“Somewhere along life’s way, I hope there has been a time that I was able to help you. If I have helped you, then, maybe my life has been worthwhile.” Don Richardson from his autobiography Fodder On The Ground.
This is a story that no one ever wants to write, it’s a story of great sadness that someone who meant so much to so many has passed away, but the truth is that anyone who went to Madison Central from the 1960’s through the mid 1990’s you knew Coach Richardson. If you were lucky enough to play for Coach you have the impression of him, You know all his go to sayings, and most importantly you loved him and you know he loved you.
Don Richardson played for Madison Central and went to Eastern Kentucky to play baseball for Coach Turkey Hughes. He played three seasons for the Maroons but after his junior season he joined the Army. He left EKU with a 22-7 pitching record and would be elected to the EKU Sports Hall Of Fame in 2019.
After the military he came home to Madison Central and he would spend 35 seasons as head baseball coach and basketball coach. During his tenure as head basketball coach Richardson would lead the Indians to 350 victories in 16 seasons as Head Coach and the school’s first ever Sweet Sixteen appearance in 1987. That year as a first time participant they reached the final four of the state where they fell to Clay County who was led by future unforgettable Kentucky Wildcat Richie Farmer. Look at the final four that season, Clay County of course, Paintsville led by another future unforgettable Kentucky Wildcat John Pelphrey, and Ballard led by future NBA player Allan Houston. Coach never won the 11th region again as basketball coach but he laid the foundation for the teams that followed, the region was put on notice that Madison Central was going to be a team to take notice of.
Don Richardson is mostly known throughout the state of Kentucky as a legendary baseball coach. His best team was in 1982 when the Indians won 40 games without losing any. That year USA Today crowned the Indians National Champions. Don Richardson led the Indians to 8 State Tournaments and was named Kentucky Baseball Coach of the Year in back to back seasons (1982 & 1983) and National Baseball Coach Of The Year in 1986.
If there is a Baseball Hall Of Fame in Kentucky Coach Richardson is in it. He was elected to the Kentucky Baseball Coaches Hall Of Fame in 1998 and the KHSAA Hall Of Fame in 2001. If and when there is a Madison Central Hall Of Fame he will defiantly be a first ballot Hall Of Famer there as well.
Coach Richardson finished his coaching career with a record of 952-157. Those 952 wins place Coach as the 6th winningest coach in Kentucky baseball history and his winning percentage of 86% is still the best ever. If you would ask Don what his biggest accomplishment was at Madison Central he would talk about his players and students he taught. He once told me as a young coach at Madison Central in 1998 that as a coach you are only as good as your players but the most important part of coaching is to teach your players how to be great young men and women. At the end of the day no one will remember wins and losses but they will remember how you treated them and helped them.
It’s not a goodbye Don, it’s a see you later on that big baseball diamond in Heaven. Thank you for your kindness, your friendship, your advice, and most importantly for making everyone you knew feel like family.