Urbana University announced Tuesday that former Blue Knight baseball player Dick Heath (‘74) has been selected for induction into the UU Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremony planned for Saturday, Oct. 14, will coincide with the Blue Knight home football game against Notre Dame College (1 p.m. kickoff).
Heath becomes the 39th member to be enshrined and the fourth UU baseball player selected to the Hall of Fame. A native of Bellefontaine, Heath currently serves as Athletic Director at Lima Shawnee High School and holds over 40 years of experience in education and coaching.
Dave Ross, a 1976 UU graduate and 2006 Hall of Fame inductee, administered the nomination and selection process.
“Our great institution has become known for producing quality teachers and coaches during almost 50 years of granting bachelor’s degrees,” Ross said. “Dick Heath had a Hall of Fame Blue Knight baseball career, and has followed that with a performance that makes the entire university proud.
“We heard from both of his Urbana baseball coaches along with teammates. His current and former employers talked about his passion for teaching, coaching and athletics, along with his work ethic. I personally contacted the parent of a former student who raved about his teaching.”
From 1971 to 1974, Heath started at catcher for the Blue Knights under former head coaches Richard Hagan and Bob Cawley. He twice earned first-team all-conference recognition, while leading the Mid-Ohio Conference in batting average (.419) in 1974. He was voted team captain and most valuable player as a senior.
“He was always one of the leading hitters on our squad; and his skills of working with pitchers and his example of leadership behind the plate were qualities which made our team more competitive,” said Hagan.
Even more impressive, Heath excelled in the classroom as a comprehensive social studies major while working 40 hours a week at The Barton Candy Company in Bellefontaine. Heath’s former boss Jerry Ritter commented on the youngster’s prodigious ambition for a 2011 article in the Columbus Dispatch.
After college, Heath embarked on a long basketball-coaching career at the high school level. He went 323-207 in a run spanning 25 years. His coaching stops included Ashtabula Crestwood, Kent Roosevelt, Lima Shawnee and Lima Senior. His teams won six conference championships, 12 sectional titles, four district crowns and were regional finalists three times.
He has received six coach of the year and five teacher of the year awards during his time in coaching and education. Heath was inducted into the Bellefontaine High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Frequently, you will find him interacting with students, developing a personal relationship, listening to them and getting to know about their interests. Central to Dick’s success, as both a teacher and a coach, has been his unwavering commitment to the youth we serve,” said Don Wade, Interim Superintendent at Shawnee Schools.
Dick and his wife Mary, have three children: Derek, Dana and Heather. The couple has eight grandchildren.