The 1985 athletic season was one to remember at Glendale College. The football team was ranked among the nation’s best and was inducted into the hall of fame in 2002. The 1984-85 men’s basketball team won the Inland Valley Conference title and advanced to the state playoffs and will be inducted into the hall of fame tonight as the outstanding team.
But as far as individual performances went that year, Wally Ritchie stands out as one of the best players to ever wear a Vaquero baseball uniform. The lanky lefthander from Hoover High accounted for over half of Glendale’s 25 wins that year with a 12-3 record with nine complete games as a starter and four saves as a relief pitcher. His earned run average of 1.90 in 123 1/3 innings with 146 strikeouts and 40 walks looks even more impressive considering he faced over 500 batters that season and allowed just 95 hits. For his efforts that year, Ritchie was named the
Inland Valley Conference Co-Most Valuable Player and an all-state selection.
Ritchie did not just burst on the scene that year for the Vaqueros as an unheralded player. Born and raised in Glendale, he excelled at every level he played in from Little League through Babe Ruth, American Legion and at Hoover High, where he was the league MVP and a first-team All-CIF selection as a senior in 1983.
Despite leaving Glendale for one season to attend Brigham Young University, where he lettered for the Cougars in 1984, Glendale College Head Baseball Coach Steve Coots kept close tabs on Ritchie during his time in Provo, Utah, and welcomed him to the Vaqueros squad when he decided to return to GCC for the 1985 season.
That decision and his success with the Vaqueros in 1985 paved the way for Ritchie to become drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth round of the 1985 Amateur Baseball Draft. He made his Major League debut on May 1, 1987, and played four years in the majors’ 1987 and 1988 and 1991 and 1992. His career totals include pitching in 147 games, all in relief for the Phillies, and posting a 6-5 record and an ERA of 3.14.
Ritchie’s career in the big leagues ended in 1992 but his career in baseball lasted until 1998 when he pitched one last season for the Mission Viejo Vigilantes and the Taiwan Tigers. In 1992, 1993 and 1995, Ritchie also went to spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago White Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It has been almost 20 years since Ritchie left Glendale College to pursue the dream of pitching in the major league and he has come full circle as a person by returning to school to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pepperdine University and raising three young children with his wife, Jennie.