Richard 'Poz' Pozzi

Richard L. Pozzi, a championship softball pitcher who went on to own a poplar Santa Rosa Avenue bar and later parlayed his love of sports into a career as a professional gambler, has died.

He was 72.

The man known to friends simply as "Poz" pitched on the Santa Rosa-based Guanella Brothers team that won the American Softball Association's national title in 1974.

From 1975 to about 1984, he owned Player Vic's bar and card room, which attracted colorful characters including members of the Hells Angels and Oakland Raiders football players.

After closing the watering hole, he spent his remaining 37 years as a professional gambler, participating in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas from 2009-2011, said his daughter, Kathleen Pozzi of Santa Rosa.

"My dad had more friends than anyone I have ever met," said Pozzi. "He was generous and sweet and never said a bad word about anybody."

Richard Leo Pozzi was born in 1940 on the family's dairy ranch in the Bloomfield area of Petaluma.

The descendant of Swiss-Italian immigrants went to Tomales High, where he was a standout baseball and football player.

It was there that he met his future wife, Judy. They were married after graduation in 1958 and had three children. Kathleen Pozzi is Sonoma County's Public Defender.

The family moved to his parents' ranch but Pozzi remained focused on sports. He had been courted by a minor league baseball team and turned his attention to amateur fast-pitch softball.

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