Sunday, July 13, 2008

RIP: Dave Ricketts

The Cardinals have lost another member of the family. Dave Ricketts, who worked with the catchers for the Cardinals after playing, died of cancer at the age of 73. May he rest in peace.
Dave Ricketts shaped generations of catchers as a coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and will be remembered for his “passion”, his “zeal for life” and a contagious eagerness to teach, friends, teammates and pupils said Sunday after learning the longtime coach had died early Sunday morning.

“I learned a lot from him,” said Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo. “I learned how to teach. He was a friend and a good mentror. He had a great passion for teaching, and he knew how to get his point across in a unique way. He made sure you understood it. If he needed to repeat it 100 times or 1,000 times, he would do it until you got it done.

“He didn’t quit on anybody.”

Ricketts, who played for the Cardinals in the 1960s and returned later as a coach and instructor, died a day after his 73rd birthday. He had been battling cancer. He lived in St. Louis.

A native of Pennsylvania, Ricketts finished his major-league playing career as a Pirate and went onto coach for the Pirates at the major-league level. Former Pittsburgh pitcher and current broadcaster Steve Blass remembered as the hardest-working coach he’s had been around in 49 years with the game.[...]

Manager Tony La Russa placed Ricketts in the category of the Cardinals’ Mount Rushmore of coaches, which includes longtime minor-league instructor George Kissell, the keeper of the Cardinal Way, and Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst. It was the young catchers who worked mostly with Ricketts, but it was the entire organization that benefited from Ricketts’ presence.

“Sometimes the word ‘great’ gets over-used, and it’s a shame,” La Russa said. “There have been some truly great Cardinals who have come through the organization, but I don’t know anyone greater or more beloved than Dave Ricketts.”

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