SAN LOUIS OBISPO – Former basketball player Hank Moroski of Cal Poly, a founding member of the Cal Poly Athletic Hall of Fame, passed away Sunday morning at 8pm. December, in Novato. Moroski would have been 96 on New Year’s Day.
Moroski’s performance on the basketball court is unmatched in the history of Cal Poly.
He was the first player to be a regular customer for four years and was All-Conference in each of those years. Moroski led the team in scoring every year and led the conference twice. He was as good at handling the ball as he was at defense.
Moroski, who played for the Mustangs from 1947 to 1950, remains number 10 on the scoring list with 1,224 points in 93 games and an average of 13.2 points per game. He set many other school records in basketball during his playing years, and his total remained a record until Mike LaRoche broke the 1,500-point barrier in 1966-68.
Moroski (32) and Laroche (40) took off their sweaters in 1993. They’re still the only men’s basketball jerseys retired from Cal Poly. Laroche died on June 30th. July.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Moroski’s parents moved the family to Brooklyn, where Hank grew up. Moroski went to East High School and graduated in 1941.
Moroski went on to join the U.S. Navy. During his stay at the Marine Air Training Station in Oceano, Virginia, he met Lieutenant Robert Mott, who immediately took charge of Brooklyn’s youth and had him play basketball during his military service, according to an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune on the 17th. March 1948.
Mott then became a teacher, coach and head of the physical education department at Cal Poly from 1946 to 1978 and encouraged Moroski to attend Cal Poly. Besides playing basketball, Moroski played in 1947 and 1948 with the Mustangs’ baseball team under coach Mott (Mott Athletic Center is named after Robert Mott). Moroski also helped Major J.C. Duel to coach the Mustangs baseball team while he was at Cal Poly.
Named by John Wooden as the Bruins’ opponent in 1949, Moroski scored 14 points in a loss of 68-46. Moroski received his Bachelor of Physical Education degree while attending Cal Poly in 1950. He then declined an offer to play for the National Basketball Association in Syracuse and earned a Master’s degree in Education at Stanford in 1951. The same year, he played AAU basketball in San Francisco.
Moroski married the former Jo Anne Martinsen in 1950 in the first Presbyterian church of San Luis Obispo. Jo Anna was the Royal Princess of Poly in the late 1940s. While Moroski completed her master’s degree at Stanford, Jo Ann qualified for her bachelor’s degree in San Jose State.
Jo Ann’s father and Moroski’s father-in-law, Martin Martinsen, had graduated from Cal Poly in 1917 and returned to campus after the First World War to join the Faculty of Aeronautics and Mathematics. He arrived with Amelia Earhart in Cal Poly’s biplane when she visited the central coast during one of her barn visits.
If asked to rank his performance during his years at Cal Poly, Moroski would cite the successful encounter and politeness with my mother as number one, said one of Moroski’s sons, Marty. Father number two would be the people he met. From his classmates, teammates, coaches and teachers, to the directors (especially Julian McPhee and Robert Kennedy) of Cal Poly and the education he received at Cal Poly.
Daddy told me that the instructors at Cal Poly were as good as those who taught him at Stanford, Marty added.
His third achievement will be his success as an athlete at Cal Poly.
After graduating from Stanford, Moroski became a coach and teacher at Lakeport and Shafter High Schools. He then worked as an administrator at South High School in Bakersfield and became vice principal.
In 1967, Moroski left Bakersfield to pursue his dream of planning, staffing and opening a new high school, St. John’s High School. Marin, in the north of Marin County, where he was director for over 20 years. The Hank Moroski Gymnasium of San Marino High School is named after him.
Because of his love for Cal Poly, Moroski appointed the green and gold school for San Marino High School and chose the Mustang as the school’s mascot. He’s also helped many students at St. Thomas University. Marin who wanted to go to Cal Poly.
photo courtesy of Cal Poly Athletics
In 1988 he decided to change jobs and started working for the Novato Firefighters Foundation.
Moroski was admitted to the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987 and to the Marin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 for his important contributions as director.
Moroski leaves behind two sons, Marty and Mike; two daughters, Kay and Mary; and seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Joe Ann, to whom he had been married for 68 years, and by his daughter, Jan, who studied to become a teacher at Cal Poly.
Moroski’s son, Mike, played in the National Football League for eight years after being named Far West Conference Player of the Year twice at the University of California at Davis. He is currently the head football coach of the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho. Marty is a lawyer with offices in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Maria works in education and lives in Novato, while Kay lives in Silver City, N.M.
Moroski also had a brother, John Moroski, who attended Cal Poly and was director of the basketball and baseball teams. After his graduation John also registered and died in 2013.
A private funeral service is planned and a memorial service is planned once the restrictions on COVID-19 have been lifted.
For more information about Cal Poly Athletics, visit GoPoly.com.
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