5.6 richardson

Model coach Beverly Dezarn talks with assistant coach Don Richardson during a 2006 game in Richmond. Richardson spent 35 years as the head baseball coach at Madison Central, but returned to coaching in 2006 for one year to help out his old friend, Dezarn.

The picture hasn't been photoshopped or altered in any way.

It's real.

And yes, that's Don Richardson.

And yes, he is wearing a Model Laboratory hat and uniform.

There's a great story behind that old, grainy photo.

Richardson led the Madison Central baseball program to more than 950 wins and a state championship (1982) during his 35 seasons at the school.

He retired in 1992.

However, he made his return to dugout 14 years later at the request of an old friend.

Beverly Dezarn was an assistant basketball coach for almost 20 years under Richardson at Madison Central.

Dezarn retired in 1987, but somewhat reluctantly agreed to take over the Model baseball program a decade later.

In 2006, he was reunited with Richardson.

“I think I owed (Beverly),” Richardson said in 2006. “He helped me for years out at Madison Central. He’s been after me for a while, so I figured why not. Some of the boys talked to me and wanted me to come and I thought maybe if I could help them out, I’d be glad to do that.”

Richardson agreed to take a position as an unpaid assistant at Model.

The duo gave the Patriots perhaps one of the most veteran baseball staffs in state history. Richardson was 74 at the time and Dezarn was 69 — and between them they, had more than 80 years of coaching experience.

"We can still relate to these kids,” Dezarn said in 2006. “You have to change a little with the times, because times change and you coach a little bit differently then you did 25 years ago. Basically, coaching doesn’t change, but your approach to the game does.”

Richardson and Dezarn only spent one year together at Model.

It was very special, though.

The Patriots had a 17-11 record heading into the 44th District Tournament.

In the first round, they were set to face Madison Central — at the facility that would later be renamed Don Richardson Field.

It was, of course, an awkward moment for Richardson.

“That will be a tough thing in a way,” Richardson said prior to the match-up with Central. “I’ll always love those people, but now I’m at Model and I’m going to use every fiber I know to help (us) win the game. I couldn’t be there 35 years and not have good feelings about those young people.”

On May 23, 2006, Richardson faced his former team.

The Indians had a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.

Tyler Ratliff singled and Nick Dunaway laid down a bunt before Jeff Johnson reached on an error. A walk to Michael Derringer loaded the bases.

Davis Wells delivered the game-winning hit moments later. He ripped a shot deep into the hole at shortstop and beat out the throw at first, while Johnson never broke stride, scoring from second on the play.

It was Model's first-ever — and still only — win over Madison Central.

"I'm so proud of these guys," Dezarn said after the game. "We were down to our last breath and we got the job done. It's something these kids will never forget."

The Patriots lost to Madison Southern, 7-1, in the 2006 district title game and were blasted 18-1 in the opening round of the 11th Region Tournament by Henry Clay.

Dezarn and Richardson did not return to the Model Laboratory dugout the next season.

They went back into retirement — triumphantly.

There were so many memorable moments in Richardson's coaching career.

Almost all of them happened long before I was hired by the Richmond Register.

So, when I heard the sad news late on Saturday evening that Richardson had passed away at the age of 88, it was that old picture from 14 years ago that came into my mind.

That photo is just a small snapshot taken from the amazing story of one of the most beloved sports figures in the history of Madison County.

Just one moment.

One image. Unaltered. Unchanged.

Here's a link to The Register original story about Richardson and Dezarn, which was published on May 18, 2006


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