RAVENSWOOD - It's hard to find anyone who doesn't look forward to spring.
Doug Parrish may be the exception. At least in 2013.
For the first time in his adult life, Parrish will not be a part of something that has served as both an occupation and passion for nearly 40 years – coaching baseball.
Last fall, with little fanfare, Parrish stepped down as the head baseball coach at Ravenswood High School. It's a program he guided for 36 seasons, starting in 1977. Before taking over Red Devil baseball, Parrish served for three years an an assistant to Larry Rawlings.
No one loves the game any more than Parrish. But the one-time Ripley High athlete felt the time had come to move on.
"We just weren't getting the kids to come out," said Parrish, who retired from teaching a few years ago. "I felt it was time to let someone else have a go at it. The numbers had really fallen off."
As disappointing as the past few seasons have been for Parrish from a participation standpoint, he should look back over all of his time leading Red Devil baseball with a broad smile across his face. After all, there were plenty of highs.
"We had some really good players, kids and teams come through (the program)," said Parrish, who lives outside of Ripley near Frozen Camp.
Parrish's career as Ravenswood's head coach started in successful fashion. His Red Devils battled for the state championship in that 1977 season, falling 5-4 to South Charleston at Blackwell Field (now Triana) on the campus of Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston).
The season of 1977 marked the final time that baseball would all be played in one class. The next year the sport featured two classes and now has three.
"We had to go through a lot of good teams just to get there (the state championship)," said Parrish. "We had some really good pitchers like Tim Tidd, Jim Thompson and Dave Sullivan. We had a great catcher in Bob Snyder, who was a natural leader. We had a good infield with Rick Hardy and Greg Keffer. That team had so much chemistry. A lot of those kids had played football and won the (Class AA) state championship in the fall (of 1976)."
Parrish had three other teams reach the State Tournament, including the 1985 squad which was led by future Major League pitcher Paul Fletcher. That talented Devil team lost in the semifinals.
Ravenswood returned to Watt Powell in 1992 and again fell in the semifinals. The Red Devils made their way back to the capital city on the right arm of pitcher Wes Swain, who went on to enjoy a fine career at West Virginia State College. Swain, by the way, is set to move into the role as head coach for Red Devil baseball.
Finally in 1999, Parrish took the Devils to the top of Class AA baseball with a 6-2 victory over Scott in the state title game. Luke Salmons, a terrific three-sport athlete, was the winning pitcher that day. Salmons, who started two years on the offensive line at Marshall, is now an up-and-coming high school football coach at Cabell Midland.
The Red Devils defeated Richwood in the semifinals, thanks to a three-hitter by Brian Archer, who went on to play college baseball at both West Virginia State and Alderson-Broaddus.
The Devils of '99 were stockpiled with several other talented players like Ricky Wolfe, Dan Curry, Jack Greene and Chris Claudio.
"That was an outstanding bunch, it all came together for us," said Parrish, who leaves with 556 career wins.
Parrish's love for baseball was easy to come by. The sport runs deep within his family. "I had a great-great grandfather who played. He was a catcher. He caught with a work glove. My whole family just played the game of baseball and had a passion and love for it," said Parrish, who graduated from Ripley High in 1962.
After high school Parrish, who possessed great speed in his younger days, headed to Marshall to run track. He later transferred to West Virginia State to play baseball for the Yellow Jackets. "I could play about anywhere, but I really loved shortstop," he said.
Parrish had the pleasure of coaching his only son, Eric, during his time at Ravenswood. "That was real enjoyable," said Parrish. "He was a good fielder and really came on toward the end with his stick (bat)."
Eric Parrish is the father of three children. Parrish's daughter, Susan, is an art teacher at Wahama High School.
In addition to Fletcher, who stood on the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies, Parrish also tutored Larry Carter, who pitched in the big leagues for the San Francisco Giants and has gone on to a fine coaching career professionally, as a Red Devil. Carter graduated from Ravenswood in 1984.
"You'd like to feel you had a part in their success," said the likeable Parrish.
Besides those two, several other Red Devils moved on to the collegiate ranks to continue playing baseball.
Parrish, who has endured eight surgeries through the years, hopes he's not done with the sport.
"I may land on my feet somewhere," he said. "As a coach, I tried to impart a love for the game (to his players). I just tried to instill in them to give the game your best, because it's a great game."
Individuals like Doug Parrish have helped make it that way.