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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wally Ritchie, Another Chance - 232

Check out the revisited Wally Ritchie feature from December 2011: Wally Ritchie, Tough Situations

Already two-and-a-half years removed from his last appearance in the majors, Wally Ritchie left baseball in 1995 for a career in construction and civil engineering, according to the Los Angeles Times.

That lasted two years, then the left-hander was back on the mound, taking one more shot with the independent Western League in Salinas in 1997, then Mission Viejo in 1998.

"I'm 32," Ritchie told The Times before the 1998 season, "but being left-handed and getting people out, it does give me another chance. That's one of the reasons we decided to come back. Before I got past the point where I could come back, we thought we'd better go ahead and try."

Ritchie broke in with the Phillies a decade earlier, coming into his first game May 1, 1987, pitching an inning and giving up just one hit. He had been drafted by Philadelphia in the fourth round in 1985.

Ritchie went on to pitch in 49 games in 1987, posting a 3.75 ERA and saving three games the year teammate Steve Bedrosian saved 40 and won the Cy Young.

He returned to Philadelphia for 19 games in 1988 before two years in AAA Scranton, including 1990.

Upon his return to the bigs in 1991, Ritchie what could perhaps be his most memorable moment, though not his finest hour. On June 4, after pitching the Braves' Otis Nixon tight, then coming back and hitting him, Nixon charged the mound, drop-kicking Richie, punching him and ripping his jersey. Ritchie denied intentionally hitting Nixon.

Ritchie pitched his final major league game in 1992 on July 28. He pitched 1993 at Detroit's AAA club in Toledo; 1994 stepping backward for the Reds' AA club in Chattanooga. He left baseball, according to The Times, when he was asked to be a replacement player.

He told the Times that, if he had another season in the Western League like his first, his playing career would be over. He did. And it was.

Ritchie is still in baseball, teaching it. He's currently listed as giving private lessons in Utah.

A 1991 wire story about the Nixon brawl, with photo: Does anyone ever get hurt in those brawls?
Read the May 1998 Los Angeles Times story: Major Dreams

1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 56/880 - 6.4%
Made the Majors: 34 - 61%
Never Made the Majors: 22 - 39%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 13
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 18

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