Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

May 24, 2014

Of family and baseball: Coach’s dad hasn’t missed a Loggers’ game in decades

ENID, Okla. — Down countless roads, through good games and quiet bus rides home, Ron Riggle Sr. has been there for his son.

When “Bull” Riggle Jr. first played baseball for Lincoln Land Community College in 1987, his dad came to every game. Then, he made trips with the team when Bull became an assistant.

The Springfield, Ill., native is in Enid this weekend to cheer on the Loggers, who are in their first NJCAA Division II World Series since his son became head coach.

With such close ties to the Lincoln Land Community College baseball team, Riggle Sr. has extended his fatherly role to the hundreds of ball players that have worn the Loggers’ uniform over the past three decades.

At times a mentor and booster, the semi-retired trucking consultant is helping keep a scorecard during this World Series. At home games he runs a concession stand he built. On the road he does whatever the team needs, whether it’s making sandwiches or giving advice learned over the past 71 years.

This young team and its seven freshmen starters have been somewhat of a surprise this season, making it to the final tournament with a 44-15 record. Riggle said his son’s dream as a head coach always was to lead a team to the World Series.

“You sit there as a fan rooting for the kids, because you’re with them all the time, and then you sit there as a father watching your son play — it’s fulfilling,” he said.

A few hours before the Loggers were scheduled to play their opening game Saturday, he joked that sometimes he feels like there’s more pressure on him than his son.

“You feel a lot of pressure as a father. You can’t do anything,” Riggle said. “He at least can control part of the game — you sit there as a father and you’re watching.”

Riggle is a humble man, hesitant even to speak about his impressive streak of supporting the team. He quotes Donne and Hemingway with ease, and speaks of success with a John Wooden-esque tenor, although he’s never given a locker room speech.

“I’m not their coach. I understand what my role is, but when I see ways I can help them or guide them down a path, I do that,” Riggle said. “Nobody wins all the time and when you don’t win, it’s how you react to that. After you quit the first time, quitting gets easier.”

Some of his proudest moments as the team’s mentor have come at the end of the year, when graduating players head home. Occasionally, Riggle said, parents will reach out to him. He recalls one letter he got a few years ago from the father of one of the players.

“He was a kid that could have gone either way,” he said. “And his father wrote, ‘I sent you a boy and you returned a man to me.’

“You ask why I go? That’s why.”

Lincoln Land Community College played Hinds (Miss.) Community College in the late game Saturday. The loser of that game plays again tonight at 7 p.m. at David Allen Memorial Ballpark, weather permitting.

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