cal met the love of his life, Alberta Casier, at Santa Barbara High and married in 1947. He was a loving husband to Alberta for 65 years. Their marriage was a love story filled with wonderful memories. Cal was a devoted father to his three children Randy Rossi, Rick Rossi and Roberta (Rossi) Pyne. He instilled the value of education into his children early in life and all three became educators. In 1971 Cal moved his family to Los Altos Hills, California where he continued working for CTA and his work focused on higher education. He retired from his position as Deputy Executive Director of CTA in 1984. In 1998, Cal was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame for his outstanding performance as a Bruin football player. Calvin is also survived by his daughters-in-law, Cristy Rossi and Debbie Rossi; his son-in-law Kevin Pyne; and adoring granddaughter, Chelsea Pyne. Private family gatherings will be held to remember Cal.
From the UCLA Bruins.com, February 8, 2013
Rossi played football and baseball for the Bruins in the 1940s.
Calvin “Cal” Rossi, a two-sport star at UCLA from 1944-47 and a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away on January 23 at age 88 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. enjoyed a brilliant four-year varsity football career at right halfback and in the defensive backfield for the Bruins. During his career, he rushed for 1,490 yards on 255 carries, which put him third on the all-time list. His career rushing average of 5.85 yards per carry was the highest in school history at the time.
In addition, Rossi’s 169 rushing yards against Oregon in 1945 stood as a school record for 15 years. He ended his career with seven interceptions, including a team-leading three picks in 1947. Rossi earned All-Coast first team honors 1945.
In baseball, Rossi enjoyed an equally successful career. He hit .456 in 1945 and won All-Coast honors and hit above .300 in two other seasons.
Rossi was a first-round choice of the NFL Washington Redskins in 1946 but remained at UCLA to finish his senior year and then entered high school coaching.
His first teaching and coaching assignment was at Visalia High School, starting there in 1949 and leading the team to the CIF Championship of the San Joaquin Valley that year. Next, Rossi moved to Redondo Beach, where he taught business classes and coached at Redondo Beach High School. It was there that he eventually became an advocate for teachers’ rights through his work with the California Teachers’ Association.
In 1971, Rossi moved his family to Los Altos Hills, Calif., where he continued working for CTA, and his work focused on higher education. He retired from his position as Deputy Executive Director of CTA in 1984.
In 1997, he was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rossi is survived by his wife of 65 years, Alberta, their three children Randy Rossi, Rick Rossi and Roberta (Rossi) Pyne, as well as daughters-in-law, Cristy Rossi and Debbie Rossi; his son-in-law Kevin Pyne; and adoring granddaughter, Chelsea Pyne.