Like a few other prominent individuals who have appeared at William Woods over the years, what ultimately brought former major league baseball pitcher and current St. Louis Cardinal radio broadcaster Rick Horton to speak on campus was…horses.
Horton’s wife Ann rides horses and is a big supporter of William Woods, which brought her in contact with legendary Equestrian professor emeritus Gayle Lampe.
“I have been trying to get Rick Horton to come speak at William Woods for six or seven years, for as long as I have known Ann and her love for horses,” Lampe said. “It was great to finally get him here, he has a lot to offer our students and I knew his insight would be beneficial to them.”
The former St. Louis Cardinal and current member of the team’s radio broadcast team, Horton addressed a packed Dulany Auditorium on Wednesday, January 17, sharing anecdotes and advice from his seven-year pitching career which included stops with the Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, where he won a World Championship ring in 1988.
“I had a chance to play for three Hall of Fame managers, three of the most famous men in baseball history, in Whitey Herzog, Tommy Lasorda and Tony LaRussa,” Horton shared. “And what I learned from them were lessons that were beneficial in anything, including playing sports, excelling at work and school, relationships – even, dare I say, riding a horse.”
The former left-hander who has done television and radio play-by-play work for the Cardinals since the late 1990’s made the theme of his pitch, so to speak, to the WWU audience the importance of three words – dreams, vision and choices.
“Whatever accomplishments you set out to do in life, whatever project, job, goal – all follow a path of these three things,” he said.
First, comes the dream.
“Every good enterprise, business, movement, family, championship, starts with a dream,” Horton added. “Before anything worthy is attained, it starts with dreaming and dreaming big, envisioning what could be.”
Horton related how, as a boy, he dreamed big about being a big league pitcher, and then beat the odds and made it happen. Even when his pitching career was over, he wanted to continue to set goals and accomplish athletic milestones, so he devoted himself to completing a marathon after age 40. Even though doing it was far from easy.
“I remember really struggling to finish,” he recalled about running the Chicago Marathon. “I didn’t think I could finish the final couple miles, and was thinking about quitting, when I saw a guy with no legs on the side of the road, holding up a sign that said ‘You Can Do It.’ It inspired me, and I found the strength to finish.”
“It was a moment that reminded me that, even though we all struggle and get humbled in this world, we shouldn’t ever stop dreaming,” he said.
Horton’s other two words to live by were vision and choices, and he mentioned the importance of having positive mentors and coaches in life.
“I hope you strive to incorporate these lessons into every facet of your life, whether it’s school, work, sports or whatever,” he said. “Our best leaders all do this, and I have had the privilege of learning from some of the best.”
Horton also took the time to tell tales of his days pitching in the majors, being on a World Championship team, and rubbing shoulders over the past three decades with Cardinal legends like Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. He took questions, and was particularly sought-after by members of the WWU Owls’ baseball team, who will begin their 2024 season next month.
Dream big, he advised them.
“I just spent a few days traveling the state with some of the current Cardinals as part of the Cardinals’ Caravan, and let me tell you, despite a disappointing season last year, to a man they are dreaming big about the upcoming season,” he said. “Make the post-season, compete for a trip to the World Series, it’s all out there for them.”
“And that’s because without a vision, you don’t have a path to make your dreams a reality. Think big, and what you can accomplish is limitless.”