Ryan set for induction into Smyth Co. Sports HOF

Published 11:56 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

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Richard Dick Ryan knows what it’s like to be on the big stage. As a multi-talented athlete at Elizabethton High School where he played a big role on several teams but found his real calling on the baseball diamond where he led his Cyclone teams to championships starting in all but two games during his career as a Cyclone.

He was also the co-captain of the District 7 basketball champions in his senior season.

Unlike many young men who yearn to get a call from the Major League, Ryan had those opportunities presented to him but decided to maintain his amateur status and attended Milligan College staring there on the diamond as well after turning down offers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers.

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Under legendary coach Harold Stout, Ryan accumulated several records while playing for Milligan. One game of note was against the University of Tennessee (19-3 record) where Ryan collected a four-hit game.

He was all-conference as a Buff for four years where he recorded records for most hits in a game (4), RBIs in a game (7), and most triples in a game (3).

Ryan graduated from Milligan with a degree in science and physical education and found joy playing for several seasons on many semi-pro teams. He participated in the World Baseball Congress in 1966 and throughout his travels, several of his teammates were professional baseball players, such as; Jake Sells, Clyde Wright, and Woody Fryman.

In 1967, Ryan began teaching and coaching in Titusville, Florida at James Madison Jr. High School coaching football, basketball, and track.

He and his wife, Mary, moved to Smyth County where he taught and coached for many years.

He taught Science at Rich Valley High School from 1969-1980 and coached the Steer baseball team during that time. His teams were ultra-successful and garnished Hogoheegee District Championships in 1973, ’74, ’75, and ’76.

The Steers were Region C runner-up in 1973 and Region C Champions in 1974. Dick was named the Hogoheegee District Coach-of-the-Year from 1973 to 1976. He was also the Region C Coach-of-the-Year in 1974.

Ryan obtained a Master’s Degree in School Administration and Supervision from ETSU as he stepped away from being a teacher to enter administration at Rich Valley where he served as assistant principal before being named principal where he served until the school consolidated with R.B. Worthy in Saltville, Virginia.

He served as principal of Chilhowie Middle School in 1987 where he remained until his retirement in 2002 after spending 36 years in education – 33 of those in Smyth County.

His retirement was short-lived as he soon became the Chilhowie representative on the Smyth County School Board. Dick also served on the board of the Smyth County Adult Literacy Education, the Smyth-Bland Regional Library, and the Lincoln Theater.

During this time he wrote the first grant for the Chilhowie Town Park Walking Trail and was instrumental in several other changes and improvements in the town of Chilhowie. He also helped start the “Friends of Chilhowie Public Library” and coached several youth leagues over the years.

Many of his students and players have become successful citizens in this country becoming teachers, coaches, doctors, town managers, nurses, military persons, school superintendents, law enforcement officials, and many too numerous to mention.

He, along with Saltville resident Herbert “Chub” Arnold, co-authored a book about the Saltville Alkalies baseball team that existed during the golden age of local baseball in Southwest Virginia and Upper East Tennessee.

Ryan is scheduled to join the Class of 2020 a year after the induction had been postponed due to COVID-19. His induction is scheduled for Friday evening during the Chilhowie vs. Rural Retreat Football game.