Richard Rucker grew up on a rural Mississippi cattle farm with his sights set on becoming an educator. His love of history and politics earned him both a Bachelor of Arts in social studies and an Master in educational administration from Mississippi State. A job fair brought him to Highlands County and a 36-year career as a teacher and administrator, mostly in Avon Park and Lake Placid.
He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school and followed the St. Louis Cardinals and favorite player Stan Musial on radio KMOX.
“I never played organized softball until my pastor at First Presbyterian Church suggested I join the Lake Placid league to better meet the community,” Rucker recalled. “Great comradeship with a touch of competition.”
A top notch shortstop, Rucker also serves as the league’s secretary-treasurer.
On Monday, Rucker’s Lake Placid Marine team fell to Anderson Group 23-7. Elston Hedges homered for the winners and was ably supported by a Four Hit Club of Don Dobbit (three doubles), Ted Griffith (triple, two doubles) and Bill Todd (two doubles). Dick Cook’s over-the-shoulder catch and throw for a double play was the defensive gem of the game.
Yates Insurance edged Central Security 17-14 for its 11th straight win. Winning pitcher Dale Smith logged five hits and Dan Rasmussen added four for the winners. The Yates defense sparkled with a short-second-first-home triple play to kill a Central rally. Todd Martin homered for The Securitymen, while Dana Hurlbut and Chet Johnson (triple) tallied four hits each.
Vincent’s Pizza defeated Seminole Tire 18-13. Ron Kilburn homered for the Pizzamen, while Norm Grubbs (double) and Bill Scrase (three doubles) had four hits apiece. Skip Raller, playing his last game before kidney stone surgery, had four hits for the ‘Noles.
Wednesday games were playing with a swirling wind that turned normal defensive plays into a Shakespearean Comedy of Errors. For Yates (11-1) it was a Shakespearean tragedy with Vincent’s Pizza (9-3) thumping The Insurers by a 39-25 score. Fourteen walks were the Yates’ downfall. Bill Scrase (HR) had five hits for the Pizzamen. “Wild Bill” DeStefano (double, triple) and Lee Maule (two doubles) paced Yates with five hits, while Tom Ashley and Otto Riley added four hits each.
Anderson Group (5-7) completed a winning week with a 21-12 triumph over Seminole Tire (2-10). Elston Hedges (two doubles) and Bill Todd each collected five hits, with Dick Cook (double) and Ted Griffith (double) contributing four hits apiece. Larry Laux had five hits for the ‘Noles. Paul Brand and Jeff Stanley each notched four hits.
Brian Heaphy’s walk-off hit plated Jim Hensley (four walks — remember the wind) with the winning run as Lake Placid Marine (5-7) outlasted Central Security (4-8) 26-25. Joe Hedges (double, triple) paced The Mariners with five hits. Heaphy (double), Ed Engler, Rucker (three doubles), Victor Rodriguez (double), Pat Lowe and Rick Enfelis formed the Mariner Four Hit Club. The Central FHC included Mike Kratt, Dana Hurlbut and Paul Marcellus.
For further league information, please visit lpsoftball.com.