Washington High School senior Ryan Schwartz on Tuesday made his college choice official.
In a signing ceremony in front of family, friends, teammates and members of the school administration, Schwartz committed to Muskingum University.
Schwartz will be a member of the Fighting Muskies baseball team. He will also continue his education, studying athletic training.
Schwartz’ dad, Mark, is the varsity baseball coach at Washington High School. This spring will mark his third year in that post.
He has been coaching his son since Ryan was three years old.
“I’ve been coaching him for 15 or 16 years,” Schwartz said. “It’s been fun. I’m sure it’s not been easy for him at times. But, we’ve learned to separate baseball from (being) dad at times. As soon as we leave the field, we don’t talk about baseball. I don’t want to stress him out too much.
“The relationship has changed over the years,” Schwartz said. “As he’s gotten older, I’ve realized that I don’t need to be so hard on him. He’s a good kid. His mom and I are very proud of the young man he’s become. We look forward to the next four years at Muskingum.”
Schwartz is the catcher for the Blue Lions. He has been a catcher for several years now, but he is not limited to that spot alone.
“He can pretty much play anywhere,” Schwartz said. “As a freshman and a sophomore, he was catcher. Last year, we started him out at first base. He pitched and played a little bit at third. By the end of the year, we moved him back to catcher, which is his natural spot. This year, he’s more than likely going to be our full-time catcher.
“With Ryan behind the plate, it changes our team dynamic,” Schwartz said. “He pretty much shuts down the (other team’s) running game, as much as you can in high school ball, anyway. Not many teams run on him and that helps our overall defense.”
How does a high school baseball player make the adjustment to the college game?
“He’s been in the weight room for the last year, year-and-a-half,” Schwartz said. “You can tell he’s added some muscle and he’s gotten a lot stronger. When he gets to Muskingum in the fall, I know they’ll get everybody in the weight room. We talked to their coach over the weekend. They’re still going full-go in the weight room. Then, once they start practice, they’ll only lift a couple of days a week. He’s got some good coaches at Muskingum. Coach (Gregg) Thompson (the Muskies’ head baseball coach) has been there for 24 years.
“I think they are going to use him as a catcher,” Schwartz said. “As tall as he is, eventually he may get switched to first or third, maybe pitch, he’s got a good arm. I think he’s projected as a catcher as of now. He has a middle of the order-type bat, they said.
“For me as a coach, with Ryan behind the plate, that’s one position I don’t worry about,” Schwartz said. “I know he’s going to make the plays most of the time, if not all the time. Like I said, he shuts down the running game. In three years of catching, I think he’s only had one or two passed balls, which is big. He catches the ball, receives it well. As a catcher, you have to be a leader. He knows when to go out to the mound and settle a pitcher down. I call the pitches, but, I trust him to call them. There’s times I get caught up talking with coaches and he’s been doing it so long for me, he knows what I’m going to call anyway. He knows the game.
“We were going through photos for his graduation party,” Schwartz said. “When he was three, he had catcher’s equipment on. When he was seven, he started catching for Rick Hall. That was the first year Little League let seven-year-olds play Minor League ball off the pitching machine. Rick kept saying in practice, ‘no seven-year-old is going to catch, you’re too young.’ Nobody wanted to do it. Little Ryan was in the back going, ‘I’ll catch, I’ll catch.’ So he finally let him do it and the rest is history.”
“My only two choices were Shawnee (State University) or Muskingum,” Ryan Schwartz said. “When I first went (to Muskingum) it just felt like home. When I was there, I got introduced to the players and all the coaches and I just fell in love with it.”
Schwartz began playing baseball at an early age.
“My dad was always coaching,” Schwartz said. “Just always being around it, I fell in love with baseball at an early age and just stuck with it.”
Asked about his favorite moment in his high school career to this point, Schwartz said, “So far it would be winning league my sophomore year (the 2018 season).”
Schwartz spoke about the upcoming 2020 high school season.
“It’s going to be a tough season,” Schwartz said. “We have a super-young team. We’re going to have to get used to each other and out-work everyone. We only have three returning starters and two of them are sophomores.”
In high school, Schwartz said science classes were his favorite.
“I’ve always been good at science,” Schwartz said. “That’s super-fun for me.”
As far as a favorite teacher, Schwartz said, “Mr. (Tom) Renick (a history teacher), I’ve always enjoyed his classes.”
To succeed at the next level, Schwartz said, “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and putting in extra time every day.”
Schwartz concluded his remarks with thanks to many.
“Obviously, God first, and then my family and coaches and everyone who has been there for me and pushed me to be the best I could be,” Schwartz said.