Former Major League pitcher shares talent and experience with BYU baseball team.

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There is pure excitement on the face of new BYU pitching coach Wally Ritchie.

“Opportunities like this are rare,” Ritchie said. “Personally to be in this environment, the influences that are here not only for me, but for my family; it’s a wonderful spot to be.

Ritchie, 46, from Glendale, Calif., replaces former BYU baseball pitching coach Bobby Applegate, who recently joined the staff at the University of California-Riverside. Ritchie has 13 years of professional experience and is well trained in the sport of baseball.

Head coach Vance Law is excited to have Ritchie as part of his staff. They have known each other for 25 years; part of their long relationship comes from playing against each other professionally.

“Wally is an exceptional person who will also lead by example and promote the unique mission of the university and our baseball program,” Law said. “He is excited to be here and we are excited to have him.”

Ritchie said he has wanted to play baseball all of his life.

“I got my first Dodger uniform when I was three for Christmas and all I wanted to do was play baseball,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie attributed his love for the game to many people, from his father who was always supportive to his many coaches in little league and high school.

This isn’t Ritchie’s first time at BYU — he was a student at BYU during his freshman year in college.

“Attending BYU was a big change, obviously growing up in southern California, snow was a little different, cold was a little different,” Ritchie said. “I learned a lot and I was able to develop some great relationships which carry on to this day.”

After his freshman year at BYU, Ritchie transferred to Glendale Community College and was later drafted to the Major Leagues by the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth round.

“I was really young the first time I went to the big leagues. It’s kind of surreal — you are pitching against guys you have been watching on TV,” Ritchie said. “It’s a great experience, obviously I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I got to do what I love to do.”

Ritchie’s life may seem like it is all baseball, but at the end of the day he is still a family man. Asked how he met his wife, Ritchie paused as a slight grin crept across his face.

“I was a speaker at a youth fireside, and she was a youth at the time — and I wasn’t quite a youth anymore,” Ritchie said. “Her young women’s leader was a good friend of our family and we just hit it off. We are about five years apart in age and as soon as she graduated we were married.”

Ritchie has been married to his wife for 23 years and is especially grateful for her support throughout his professional career.

“My wife likes to say, or rather not say, that we moved 15 times the first five years of our marriage,” Ritchie said.

Ritchie is also a father to three wonderful children. After completing his professional baseball career he received a bachelor of science in Business Management from Pepperdine University, and later received an MBA from the same school.

Many on the baseball team are happy with the new addition to the staff.

“Coach Ritchie makes me feel comfortable,” said Chris Capper, a right-handed pitcher from Phoenix. “He has been to BYU and knows the program.”

The BYU baseball season kicks off Feb. 17 against UC-Riverside.

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