SAN LUIS OBISPO – Former Cal Poly basketball standout Hank Moroski, a charter member of the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame, passed away in the morning on Sunday, Dec. 20, in Novato. Moroski would have been 96 years old on New Year’s Day.
Moroski’s achievements on the basketball court are second to none in Cal Poly’s history.
He was the first player to have been a four-year starter and all-conference in each of those years. Moroski led the team in scoring every year and twice led the conference. He was equally skilled in ball handling and defense.
Moroski, who played for the Mustangs from 1947-50, remains No. 10 in career scoring with 1,224 points in 93 games, averaging 13.2 points per contest. He established many other school records in basketball during his playing days, and his scoring total held up as the record until Mike LaRoche broke the mark with 1,500 points from 1966-68.
The jerseys of Moroski (32) and LaRoche (40) were retired in 1993. They remain the only men’s basketball jerseys retired at Cal Poly. LaRoche died earlier this year on Jul. 30.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Moroski’s parents moved the family to Brooklyn, where Hank grew up. Moroski attended Eastern District High School, where he graduated in 1941.
Moroski then served in the U.S. Navy. While based at the naval air training station in Oceano, Va., he met Lieutenant Robert Mott, who “immediately took the Brooklyn boy under his wing” and induced him to play basketball during his time in the military, according to a San Luis Obispo Tribune article published on Mar. 17, 1948.
Mott later became a professor, coach, and head of the physical education department at Cal Poly from 1946 through 1978, and encouraged Moroski to attend Cal Poly. In addition to playing basketball, Moroski also played as an infielder on the Mustang baseball team in 1947 and 1948 under Coach Mott (Mott Athletics Center is named after Robert Mott). Moroski also assisted Major J.C. Deuel in coaching the Mustang junior varsity baseball team while at Cal Poly.
Named to the UCLA Bruins All-Opponent Team by John Wooden in 1949, Moroski scored 14 points in a 68-46 loss. Moroski earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education while attending Cal Poly in 1950. He then turned down an offer to play for the Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball Association and received a master’s degree in education from Stanford in 1951. During that same year, he also played AAU basketball in San Francisco.
Moroski married the former Jo Ann Martinsen at the First Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo in 1950. Jo Ann was a Poly Royal Princess in the late 1940s. While Moroski finished his master’s degree at Stanford, Jo Ann completed requirements for her bachelor’s degree in education at San Jose State.
Jo Ann’s father and Moroski’s father-in-law, Martin Martinsen, is a 1917 Cal Poly graduate who returned to the campus after World War I to become an instructor in the aeronautics and mathematics departments. He flew with Amelia Earhart in the Cal Poly bi-plane when she visited the Central Coast during one of her barnstorming tours.
If asked to rank his highlights during his college days at Cal Poly, Moroski would have listed “meeting and successfully courting my Mom as number one,” said one of Moroski’s sons, Marty. “Dad’s number two highlight would have been the people he met. From his fellow students, teammates, coaches, and teachers, all the way to the administrators (Julian McPhee and Robert Kennedy in particular) at Cal Poly, and the education he received at Cal Poly.
“Dad told me that the instructors at Cal Poly were every bit as good as those who taught him at Stanford,” Marty added.
“His third highlight would have been his success as an athlete at Cal Poly.”
After he graduated from Stanford, Moroski became a coach and teacher at Lakeport and Shafter high schools. He then served as an administrator at South High School in Bakersfield, becoming vice principal.
In 1967, Moroski left Bakersfield to fulfill his dream of planning, staffing, and opening a new high school, San Marin, in northern Marin County and served as its principal for over 20 years. Hank Moroski Gymnasium at San Marin High School is named after him.
Because of his love for Cal Poly, Moroski designated green and gold as the colors for San Marin High School and selected the Mustang as the school’s mascot. He also assisted numerous San Marin students who wanted to attend Cal Poly.
In 1988 he decided to change jobs and worked at Fireman’s Fund in Novato.
Inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame in 1987, Moroski also was inducted into the Marin Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994 for his substantial contributions as an administrator.
Moroski is survived by two sons Marty and Mike, and two daughters, Kay and Mary, along with seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Jo Ann, and his daughter Jan, who received her teaching credential from Cal Poly.
Moroski’s son Mike played for eight years in the National Football League after twice earning Far West Conference Player of the Year honors at UC Davis. He currently is the head football coach at College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho. Marty is an attorney whose law firm has offices in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. Mary works in education and lives in Novato, while Kay resides in Silver City, N.M.
Moroski also had a brother, John Morosky, who attended Cal Poly and was the manager of both the basketball and baseball teams. After he graduated, John too went into education and passed away in 2013.
A private graveside service is being planned, with a memorial service to be scheduled once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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