June 26, 2009
As an amputee with a prosthetic leg, it would be easy for Ronnie Richardson to have a negative outlook on life.
But through the strength of Christ, Richardson has discovered he has reason to live each day with a positive outlook on life.
The 41-year old Richardson, a diabetic who lost his left leg in 2005 because of an infection, has reason to be grateful by being able to coach baseball.
Richardson has been able to stay close to the game he loves as a coach in the Columbus-Lowndes Park and Recreation Authority''s Dizzy Dean 11-12-year old baseball league.
"I just have faith and I''m staying connected with God," Richardson said of being able to stay close to baseball after having his leg amputated. "I keep understanding that there is always strength coming from Him."
Richardson coached the Microtek Red Sox during the regular season and now he''s the coach of the Columbus American All-Stars, who will play in the 11-12-year old North State Tournament on July 3 at Winona.
Richardson said he''s thankful to be able to coach baseball and remain close to the sport he loves..
"(Coaching) helps me press on and not worry about so many things," he said. "I do it because I have a desire and passion for the game and it allows me to be able to give back to the kids."
It was on the baseball field where Richardson made a name for himself. He pitched former Lee High School in Columbus to state championships in 1986 and 1987 before going onto a career in the Boston Red Sox organization.
Richardson still holds state high school records with 425 innings pitched and 856 career strikeouts. He''s second in state history with 61 career wins, an 0.90 career ERA, 54 career complete games and 246 strikeouts in a season, while he is tied for third with 20 strikeouts in a game and 19 wins in a season.
He went on to be the sixth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1987 and he made it as high as Class AAA with Pawtucket before being released in the spring of 1993.
Richardson''s goal is to see his players enjoy the same kind of career he had in baseball.
"The thing about it is, we have to understand that once upon a time we were kids," Richardson said. "I can remember there were coaches in my life when I was coming up that showed me love and showed me patience and spent time with me in hte game. So what I want to do is be able to return my love and return my compassion and put my time in so that maybe one of these days these kids can be rewarded and be able to play the game at a high level and be able to go as far as I did once upon a time."
Richardson said he loves coaching the players at Propst Park and center fielder and pitcher Tyran Smith, of the Columbus Americans, sad the feeling is mutual.
"He''s a good coach," Smith said. "He''s the only coach I''ve had in baseball that I''ve liked."
The Columbus Americans are scheduled to play Greenwood their first game in the North State Tournament at 5:30 p.m. on July 3.
Richardson believes the team has the potential to do well in the tournament.
"If I can get guys to listen and get guys that I''m able to work with, then the sky is the limit because I have a lot of confidence in myself," Richardson said. "If I can instill confidence in my kids to where they can play the game at a high level, I can see this team going pretty far."
Smith also believes the Americans have the potential to advance to the 12-year old Dizzy Dean World Series in Tupelo on July 16.
"We have a great team," Smith said. "We practice hard at practice. We do what Coach tells us to do. We listen when Coach is talking."
In addition to Smith, members of the team are Demarcus White of the Microtek Red Sox, Brodrick Wriley of the Commercial Dispatch Twins, Jason Baswell and Ethan Ashton of Marty''s Service Center Yankees, Cliff Gray, Shay Boyd and Javonta Ellis of the USA Electric Royals, Johnny Holley and T.J. Stephens of the Severstal Rockies, and Bryan Ezell and Ryan Ezell of the Santa Fe Orioles.