Fresno City baseball assistant Sam Flores dies suddenly. Coaches, players devastated

Fresno City College assistant baseball coach Sam Flores died late Monday after suffering a sudden brain aneurysm, according to family and friends. He was 41.

Flores coached at Fresno City for four seasons, and was a physical education teacher at Fresno Unified for the last 14 years.

Flores was flown to UCSF Medical Center Monday where he was put on life support until his passing, his family said.

The impact of ‘Coach Flo’

Flores’ passing devastated the baseball community, with many saying that “Coach Flo” was always more than just a baseball coach.

“He wanted you to succeed as badly as you wanted to,” said former player Ian Ross. “He would stay after practice for you, he would come early for you. He did whatever it took to get you to be the player and person you wanted and should be.”

Ross said he is grateful for all the opportunities Flores opened up for him. “I hope I will make him proud in whatever I do.”

Jiovanni Saavedra, another former player, echoed that sentiment. “I don’t think I would have the (scholarship) offer I was fortunate enough to receive if it wasn’t for him,” Saavedra said. “I’m sure countless amount of kids from that program can say the same thing.”

Fresno City coach Ron Scott said, “I can’t put into words what Sammy meant to, not only myself, but the entire Fresno City College program, and in a lot of ways the baseball community. I loved him. I’ve been reached out by so many people asking if it’s not true. They loved him; he’s touched many people in different ways and helped got them scholarships. He was like our life line. I’ve been coaching a long time and it felt like a blood transplant in our baseball program (when he arrived). ... He had a lot of energy and was infectious and got us going.”

Longtime Fresno City baseball assistant coach Eric Solberg said, “I have went from mad to sad to now just lost. From a baseball perspective he quite simply was the glue that held it all together not just with the players but the coaches, as well. From a personal perspective, I have lost my friend and I don’t quite know what to do with that but sit here and cry. I’m devastated for his family.”

Alec Gamboa, who was drafted this year by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Fresno City, tweeted Monday morning as news first spread. “... Why you? It just doesn’t make any sense. You were too good of a man... you were always there to help. I love you Sam Flores.”

Championship at Hoover High

Flores taught physical education full time at Hoover High and was the baseball coach there from 2009 to 2015. Under his direction, the 2014 team finished with a 20-7 record and won the North Yosemite League championship, the first league championship in 39 years for the school, according to Flores’ biography.

Before Hoover, he coached at Edison and Clovis West high schools.

Flores played for Fresno City early in his career, moving on to Stanislaus State where he finished his playing career in 2001.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and in 2017 earned his master’s degree in kinesiology from Fresno Pacific.

Flores leaves behind his wife, Andrea Hall, and their children Claire Hall and Cal Flores.

Help for Flores family

Scott said there are plans to establish a college trust fund for Cal. “We love that guy and it’s our way to keep that bond with his family. We’re going to put his name on our uniform. I love him like a son and a friend. It is a real tragic loss and a tough one.”

Solberg organized a GoFundMe account to support the family.

Services set

Visitation will be held Thursday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. and will conclude at 6 p.m. at Lisle Funeral Home, 1605 L Street in Fresno.

A funeral service will occur Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 at 10 a.m. at Northpointe Community Church, located at 4625 W. Palo Alto in Fresno.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo