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Former Monroe baseball coach Denny Holt was City Section pioneer

Eric Sondheimer
Former Monroe baseball coach Denny Holt died on Feb. 8 in Hawaii. He was 84.  (Monroe 1971 Yearbook)

Denny Holt, who had a military-like crew cut and taught the kind of precise baseball fundamentals in the 1960s and 1970s at Monroe High that were emulated by top programs in the Los Angeles City Section, died on Feb. 8 in Hilo, Hawaii, his son, James, said. He was 84.

Holt guided Monroe to City titles in 1971 and 1974 and used to have memorable showdowns with Granada Hills and coach Darryl Stroh. They played in the 1976 City final at Dodger Stadium, and Granada Hills won 2-1.

Holt coached for 21 years at Monroe before retiring and moving to Hawaii in 1981 with his wife, Jackie. Both were teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Holt was known for teaching discipline and bunting skills, both of which were adopted by Stroh, who'd go on to win five City titles.

"He was at the top of the hill when I took over," Stroh said. "We played them regularly. He was really a fine man. I had a lot of respect for him. I copied him early on. I didn't have near the knowledge or experience he had. I saw what I thought worked. He was doing it and doing it well. We had some real battles. There's nobody I respected more."

Holt helped established playing City Section baseball during Easter with a tournament and winter league. He left for Hawaii to enter the construction business and also got into football officiating. One of his best players at Monroe was major leaguer Doug DeCinces.

When Monroe opened in 1958, Holt was the baseball coach at age 23. The team went 0-16. Perhaps his best team was 1971 when the Vikings went 19-0.

"He was all class," Stroh said. "He always had something nice to say. When you compare the way he handled his business to how it's today, it's a big difference."