Raymond Joseph Ryan Sr.
- High School Hayden (IN) High School
One of 14 children of Denis Joseph Ryan and Mary Frances "Molly" Root, Catcher Ray Ryan (Raymond Joseph "Ray" Ryan Sr.) was born on February 18, 1883 in St. Martin OH. He married Cora Emaline Dapore on June 14, 1911, in Versailles, OH and they had eight children, only four of whom lived to adulthood. He attended school in Cincinnati, OH and graduated from Hayden (IN) High School.
In a baseball career that spanned nearly 60 years (1901-1956), Ryan was a significant minor league player, manager and owner. Ryan was inducted into the Salem Roanoke, Virginia Baseball Hall of Fame on January 30, 2014.
His baseball career began in 1901, while employed by the William S. Merrill Chemical Company in Cincinnati, OH. He played baseball during the summer for eight years for: Newark and Ashland, OH (1901-02); Greensburg, IN and Sydney, OH (1903-04); Welch, WV (1905); Greensboro, NC, Wheeling, WV, Lima, OH and Auburn, IN. He made his debut with an official minor league club with the 1906 Lancaster Lanks, hitting .197 and fielded .980 in 36 games. He threw right-handed and batted left-handed.
He spent 1907 and 1908 with the Danville Red Sox, hitting .240 the first year and .242 the next. In 1909, he played with the Roanoke Tigers, batting .213 and slugging .253 for the Virginia League pennant winners. Following the 1909 season, he was signed by the Chicago White Sox of the American League and went to spring training - one of the first held in the major leagues, in Los Angeles, CA in 1910 - the first year the team played at Comiskey Park. After 16 major league games and not having appeared in any, he was traded to the minor league Birmingham Barons, hitting .208 over the remainder of the campaign. His son Joe Ryan Sr. considered 1909 as his father's best year and 1910 as his worst year as a player.
Ryan remained in minor league baseball the rest of his life as a player-manager, manager, general manager, owner and league president. His career continued in: Youngstown, OH, Meridian, MS and Charlotte, NC (1911). He was a manager-catcher for the Chillicothe Infants of the Ohio State League, hitting .219 and slugging .271 in 38 games. He batted .183 and slugged .244 for the Springfield Reapers and South Bend Benders in 28 contests for the rest of 1912.
He managed for the 1913 Wheeling Stogies of the Interstate League until the league disbanded and then moved to the Norfolk Tars of the Virginia League (.326 in 19 games for Norfolk). He played for the 1914 Richmond Colts, hitting .216 and slugging .256 in 64 games and managed them into second place. He then moved to the Rocky Mount Carolinians in 1915 and piloted them to the Virginia League title his first year at the reigns. He hit .198 in 50 games, then fell to .150 in 49 games in 1916, his last as a regular player.
From 1918-1920, Ray was a Chrysler automobile dealer in Welch, WV. Then he became part-owner and manager of the Richmond Colts team of the Virginia League in 1921. He was a catcher for the Syracuse Stars (10 games) and also served as a scout for the Cleveland Indians team in 1922.
He resumed his automobile dealership business at Oak Hill, WV (1923) and operated a gas station and a local commuter busline as well. He was a member of the Oak Hill Chamber of Commerce and owned a farm in Clermont County, OH. His baseball career resumed for two years at Scarboro, WV (1923-25), where he was manager for the Oak Hill team (1926-30). He was general manager at Erie, PA (1931-33). He was owner-manager of the Jeannette Reds of the Pennsylvania State Association (1934); Allentown Brooks of the New York-Penn League (1935); and McKeesport Tubers of the Pennsylvania State Association (1936).
In 1937, Ryan organized both the Mountain State League and Appalachian League and served as president of both leagues in 1938. In 1939, he organized the Virginia League and served as president of three leagues simultaneously for two years. He continued as president of the Mountain State and Virginia Leagues until 1941. He played for the Logan Indians of the Mountain State League (1942).
At the end of World War II in 1947, Ryan resumed his baseball career as a scout for his son Joe with the Miami Beach Flamingos. Then he was business manager, manager, general manager, or owner-manager for: the Palatka Azaleas of the Florida State League (1948); Lakeland, FL (1948-49); Estherville, FL? (1950); Tallahassee Citizens (1951, made it to league championship); Fort Lauderdale, FL and Key West, FL (1952); Tallahassee, FL (1953) and Greenville, SC (1954). He worked all the next year with his son Joe to promote the Miami Marlins to a AAA team in the International League (1955). Ryan ended his career with the Marlins as a scout for his son Joe, who was promoted to team general manager (1956).
Ryan died at age 75 at his daughter's Florida home on August 8, 1958 at midnight. He is buried at Flagler Memorial Park cemetery in Miami, FL. Ryan's baseball career spanned some 60 years and included 41 teams, 22 of which he led.
Featured in the famous T206 baseball card set as a member of the Roanoke Tigers, he caught all but two games for the 1909 pennant winners. His T206 baseball card is pictured on this page. It was printed in 1909. The T206 baseball card series includes the most valuable baseball card of all time, that of Honus Wagner. Ryan also has a E222 Caramels 1909 baseball card from Virginia, which is even more valuable than the T206 baseball card.
Much of the information above is provided by Ray Ryan's granddaughter, Nancy Foye-Cox of Akron, OH. Information was also taken from an article Nancy wrote for "History and Families of Brown County OH" and published by the Brown County OH Historical Society in 1992 and a biography of Raymond J. Ryan from "West Virginia In History, Life, Literature and Industry," published by The Lewis Publishing Company in 1928.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record