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Ragsdale able to garner attention even amongst stars

Dick Ragsdale was surrounded by so many outstanding athletes at Medford High that he rarely found himself in the spotlight until his senior year.

Ragsdale died unexpectedly in his adopted city of Skillman, N.J., on September 10 at the age of 77.

A quarterback in football, a guard in basketball and an infielder in baseball, Ragsdale earned first-team all-conference accolades in each sport by the time he graduated in the spring of 1961. His top performances came as a senior, but Ragsdale was nonetheless a solid contributor when the Black Tornado captured state championships in football, basketball and baseball during the 1959-60 school year.

Ragsdale earned a scholarship to Stanford and became a standout defensive back for the Cardinal. Following the 1964 season, he landed a berth in the East-West Shrine Game, where he was joined by Lowell Dean, a former Tornado teammate who played collegiately at Oregon. Joining them on the West squad was future NFL Hall of Fame halfback Gale Sayers of Kansas, while East squad adversaries included two other Hall of Famers — quarterback Roger Staubach of Navy and linebacker Dick Butkus of Illinois.

That’s some talented company.

Much has been written about the Black Tornado’s “triple crown” accomplishment — no other large-classification school has been able to win state titles in the three major sports during the same school year.

But Medford High was no slouch the following year, either, when Ragsdale was a senior. It went unbeaten in football during the regular season and was ranked No.1 entering the state playoffs. Following a 47-6 romp over South Eugene in the state quarterfinals, Axeman coach Loyd Amick said, “I don’t see how anybody can beat them. That’s the fastest club I’ve ever seen.”

But on a rain-soaked Medford Stadium turf the following week, fourth-ranked David Douglas capitalized on four lost Tornado fumbles and posted a stunning 20-14 victory, ending Medford’s 22-game winning streak.

In basketball, the Tornado surged to the state championship game for the second straight year, only to drop a 66-64 squeaker to conference rival Klamath Union. Ragsdale had 18 points in the title game and was named first-team all-tournament, as was teammate Bob Quinney, the tournament’s leading scorer (22.3 average) and rebounder (13.5).

After earning his undergraduate degree at Stanford, Ragsdale picked up his law degree at the same school. He then tackled a different activity — rugby — and found his way into the Stanford Hall of Fame in that sport.

After serving in the U.S. Army for three years, Ragsdale went into law practice in New Jersey, focusing on commercial litigation, real estate and First Amendment law. He continued to practice nearly all the way until his death.

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