Sports column from 6/23/2017 Omaha, Nebraska, World-Herald daily newspaper (click on URL link below or scroll down to read text)
Posted here is Wildcatville photo of Ad Rutschman taken 5/19/2017 in Corvallis at OSU baseball facility.
Chatelain: Mike Riley’s mentor’s grandson starring in two sports for Oregon State
Column by Dirk Chatelain/ World-Herald staff writer
Jun 23, 2017 Updated Jun 24, 2017
Against his will, the legendary coach got a new cellphone last week. His kids made him do it — “I lost the vote.”
Ad Rutschman’s old model was pretty simple. He pushed send to make a call and send to answer a call. Now there’s voicemail and texting and all sorts of stuff, which is a good thing because long-lost friends and ex-players have been trying to compliment him.
“I cannot believe the phone calls that I’m getting,” said Rutschman, 85. “I had a phone call from one of my high school teammates that I haven’t seen in probably 50 years. … (Tuesday) morning I had 12 messages and I’m just learning to use the dang cellphone.”
What’s all the fuss about?
Rutschman’s grandson is making quite a name for himself (and grandpa) at the College World Series. The Beavers lost 3-1 to LSU on Friday, but it wasn’t the fault of 19-year-old Adley. The freshman catcher threw out two Tigers trying to steal.
The second play was a jaw-dropper. Rutschman scooped a pitch out of the dirt, shuffled his feet and fired to second to nail Cole Freeman with breath to spare.
“Goodness, that’s some kind of arm,” analyst Kyle Peterson told the ESPN audience. “This Oregon State coaching staff is raving about Adley Rutschman. Offensively, there’s still some steps to be taken, but this is a big league-ready arm right now.”
Grandpa Ad was watching in McMinnville, Oregon, where he was helping out at a Linfield College football camp.
“They haven’t fired me yet,” Rutschman said.
They wouldn’t dare. Linfield is where Rutschman became an NAIA icon. He’s the only college coach — at any level — to win national championships in baseball (1971) and football (’82, ’84 and ’86).
The first of those football titles came with a young defensive coordinator from Corvallis. You may have heard of him.
Riley’s first paid coaching job was at Linfield. He arrived in 1977 and stayed six years. Rutschman became his mentor.
“He’s actually the best teacher of sports technique that I’ve ever been around,” Riley told me in 2015.
“He taught guys how to play.
“How to hit, how to field, how to pitch, how to drive block, how to backpedal. He could teach it all. He was one guy in football that could coach any position. To this day, I admire that. There’s not many guys like that. I don’t claim to be that guy.”
In those days, Linfield coaches juggled multiple duties. Rutschman was the football coach, baseball coach and athletic director — he taught three classes, too. Riley assisted Rutschman in all three areas. He was Linfield’s junior varsity baseball coach. His wife, Dee, kept the scorebook.
“There wasn’t much of a crowd,” said Rutschman, who retired from full-time coaching in 1991. “And there wasn’t much publicity.”
(Nebraska’s connections with Linfield don’t stop with Riley. John Cook spent his first year of college in McMinnville before transferring home to San Diego; he remembers Rutschman. Same goes for Danny Langsdorf, who played quarterback for Linfield in 1994-95.)
So where does young Adley come into the picture? Ad Rutschman’s son Randy was a catcher on the ’71 national championship team. Randy became a coach himself — and the father of a spirited son.
You should’ve seen their Little League practices. Ad showed up an hour early to watch Randy drill the fundamentals. Adley couldn’t get enough.
“My golly, every time you turned around, he was after Randy to go someplace and hit,” Ad said.
That included Oregon State, where Randy aided the baseball program with catching instruction. No wonder Adley wanted to be a Beaver.
Baseball wasn’t his only gift. His senior year of high school, Adley drilled a 63-yard field goal in a playoff game.
One major-conference coach inquired about his football interest. Adley describes it like this:
“My high school football coach called me in his office one day and we were talking about stuff.
“At the very end, he’s like, ‘Oh, I forgot to tell you that about a week and a half ago, Mike Riley called me about you. I just told him that you’re gonna play baseball. Is that all right with you?’
“I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. I kinda wish you would’ve told me.’ ”
But Adley had already committed to Oregon State and he wasn’t backing out. He intended to play only baseball in college. Then last summer Gary Andersen invited him to fall camp. Rutschman won the kickoff job.
He experienced Husky Stadium in Seattle and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. At Stanford, he kicked to Christian McCaffrey.
Grandpa laughs about that one. In the fourth quarter, Adley pooched to McCaffrey, tackled him at the 37-yard line, then helped him up.
“I got tackled by the kicker?” McCaffrey told him. They patted each other on the butt.
“I can’t believe the experience he’s having as a freshman in college,” Ad said.
The past week is hard to beat. Adley’s starting for the No. 1 team in the country. Throwing out runners at second base. It was a thrill playing at the Rose Bowl, but the pressure-cooker of TD Ameritrade Park is “unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” His grandpa feels it, too.
“It’s so doggone exciting I can hardly wait from one ballgame to the next,” Ad said.
Who knows how far Adley goes from here? He may be kicking field goals for Oregon State this fall. He may be in the big leagues one day, just like Kyle Peterson said. But it’s going to be hard to match the legacy of his namesake.
“The dude’s in seven Hall of Fames,” Adley said.
That’s true, but Grandpa never won in Omaha.