Starting as a patrol officer at 29, he rose 20 years later to deputy police chief, a post he held for more than five years.
Mr. Sada died of complications from Alzheimer's disease Feb. 2 at Active Care of Point Loma, said his son Ed Sada. He was 93.
"If a police officer worked hard and was honest, he would do anything in the world to help them," his son said. "Otherwise, he had no sympathy, and he had to let go of some of them."
When Sharp fired him after first asking him to resign, Mr. Sada demanded a hearing by the City Council. He dropped his request the next month and submitted his resignation, saying, "The problem developed out of a personality conflict between the chief of police and me."
Soon after resigning, Mr. Sada decided to run for public office. His bid for incumbent Jack Walsh's District 6 City Council seat failed.
"He had made some good investments, and he didn't have to work anymore," his son said. "Emotionally, I don't he was ready to do anything but police work."
Mr. Sada, the son of Italian immigrants, was born Nov. 23, 1912, in San Diego and grew up in Logan Heights. His first language was Italian, which he spoke until grammar school.
"He got the nickname 'Pino' playing marbles as a kid," his son said.
As a young sprinter, he finished fifth in the national Junior Olympics, missing by two spots a berth in the international finals in Paris. He ran track and played baseball at San Diego High.
In the 1990s, his alma mater recognized him with an Athlete of the Century award.
Mr. Sada played outfield for legendary coach Mike Morrow's Southern California high school championship teams in 1929 and 1930, long before there was a San Diego Section of the California Interscholastic Federation.
In a 1930 encounter with Fullerton High, he was the first of four Cavers to hit consecutive home runs, San Diego baseball historian Bill Swank said.
After graduating from San Diego High, Mr. Sada enrolled at San Diego State College. He dropped out before baseball season to sign a minor-league contract. He eventually played for the Hollywood Stars and Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League.
Some of his San Diego High teammates, including Al McNeely, Will Pappert and Joe Dobbins, also had signed pro baseball contracts.
Mr. Sada's baseball career included stints in the Texas League and in Elmira, N.Y. After seven years in the minors, married with one child and one on the way, he decided he wanted something more stable.
He left baseball with no regrets. "He made far more money in the minors than he could have in a regular job during the Depression," his son said.
After his minor-league baseball career, Mr. Sada kept his connection to the game by organizing and playing in recreational leagues. He coached American Legion ball and mentored promising young players, including future major-leaguer Deron Johnson.
Johnson, a San Diego High graduate, led the National League in 1965 with 130 RBI and hit .287 as an outfielder and first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.
In his seventh year with the San Diego Police Department, Mr. Sada was promoted to sergeant. Within two years he was a lieutenant, and within four he was a captain.
Assigned to the Northern Division in La Jolla, Mr. Sada became active in the La Jolla Rotary Club, which appointed him treasurer. He later was designated a Paul Harris Fellow.
Mr. Sada returned to downtown police headquarters as a patrol inspector in August 1958. He was promoted to deputy chief in November 1961.
During his law enforcement career, he was elected president of the statewide Peace Officers Research Association and was named chairman of the United Services Organizations' recreation committee.
"As proud as he was of his advancement within the department, he may have been even prouder of mentoring young men in the Police Athletic League program," his son said. "To this day, he is remembered by the young men whose lives he positively affected."
Mr. Sada also was active for many years in the Italian-American Golf Association.
Elva Sada, whom he married in February 1925, died in December.
Survivors include his sons, Gary of Mount Laguna, Don of Yuma, Ariz., and Ed of Holtville; 11 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and five great-great grandchildren.
No services were scheduled.
San Diego Union-Tribune, The (CA) - March 12, 2006
Deceased Name: Athos Sada Baseball star became deputy chief of SDPD
When Athos "Pino" Sada returned to the streets of his Logan Heights childhood in 1941, he proudly wore the badge of his new employer: the San Diego Police Department.
Yet to many in his old neighborhood, he would always be the kid who could outrun his classmates; the gritty left-handed hitter who usually was picked first when they chose sides in sandlot baseball games.
His reputation as an athlete followed him to San Diego High School, where Mr. Sada attracted professional scouts while hitting .611 for the Cavers' 1930 Southern California champions.
A seven-year career as a minor-league outfielder followed. But ultimately, he decided a better future lay in chasing outlaws than fly balls.