It’s one of the most exciting times for any high school athlete.
It is the dream of so many, yet, only few ever get the experience the opportunity to receive a college scholarship.
For Paintsville’s Braxton Ratliff, that dream became a reality. Thursday evening in front of friends and family at the Ramada Inn in Paintsville, Ratliff signed his national letter of intent to play college football for the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders.
It’s not surprising given Ratliff’s pedigree. His father Craig Ratliff, was a member of Paintsville’s 1996 state championship basketball team. He then received his own scholarship to UNC-Greensboro to play basketball. The elder Ratliff’s true love was on the baseball diamond however, and he would then go to pitch in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization.
Braxton’s grandfather Johnnie Lemaster is no stranger to the major leagues either. Lemaster was the Giants No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 MLB draft. Lemaster is considered one of the greatest defensive shortstops in major league history. He played 12 seasons in the big leagues, 10 alone with San Francisco. He would later play for the Cleveland Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland Athletics.
“I’ve had him ever since he’s been in diapers. It’s been a long time. I was his tee ball coach and I would probably still be at Pikeville College if my grandson’s hadn’t started playing Little League. I said if I’m ever going to teach them anything, now’s the time to do it, so I stepped down from Pikeville College and went back to tee ball,” Lemaster said with a smile.
Ratliff excels on the baseball field just like his father and grandfather. He played his football career for the Ashland Tomcats.
In attendance last night, Ashland head coach Tony Love praised his former quarterback.
“He’s got the total package. He’s got speed, he’s got the arm, and he’s got more importantly the intelligence,” Love said.
Ratliff had plenty of support last night for his signing. Not only his family, but his some of his football teammates from Ashland, members of his Paintsville’s baseball team along with coach Walt Crace. “I’m excited, I’m extremely blessed and I wouldn’t be here without my family and the good Lord,” Ratliff said.
After baseball season and his graduation at the end of this school year, he will join his new teammates at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.