Coach Wendel Ridlehoover, who led the Winder-Barrow High School baseball team to the school’s first-ever athletic state title, died Sept. 26, according to one of his former players, current Winder city councilman Sonny Morris.
Ridlehoover, who had been living in Florida, was 87.
Ridlehoover guided Winder-Barrow to a 14-5 record in 1960, and the team went 3-0 in the GHSA Class A state tournament in Thomaston to win the championship. The Bulldoggs shut out Pepperell 6-0, defeated Milton 7-4 and then beat Pepperell again, 6-4, to claim the title.
Winder-Barrow had finished as state runner-up the previous season under Ridlehoover and went on to log top-four finishes the following two seasons under the late Charlie Horne. The team won 47 games during that four-year run. The Bulldoggs won their second state championship in 1979 and finished as runner-up in 1980 and 1991.
The 1960 team’s 14 victories were a school record at the time and stood until the 1978 team won 16 games.
Morris, then a sophomore, was the winning pitcher in all three of the state tournament games in 1960. Morris, who went on to pitch in the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox organizations, went 11-1 that year, a school record for wins that stood until Tim Barnette went 15-1 for the 1979 championship team.
“(Ridlehoover) was a great, great coach and a great man,” Morris said Monday, Sept. 30.