By Thomas Sellers Jr.
And if home is where the heart is, for Ronnie Osborne Millington Central High School is an important residence. The former Millington Trojan Baseball coach from 1972-77 was back on the campus last week visiting assistant principals Beth Hale and Zane Adams.
Alongside Osborne was his wife Tonie to discuss the development of the Ronnie Osborne Scholarship. For the next six baseball seasons, the Osborne family will award $1,500 to a returning Millington Baseball senior with two or more years’ on the team.
“What we might try to do is incorporate it with our Senior Night so we’ll have a baseball game to recognize our seniors and recognize (the winner) at that game as the scholarship recipient,” Adams said. “We can honor it at our annual banquet.”
Adams recently stepped down from the Millington Baseball head coach position to join the MCHS administration. But as a former player as well, Adams was on board with Hale meeting with Osborne in recent weeks to formulate the scholarship.
“Those guys need to be rewarded,” Osborne said. “Hopefully this will serve as a little kick start to get them going so they can work and earn their tuition as school goes on. And hopefully it leads to them getting a degree.”
Hale said Osborne’s effort is greatly appreciated by the school and the future recipients will echo that sentiment.
“It’s more of a kick start than you think it is,” Hale told Osborne. “They get Tennessee Promise and the HOPE scholarship. Add this to it, we’re covering about a semester to a semester and half of school. For some of them, that’s enough encouragment to help them proceed.
“This is really appreciated because the kids work hard,” she added. “And Millington is a hard working community. We need more local scholarships to recognize our children and inspire them.”
Osborne is still coaching — wanting his former players who have succeeded in life to match or surpass his efforts down the line.
Osborne and his players enjoyed championship success in 1977. Those Trojans were the first in school history to reach the State semifinals. The Trojans finished 25-7 that year.
That success paved a way for Osborne to join the coaching staff at Mississippi State University.
“I had a good coach in life,” he said. “I spent about 10 years in the SEC. The only bad part was it didn’t last long enough. I won a Southeastern Conference championship on a team, coached a lot of All-Americans. I would like to think I had a little bit to do with that.
“Went to the College World Series twice, and that would not have been possible if I didn’t get this job,” Osborne continued. “If Bill Osteen does not hire me, I got a chance to cut my coaching teeth. This was my first coaching job. If I don’t get this job here, the first couple of years I was here was tough. We only beat a few people. Then I kind of figure it out and the last couple of years were pretty good.”
William “Mr. Bill” Osteen hired Osborne in 1971. That was the key to opening the door to Coach Osborne calling Millington home.
“Coaching and athletics, it is hard for us who have been in it our whole life to say goodbye,” he said. “I had to say goodbye 30 years ago. Now it is at the point it’s time for me to say ‘Thank you.’ I want to thank this high school for giving me that opportunity.
“This the way I can show the appreciation for the chance Mr. Osteen gave me,” Osborne concluded. “I like to say, I was the last guy he hired. It was a great time for me and great training ground for me.”