Although his life was cut short by tragedy, former Pan American University (now UTRGV) centerfielder Jody Ramsey symbolized the best of baseball and life, capturing our imagination with his exploits on and off the field.
Recruited from San Jacinto College by Coach Ogletree, who coached from 1968 to 1997, Freeport’s Ramsey was among the finest athletes and human beings to ever compete as a Bronc since Edinburg Junior College established its first baseball team in 1927.
Unfortunately, Jody, a senior, had his better days ahead when at an instant tragedy struck.
The 1973 season was scheduled to begin on Feb. 23 against Baylor, but rain forced the game to be postponed until the next day, Saturday.
While getting the field ready, Ramsey and teammate, Tommy Simpson picked up an irrigation pipe, which passed close to an overhead power line.
Ramsey was killed and Simpson taken to the hospital to be treated for his burns. Simpson survived, but not without emotional scars.
Coach Ogletree told the McAllen Monitor: “He was the American kid. He put his heart and soul into this team. Having to call his parents and tell them he had died was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
I’d be remiss if I did not mention that Tommy was an exceptional athlete at McAllen High School. Earning All-District honors in baseball, he was later a second-team selection of the Rio Grande Valley All-Millennium squad.
Simpson was inducted into the UTRGV Hall of Fame in 2015—following Jody in 2013.
UTRGV had this to say about Jody Ramsey: “While he was very impressive on the field, Ramsey was equally outstanding in his character and standard of living.”
Ramsey was a proponent of the Pan American University chapter of Fellowship Christian Athletes, twice elected as president.
In his honor the university will reinstate the Jody Ramsey Memorial Award—given to a senior baseball player “who best follows the standards set by the late Jody Ramsey.”
His name will forever be etched in Bronc baseball history—he will never be forgotten, especially by his teammates, and the legions of friends he left behind.
So, if you want to keep Jody’s dream alive…play catch with your kid!
As I always say: “Once a Bronc always a Bronc!”
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Rio Grande Valley historian and writer René Torres. Torres was a Bronc centerfielder from 1966 to 1969. The above column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Torres can be reached by email via: [email protected]
Editor’s Note: Excerpts in this guest column were taken from the McAllen Monitor and Pan Am baseball programs, with research by Piky Rodriguez.
Editor’s Note: February 24, 2023, marks the 50th anniversary of Jody Ramsey’s death. On February 17, 2023, UTRGV will retire Ramsey’s number 6 jersey before a home game against Houston Christian (formerly Houston Baptist).
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