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Why Baseball’s First Global Ambassador Deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom

During his 25-year tenure as head baseball coach and as the founding athletic director of the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletic department, Bill Arce developed the program, facilities and staff into one of the top NCAA Division III private college programs in the country and the department remains so today. For his years of dedication to baseball and the campus community, Arce is an inductee into the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Halls of Fame.

As athletic director under Arce’s leadership from 1958-1983, the department grew from nine men’s programs in 1958 to 19 by the time he retired in 1983, which included the addition of several women’s sports in what became Claremont-Mudd-Scripps athletics as it is today. On the diamond, he served as head coach from 1959-1979 and totaled 443 career wins and three Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) titles. In 2001, the ABCA honored Arce by selecting him as the recipient of the Lefty Gomez Award, one of the most prestigious awards in all of amateur baseball that is presented each year to an individual who has distinguished himself amongst his peers and has contributed significantly to the game of baseball locally, nationally, and internationally.

Photo: Bill Arce, second from left, at a dinner welcoming the Chinese national baseball team at Edmunds Ballroom on the Pomona College campus in 1981. With him are the assistant manager of the Chinese team, far left, Peter O’Malley, who owned the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time, and the manager of the Chinese team, far right.

 

Crouching in the snow in the triangle of the Siegfried Line with Patton’s Army, nineteen-year old Bill Arce vowed that if he survived the war he would “do something worthwhile with his life.” When the medic took shrapnel from his leg, Bill told him he didn’t feel anything. “That’s because you have frostbite.” “What’s frostbite? I’m from California.” Home he came to Stanford University and using the GI bill, he earned his B.A. M.A. and Ph.D.

While Bill was serving as Athletic Director at Claremont McKenna/Harvey Mudd College in 1962, he received an invitation to teach baseball in Amsterdam, Holland. His reputation as a teacher and coach traveled the globe. Over the next thirty years he received invitations from 19 countries and spread American good will in each country he visited.

In 1980 he was invited to the People’s Republic of China to work with their top players and coaches. The State Department granted approval in twenty minutes. They saw the opportunity of sending Bill to make friends for America before diplomatic relations had been established. Bill asked Peter O’Malley for equipment and O’Malley sent a pitching machine, bats, books and 27 Dodger baseball caps. Bill acts on principle wherever he goes. In 1983 he refused to teach in South Africa because they would not allow black players and white players to play on the same team.

Through the sport of baseball Bill has taken American values around the world. From the battles in the snow in WWII, this veteran of the Greatest Generation came home and indeed, did “something worthwhile with his life.” The Presidential Medal of Freedom would express the country’s appreciation for Bill’s service to America and for his being a global ambassador of good will.

Nominating Committee

Eric Affeldt — President, CEO, ClubCorp
Steve Baker — Vice President, Major League Baseball International
Steve Bullock — Governor of Montana
Judy Chu — Member of Congress, California, District 27
Patrick J. Conroy, S.J. — Chaplain, U.S. House of Representatives
William W. Crouch — General, U.S. Army, Retired
John Dorrance — Head, Intelligence Unit, NATO
Myrlie Evers — Civil Rights Activist and Author
Carla Anderson Hills — Chairman, CEO, Hills & Company
Roderick Hills — Chairman, Hills Program on Governance
Tom Leppert — President, Kaplan Inc.
John Maguire — President, Claremont Graduate University, 1981-1999
Cameron Munter — Ambassador to Pakistan, 2010-2012
Robert Nakasone — President and CEO, Toys “R” Us, 1994-1999
Peter O’Malley — Former Owner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Wes Parker — Los Angeles Dodgers
Jil Stark — Director, Los Angeles County Fair
Jack Stark — President, Claremont McKenna College, 1970-1999
Robert E. Tranquada, M.D. — Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences

 

 

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Bill Arce for the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Bill Arce Nominating Committee
c/o Office of Public Affairs and Communications
400 N. Claremont Boulevard
Claremont, California 91711-4015