Al Ritchie
Coach Al Ritchie.jpg
Ritchie as coach of the Roughriders, c. 1920s
Nickname(s)The Silver Fox
Born:(1890-12-12)December 12, 1890
Cobden, Ontario
Died:February 21, 1966(1966-02-21) (aged 75)
Regina, Saskatchewan
Career history
As administrator
c.1918–c.1922Victoria Senior Hockey Team
1921–1928Regina Rugby Club/Regina Roughriders
1923–c.1930Regina Pats
As coach
1923–c.1930 (Hockey), 1925–? (Football)Regina Pats
1928–1932, 1935, 1942Regina Roughriders
As player
c.1910–c.1915Saskatchewan Rugby Team
As scout
1933–1966New York Rangers
Career highlights and awards
  • 2× Western Canada Hockey champion (1921, 1922)
  • 8× Western Canada Football champion (1923, 1926–1932)
  • Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1964)
  • Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1966)
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders Plaza of Honor
Career stats

Alvin Horace "The Silver Fox" Ritchie (December 12, 1890 – February 21, 1966) was a Canadian football player, coach, administrator as well as ice hockey coach who was the head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1928 to 1932, 1935, and in 1942. He had many accomplishments and honors, including being named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (as a charter member), Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. The Al Ritchie Memorial Stadium, Al Ritchie Arena, and Al Ritchie Neighborhood are named in his honor. In addition to coaching the Roughriders, he was their manager in most of the 1920s, while coaching the Regina Pats football and hockey teams (being the only person to win the championship in both sports), while at the same time being a scout for the New York Rangers, which he did from the 1933 until his death in 1966. From about 1918 to about 1922, he was the coach of the Victoria Senior Hockey team, leading them to the championship in 1921 and in 1922. While coaching and managing the Roughriders from 1928 to 1932, they made the Grey Cup each season, but lost in all 5 matches. Ritchie was also player for a Saskatchewan rugby team in the 1910s before serving in World War I. While playing in the 1910s, he was a player-coach in baseball, hockey and lacrosse.

Early life and playing career

Al Ritchie was born on December 12, 1890 in Cobden, Ontario. He played football for a Saskatchewan football team in the 1910s while serving as a player coach in baseball, hockey, and lacrosse.[1][2] He then went into World War I and served as an artilleryman.[3]

Coaching career

Victoria Senior Hockey Team

After returning from World War I, Ritchie continued to coach hockey and football. His first position after the War was as a coach for the Victoria Senior Hockey team in the Manitoba Hockey League.[4] He led them to championships in 1921 and 22.

Regina Pats

From 1923 to about 1930, he was the coach for the Regina Pats hockey team.[5][3] He helped create the Regina Pats football team and led them to the championship in 1928.[6] He led their hockey team to Memorial Cup championships in 1925 and 1930.[3] He is the only person to ever win the championship in both hockey and football. He also was their team manager.

Regina Rugby Club/Roughriders

While he was the coach of the Victoria Hockey team, he became the general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (then known as the Regina Rugby Club). He led the Roughriders to Western Championships in 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, and 1932. They made the Grey Cup five consecutive years from 1928 to 1932, the years Ritchie was head coach, and lost all five games.[7] Ritchie retired in 1932, but then unretired and continued coaching.[8] He then retired again in 1933, but returned in 1935. He retired a third time in 1936, but made one final return in 1942.[1] At one point the Roughriders had 56 consecutive wins while Ritchie was coach.[3] He was later inducted into the Roughriders' plaza of honor.

Later life and death

At the end of his coaching career, he became a scout for the New York Rangers, and was a scout from 1933 until his death in 1966.[3] From the 1920s until 1956, he worked for the Federal Department of Customs.[3] In 1956, he was honored by the council of the Winnipeg Football Club. They said "While many Canadian football operators, whether it is a team, a club or a league, require a considerable number of men, there at times emerges a single man in such operators who seems to symbolize the spirit of football across Canada. Such a man is Alvin Horace Ritchie."[9] In 1963, he was a charter member for the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.[1] In 1964, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He died on February 21, 1966 in Regina, Saskatchewan after a battle with cancer.[10] He was posthumously inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.[11][2]

Legacy

Many tributes were made to Ritchie after his death, including by: Vern DeGreer, Jack Wells, Bill Good, Hal Pawson, Jack Matheson, Hal Walker, and Jim Coleman.[12] Athol Murray, one of Ritchie's friends, said that he was "The Knute Rockne of Canada".[13] In March of 1966, there was a unanimous vote to name a building in Saskatchewan the "Al Ritchie Memorial Centre".[14] There later was a neighborhood in Regina named after him.[15] It had a population of about 8,000 in 2016.[16] Multiple buildings in the neighborhood were also named after him, they included the: Core Ritchie Neighbourhood Centre, Al Ritchie Wellness Centre, Al Ritchie Community Association,[17] and Al Ritchie Arena.[15]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Al "Silver Fox" Ritchie".
  2. ^ a b "Alvin "Al" Ritchie".
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Ritchie, Alvin Horace (1890–1966)". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.
  4. ^ "SELKIRKS WILL PLAY VICTORIAS HERE THURSDAY". The Leader-Post. March 13, 1920 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Al. Ritchie Will Direct Uniteds In Regina Ice Effort". The Vancouver Sun. October 11, 1929 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Noted sportsman, Al Ritchie dies, 75". The Leader-Post. February 22, 1966 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Al Ritchie". The Ottawa Citizen. December 15, 1930 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ ""AL" RITCHIE RETIRES FROM ROUGHRIDERS". Calgary Herald. August 26, 1932 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Tribute to Ritchie". The Leader-Post. September 21, 1956 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "CANCER CLAIMS LIFE OF REGINA SPORTSMAN". Calgary Herald. February 22, 1966 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Alvin Horace 'Al' Ritchie". The Leader-Post. December 31, 2002 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Tributes to Ritchie". The Leader-Post. February 23, 1966 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "Ritchie likened to Knute Rockne". The Leader-Post. February 22, 1966 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "RITCHIE MEMORIAL CENTRE". The Leader-Post. March 30, 1966 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ a b Association, Al Ritchie Community. "Neighbourhood Profile". alritchie.ca.
  16. ^ "Al Ritchie Neighborhood Profile" (PDF). www.regina.ca.
  17. ^ Association, Al Ritchie Community. "Al Ritchie Community Association". alritchie.ca.