The Obit For John Zar

John "Red" Zar 1920-2008

Published in the Daily Breeze from 10/8/2008 - 10/9/2008

John "Red" Zar, 88, of Palm Springs, CA passed peacefully at home on October 3, 2008 after a beautiful life. Red, a second generation Croatian, was born to Klemento and Ivka Zar on November 25, 1920 in San Pedro, California. It was there where Red began his baseball career, dominating the outfield for San Pedro High. In 1938, upon graduation, Red signed a professional baseball contract as a pitcher with the New York Yankees.

Between 1938 and 1942, Red climbed his way up the minor league organization. After a successful 17-6 record season with Idaho Falls in which he once won four games in one week, two as a starter and two as a reliever, he moved up to play for Norfolk, Virginia. In 1942 he signed with the Seattle Rainier's Triple "A" team. 1942 also brought World War II and feeling it was his duty to serve his country, Red enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

A combination of his love for the game and his remarkable talent for teaching drew him to coaching while serving in the U.S. Naval Special Services and in 1945,

Red decided to move back to his hometown where he began coaching local teams from Pony to Colt to Semi-Pro, as well as becoming one of Mary Star High School's last coaches. In that same year he married the love of his life, Mary, and together they started their family of four boys.

During his youth coaching, from 1946 through 1968, Red was instrumental in signing many local stars with baseball contracts. He represented San Pedro greats like Joey Amalfitano, Alan Ashby, Bobby Balcena, Ray Deeter, Marco Guglielmo, Ed Hughes, Joe Lovitto, Gary Maddox, Nello Saggiani and Jerry Zuvela.

During Red's time as a mentor, coach and scout he never accepted a single payment for his services. It goes without saying...with Red, it was always for the love of the game. In 1989, during San Pedro's Centennial Year, Red was honored as being one of the 100 greatest athletes to come out of that city. This year Red was excited to be inducted into the Los Angeles "Sportswalk to the Waterfront". His plaque will be located on 6th Street in San Pedro.

Along with his love of baseball, Red was also a successful business man. In 1985 he retired as President and CEO of General Petroleum in Long Beach, a company he started with a single fuel dock on Terminal Island. Today, General Petroleum is a major supplier of fuels and lubricants on the West Coast and Latin America. Red took great pride in being a life member of the Elks, Dalmatian American Club, American Legion Post #519, Professional Baseball Players Association and the Disabled American Veterans.

Red is survived by his wife, Mary, of 63 years; his sons and their wives, John and Jan Zar of Manhattan Beach; Anthony and Joyce Zar of Thousand Oaks; Andrew and Lynn Zar of Long Beach; grandchildren, Jamie, Stacy, Nikki, Natalie and Jonathan. Red joins his son Clement in heaven who passed away in 1988.

The family would also like to thank all of the nurses from Odyssey Health Care of Rancho Mirage for their wonderful and thoughtful care with special recognition to nurse Jerri proceeding Red's passing. A Celebration of Life, Polynesian style, will be held on November 28th at American Legion Post #519, 400 N. Belardo Road in Palm Springs from 1-4pm. Please sign the guest book at