The hero's name is Andrew Walters Ritter
Posted on: October 20,2013
Ole Miss Rebel Andrew Walters Ritter kicked that clutch 41-yard field goal to shock sixth-ranked LSU 27-24 Saturday night.
We’ll get to the field goal later, but first, about that middle name…
Andrew Ritter is named for his great grandfather, Carl Walters, the first sports writer inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame back in 1993.
Carl Walters died in March of 1990. Andrew Walters Ritter was born in April of 1991.
“I never knew my great grandfather, but I’ve heard so much about him all my life I feel like I knew him and knew him well,” Ritter said Sunday afternoon.
Ritter knows enough about his great grandfather to know that Carl would be tickled to life to know that his great grandson kicked a field goal that helped Ole Miss beat LSU.
I knew Carl Walters and I knew him well. He was one of my daddy’s best friends and like an uncle to me. I can assure you that if there is a press box in heaven, Carl and Ace (my dad) celebrated Andrew’s kick with Chivas Regal on the rocks, probably two or three.
“I know the history of Ole Miss football and I know my great grandfather recorded a lot of that history,” Andrew Ritter said. “That’s part of what makes what happened last night so cool.”
But there’s a lot more than that. Ritter, formerly a star at Jackson Academy, is a fifth year senior at Ole Miss. He has waited a long time to get the chance to be the field goal and extra point specialist for the Rebels. In fact, he elected to red-shirt last year, which normally would have been his senior season, to have this opportunity.
Judy Ritter, Carl Walter’s daughter and Andrew’s grandmother, watched on TV last night.
“The thing that struck me is when they showed Andrew on the sidelines before he went out to kick the field goal, he was smiling,” Judy Ritter said. “I think he was smiling because he knew he was about to get the chance to do something he has dreamed about doing all his life.”
“People tell me I was smiling, but to tell you the truth I don’t remember that,” he said. “If I was smiling it was because of just what my grandmother said. I’ve waited a long time and put in a lot of hard work to get the opportunity to do what I did last night.”
When he got the chance, he nailed it. Ritter’s kick went right down the middle and cleared the cross bar by plenty.
“I was nervous, really nervous, I can’t lie about that,” Ritter said. “There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, but sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment. You have to relish the opportunity and I really did.”
Carl Walters, a smart man who dropped out of school in the ninth grade after both is parents had died, has plenty more reasons to be proud of his great grandson.
Andrew Ritter graduated with honors from Ole Miss last December with a degree in managerial finance. He will earn his MBA this semester.
“When Coach (Hugh) Freeze approached me about red-shirting last season, it was a no-brainer for me,” Ritter said. “It not only gave me a chance to be the placekicker but it also gave me the opportunity to get my Masters and that’s important.”
Carl Walters began writing sports after first working as a printer for the Laurel Leader Call. He put out the first sports section and thus became the state’s first sports editor at the Meridian Star in 1924. He later worked at the Tupelo Journal, the Jackson Daily News and the Jackson State Times, before finishing his career at The Clarion-Ledger with a 21-year stint beginning in 1956. His column “Shavins” was a fixture.
Carl Walters was often accused of favoring Ole Miss, but as he told me, “They were the team that was winning. It comes with the territory.”
Among the many wise choices Carl made at The Clarion-Ledger was to hire a young, talented sports writer named Orley Hood.
Saturday night, Orley and I watched Andrew Ritter kick the ball through the uprights to beat LSU. And we immediately toasted Andrew’s kick together: “Here’s to Carl.”
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Rick, you are right. I knew Carl Walters, and he was a great writer. I know Andrew’s parents, better people you will never meet. I am just so pleased that the Ritters had the opportunity to watch their son, with millions watching, drill that field goal against LSU. With most parents, it does not get better than that. But in this case, their son will continue to excel.
very nice article, Rick!
Great article, Rick, as usual, but you have been exposed as one who writes a lot of sports and doesn’t drink a lot of scotch. Chevis Jackson from LSU played in the NFL for a bit, but the drink is Chivas.
Thanks Bill,and you are right, and I will change it. For the record, Famous Grouse is my Scotch of choice. Carl and Ace did prefer Chivas…
Rick, I am Carl’s son and Andrew’s great-uncle. During my high school years at Jackson Central, I was editor of The Tiger Talks and warmed the bench behind Billy Kinard. I’m married to a lovely Ecuadorian lady, Cecilia Chabla. We live in her home city, Cuenca, Ecuador, where she teaches high school English and I am a part-time professor (English) at La Universidad de Cuenca. We have 6 yr old twins, Anna Cecilia and Carl Jose’. I had the honor of representing our family, speaking briefly, and toasting “Shavins” and his beloved, Annie Sue, at the banquet the night he was inducted into the MSHF. Yes, you did know our father and you knew him well. So did your father, Ace. And we knew your father and liked him and respected him greatly. And Carl loved Ace and Orley and Lee and all of his young sportswriter proteges. Please allow me, on behalf of our whole inclusive, international clan, to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to you for this sensitive, insightful, touching column. As Judy says in her email to all of us this morning, “Everybody: Log on to http://www.msfame.liquidcreative.net, then go to “Rick’s writings” to read the best story of all about Sat. nite’s field goal. I really miss Rick and Orley Hood’s writings in the CL.” Yes, we are all enormously proud of Andrew–AND his parents, George and Betsy, and ALL of Andrew’s teammates, the Rebels, and Ole Miss. We are all still celebrating! So, here! I lift a glass of Chivas or Black Jack or, if you prefer, Famous Grouse, to all of the above, to the MSHF–to Orley, and to YOU. Salud y Gracias!
What a great article on an amazing young man. When he was little, his mom & I called him “Wally”, for his middle name. Did you hear Andrew’s interview after the game? To “What were you thinking of just before the kick?”, he replied something like, “I was thinking of the team and of my fans”. And he gave God the glory for the winning field goal. Woah, just woah. Andrew Ritter is as much my hero as Carl Walters is yours.
NO WORDS! I still have no voice after Sat night!! Incredible game!!! Awesome humans-the Ritters!!! Great article, Rick!!! HT!!!!!!!!!!! REBEL LOVE!!!!!!
Rick: Once again you have written an insightful and complimentary column about the Walters-Ritter clan, just as you did 8 (?–time hurries on) years ago when you first wrote about Andrew when he started kicking for Jackson Academy. Then I think you said he “could kick it over the moon.” Well, all we needed Saturday night was through the uprights and thank goodness he did that.
Thank you for relating him to Carl who loved football and spent many years writing about it and all other sports including golf and fishing. I miss him every time I stand in the Ole Miss stadium for the National Anthem. I also miss your and Orley’s writings in the Clarion-Ledger. Now that I’ve found you both on this site I’ll once again enjoy reading what you have to say and say so well Thannks for your thoughfulness, interest and friendship. Judy
Great story, Rick! I had no earthly idea that the legendary Carl Walters was Andrew’s great grandfather. My Belzoni grandfather OJ Turner and his brothers Thomas (Turner Center), Irby and Joe Ware all knew Carl very well, and I believe shared a drink or three along the way. PKnew Andrew came from great stock with George and Betsy but now we can add “Shavins”!