I remember a movie titled King Ralph starring John Goodman where he was supposed to take over the Royal Throne. But the real “King Ralph” lived in Mountain City. He too, had a throne of his own.
Stout was a legend to all those who knew him.
He was a standout basketball player at Johnson County High School and graduated in 1939. His team won 26 straight games that year before losing to Kingsport in the tournament.
Stout told me that you never forget a loss like that. You never forget a man like Mr. Stout either.
Johnson County named their local park after him because Stout was a legend to his hometown people. He served in the U.S. Navy and played college basketball at Lincoln Memorial.
The eagle-eye Stout would graduate from the Elgin Watch Makers College in 1945. Five times he was awarded the “Silver Whistle” award for being the best official in the Southern Conference. He could have won that 10 times plus among the residents in Mountain City.
That’s because Mr. Stout was simply the best.
It’s funny how Stout was always the one handing out the compliments.
He stated that Larry Hutchinson from Shady Valley was the best football official in Tennessee. I definitely agreed with him on that one.
He stood toe-to-toe with the likes of North Carolina’s legendary basketball coach Dean Smith and NCAA championship coach Norm Sloan of North Carolina State.
But Stout was proud of his Johnson County heritage. Mountain City was his hometown and he never forgot it.
Nor did he forget those here who were closest to him.
He was proud of Johnson County native Mark Blevins stating he was one of the best high school basketball coaches in Tennessee.
He also praised former major league pitcher and Johnson County native Clyde “Hardrock” Shoun for being a great official with tons of knowledge about the game.
That was Stout; praising the people he loved most, those from Johnson County.
But Stout wasn’t all about sports.
His pride and joy was his granddaughter, Jeanie Bower, and her sons. His close friends such as Joe Atwood and Tom Reece often saw another side of him as well.
“Ralph was one of the kindest and nicest people that you could ever meet in this life,” said Reece. “I would always stop in and visit him. He always thanked me when I came and he never failed to thank me again when I left. That spoke volumes about the type of man he was.”
You could say that Mr. Stout was one of the most respected men ever to wear the stripes as an official for 55 years. It was common to find him as the lead referee in a big time college basketball game on television.
He called 37 games in the professional ABA league. He was supervisor over the Ohio Valley Conference officials for 37 years too.
But there is so much more to say about Ralph.
I am amazed that he found time to serve as the mayor of Mountain City years ago. But why should any of this be a surprise?
Ralph Stout was the king of Johnson County with his castle located at the entrance of Mountain City. He gave the town everything he had for 96 years as a role model citizen.
It would take a movie the length of “Gone with the Wind” to tell his complete story.
May I suggest King Ralph 2 without John Goodman?
Nobody will ever be as good as Ralph Stout was.