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Rich Ashcroft

All Around ∙ South Side

 

 

 

 

One of the most gifted and versatile athletes in the history of Beaver County was also one of the least known. Rich Ashcroft became legendary for his exploits in the late 1950s. Since South Side were Class B at the time and played mostly schools from Ohio and West Virginia, the rest of Beaver County did not get the opportunity to see him in action. Rich started as offensive and defensive back in football, earning first team All Section and All WPIAL honors his senior year. He also starred in basketball, scoring 903 points for his career with a single game high of 34. Rich was a four year letterman in baseball, but since All Star teams did not exist at that time for high school, he did not receive a lot of recognition. However, he was well known locally in the summer leagues for his hitting and for his uncanny ability to play at any position despite being left handed. Wichita State University came calling with a football scholarship, and Rich immediately became a starting defensive back. He started for the Missouri Valley Conference champions in the 1961 Sun Bowl against Villanova. Although he could not play baseball in college because of his football commitment, Rich continued to play locally in the summer. But when the football coach at Wichita resigned and the Minnesota Twins offered a substantial bonus, Rich accepted and entered the Twins’ farm system. In the Carolina League, he played against future major leaguers Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins, Jerry Koosman, Al Oliver, Bob Robertson, Larry Bowa, Bob Watson, and Bobby Bonds. In 1969, Rich returned to his alma mater as a teacher and coach, where he coached football for 19 years, with the team being WPIAL runners-up to Rochester in 1991. Rich also coached baseball, boys' and girls' basketball, and track and field.