Johnny Ritchey Breaking Barriers Scholarship nominations now open

Scholarship highlights Padres’ Black History Month initiatives

February 3rd, 2021

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Padres announced today that nominations are now open for the Johnny Ritchey Breaking Barriers Scholarship program. Created in 2020 to honor the legacy of Johnny Ritchey, the scholarship is annually awarded to a local high school senior from an underserved area that embodies the characteristics and qualities Ritchey displayed on and off the field including the capacity to overcome adversity and break barriers academically, athletically or in the community. Last year, the Padres honored Laila Williams from San Diego High School as the inaugural recipient.

Nominations can be submitted by visiting and will be due on February 28 with current high school seniors (Class of 2021) being eligible to participate. Nominees will be asked to submit an essay between 1,000-1,500 words describing how they have encountered, and overcome, personal barriers based on their real-life experiences. The winner will be announced on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball, and will receive a $5,000 scholarship towards the continuation of their education.

“We look forward to presenting this year’s Johnny Ritchey Scholarship Award to a promising and deserving student that embodies all of the qualities that Johnny stood for,” said the Ritchey family. We hope this annual award continues to keep his spirit alive.”

Ritchey, a San Diego native, broke the color barrier in the Pacific Coast League after being signed by his hometown team in 1948 and batted .323 in his rookie season. A San Diego High and San Diego State alum, Ritchey also served in the U.S. Army for 27 months during World War II as part of a combat engineering unit and saw service at the invasion of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the South West Pacific Theater earning five battle stars and rising to the rank of staff sergeant. The Padres unveiled a bust of Ritchey at Petco Park during the 2005 season.

In addition to the Johnny Ritchey Breaking Barriers Scholarship, the Padres will also be partnering with Maya’s Cookies, a locally owned Black-business, to provide cookies to volunteers at various COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites throughout San Diego County during the month of February. Launched in 2015 by owner Maya Madsen, Maya’s Cookies is now the number one Black-owned vegan cookie company throughout the United States.

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