By Cliff Nichols
Times West Virginian
Ronnie Retton — from Fairview High School to West Virginia University to professional baseball — was a sparkplug to team success.
He was part of two state championship teams at Fairview, was a member of WVU’s 1958-59 Jerry West-led national runner-up basketball team, and was a player in the New York Yankees’ baseball organization for six years.
Mickey Furfari, in his seventh decade covering WVU sports, recalls Retton, the newest member of the Times West Virginian Marion County Sports Hall of Fame, as a 5-7, 150-pound guard who played 1,149 minutes over 82 games during his WVU basketball career. He and the late Marvin “Bucky” Bolyard excelled as a dogging duo in the pressing defense.
“Ronnie and Bucky were really fun to be around,” West was quoted in a wvusports.com article on that Golden Era of WVU basketball. “They were very, very competitive kids. Just because they were fun-loving doesn’t mean that they were not competitive.”
“Coach (Fred) Schaus would put us in when he wanted to speed the tempo,” Retton recalled during a 50th anniversary reunion of the 1959 Mountaineers. “We were about the first NCAA Division I team to use that defense. Coach got it from (the late) Neal Baisi (then coach at West Virginia Tech).”
Retton, a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame 2010 class, earned three basketball varsity letters from 1957-59 and served as co-captain of the 1959 team that fell 71-70 to California in the national championship game. He scored 294 career points, a 3.6 average. Retton had 105 rebounds and 104 assists during his career, averaged 14 minutes per game and shot 71.9 percent (100-of-139) from the free-throw line.