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Column: Georgia Tech legend stays grounded at Chastain
April 10, 2013 06:57 PM | 1794 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
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A friend once attempted to calculate how many baseballs Randy Rhino has thrown over the course of his coaching career. The math was straightforward enough; average number of balls thrown per lesson or practice, multiplied by the number of lessons and practices per week times 52 times 27.

It was more than million, quite a bit more. The team chiropractor for Georgia Tech spends six days a week coaching baseball at the Northside Youth Organization at Chastain Park. He has been doing it for 27 years. It is in his blood.

Randy’s father, Chappell Rhino, coached him when he was young. The results speak for themselves: three-sport standout in high school, the only three-time, first team All-American at Tech and a member of both the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

On the gridiron he set several Ramblin’ Wreck records, including longest punt return (96 yards, for a touchdown), which still stands. On the diamond he lettered all four years with a career batting average of .368.

When his three sons were young, Randy starting coaching, which he had always wanted to do. He would have pursued it professionally but knew the toll it would take on his family. That and his wife Missy would have none of it.

When the boys grew out of NYO, he kept going. His All-Star team of 12-year-olds, the Titans, is one of the best in country, having won 30 games and winning four tournaments last year. There is a chuckle when asked if anything has changed at NYO over the last 27 years.

Back then the best NYO field wasn’t at Chastain. It was at St. John Methodist Church. There were only a few fields in the park, one where the 15- to 18-year-olds played, a Pony [League] field and the field near Lake Forrest Drive, where a player could “run off a cliff” running to first base. They didn’t worry about wear on the fields; the fields were worn.

Now 59, Randy has been giving private lessons and coaching the Titans as new fields were built, batting cages were installed and bleachers and pavilions were added. It is rare that he is not at the ball fields. After the Titans’ season wraps up, he usually takes some time off. But most of the year he is out there throwing pitches, offering tips, coaching.

His son Kelley, who broke a few of his father’s records as a Yellow Jacket, is now coaching Randy’s 6-year-old grandson at NYO.

With the next generation set to take the field, the Rhino family tradition continues.

Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is a sixth-generation Atlanta resident and can reached at thorntonkennedy@me.com.
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