It is with great sorrow that we advise of the passing of long time York and West Toronto coach Pete Zakkak, affectionately known as Zak. Our deepest condolences to the Zakkak family and the extended families of West Toronto and York Baseball.
Zak was a well known groomer working for the city of Toronto. His skills were sought after by many leagues as he was meticulous with his passion to make ball fields look good. He also maintained Keelesdale Park for the past 20 years. He learned the skills for field maintenance from Mike Ohara and Bob Smyth. Mike Ohara, who maintained Keelesdale Park, took Zak under his wing and together they turned Keelesdale Park into one of Ontario best diamonds. Unfortunately, Mike Ohara passed away in 1999, but Zak carried on his legacy. He changed the name of the York “Big 8” Tournament, into the “Mike Ohara Classic”. While being the President of York Baseball and with the help from the Toronto Blue Jays, they were awarded a grant which assisted in the renovations of Smyth Park.
In 2019, Zak was the head coach of the York Blue Jays 18u and West Toronto Baseball 16u teams. Zak coached at York and Etobicoke starting in the early 90’s. He taught many great players and a few who have gone on to Major League careers, such as Joey Votto, Shawn Hill, and George Kottaras.
In 1985, after graduating from Weston Collegiate, he went on to play college baseball in Visalia, California. He was one of the first Canadians to travel to the US for baseball and opened the door to so many more. At that time, Zak also started working with the Toronto Blue Jays, as a clubhouse attendant and became friends with Rance Mulliniks, who was born in Tulare California, a few miles from where Zak went to college. Zak was welcomed into the Mulliniks home and said that he once dated his daughter. During his time with the Blue Jays, Zak became friends with many players such as, Jesse Barfield, Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado who nicknamed him “Bakers Dozen” because 13 was Zak’s favourite number. Zak continued playing baseball into his 40’s, with the York Diamonds and still holds many offensive records.
Zak was a memorable character and will be remembered fondly by all. Hero's get remembered, but legends never die.