In San Diego, a Scholarship Honors a Local Legend

By Ian A. Stewart

While relatively new fans know the name Johnny Ritchey, the San Diego-born ballplayer who broke the Pacific Coast League’s color barrier in 1948 left as important a mark on the game as almost anyone. Now, his hometown team is aiming to honor that legacy—with an assist from the California Masonic Foundation.

This spring, on what would have been the 100th anniversary of the trailblazing Ritchey’s birth, the Foundation announced the formation of a new scholarship program, given in partnership with the San Diego Padres and the college readiness nonprofit Reality Changers of San Diego, named after the former catcher, who played for the then-minor league Padres in 1948 and 1949, a year after Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color barrier. 

The scholarship provides up to 10 gifts worth $10,000 each to students pursuing higher education who have overcome significant personal adversity. 

“Honoring the achievements of Johnny Ritchey by rewarding young people who have demonstrated grit, determination, and courage is what this scholarship is all about,” says Doug Ismail, president of the Foundation. 

“We’re thrilled to partner with two great teams—the Padres and Reality Changers—to make this happen for our community.”

San Diego Padres/JR Sheetz

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