Ralph Zobell was named the 2016 winner of the Wilbur Snypp Award by the National College Baseball Writers Association. (Photo by BYU Creative Design/Dave Broberg)
EUGENE, Ore. (Feb. 9, 2017) – Ralph Zobell, a 41-season veteran of college baseball media relations and national leader in this field, is the 42nd recipient of the prestigious 2016 Wilbur Snypp Award presented annually by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association for outstanding contributions to college baseball.
Zobell has served as the baseball sports information director at BYU full-time since 1977, when the office consisted of just two full-time communications professionals. After working as a student-intern in 1976, he began his career as an assistant sports information director, later associate SID and then sports information director for the Cougars from 1990-98. He currently serves as BYU’s web page and football game program coordinator, in addition to coordinating baseball communications for the Cougars.
“Ralph Zobell has been a shining example about the positive points of college baseball for five decades,” said NCBWA executive director Bo Carter. “He is the consummate college athletics media relations professional, has been a fine contributor to the NCBWA and has affected the lives of hundreds of college baseball student-athletes, coaches and administrators during his illustrious career at BYU.”
The personable veteran, who also attended the University of Wyoming before gaining his undergraduate and graduate degrees from BYU, has worked in the day-to-day coverage of all 21 Cougars sports programs since joining the department in ’77.
He was president of the NCBWA in 1990 after serving in the vice-presidential rotation and as a Western Region director for several years. Zobell also was part of the planning committee for BYU¹s combination baseball/softball Miller Park Stadiums complex, which opened in 2001.
For several seasons he provided top services for media covering BYU baseball without the benefit of a permanent press area. The ingenious Zobell used such items as folding tables, his children’s toy chest and plastic bags to protect equipment from rain and snow while seated in front of aluminum bleachers.
He has worked with many of the top student-athletes in BYU baseball annals such as college baseball’s 1981 Freshman of the Year (and later Major League Baseball standout) Cory Snyder and numerous Academic All-America and All-American standouts, including Snyder, Wally Joyner and Scott Nielsen.
He also was publicist for one of BYU’s all-time greatest teams in 1983 when the Cougars were ranked No. 1 nationally prior to the NCAA Regionals.
Zobell is an accomplished writer with several published historical articles in such journals as the Utah Law Review. He has chronicled BYU’s history as well as the Cougars’ absence in both the 1958 and 1961 NCAA World Series because of Sunday play. He has worked 11 NCAA baseball Regionals and has attended nine NCAA Division I World Series in Omaha, Neb., while gathering ample historical data for college baseball.
“This is totally unexpected,” Zobell said, “and I am thrilled and speechless. So many great names in college baseball have won this award, and it is an honor to become part of this group. Throughout the years, it has been my goal to promote college baseball any way I can, and I have been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful mentors and many tremendous baseball student-athletes.”
As the 2016 winner, Zobell joins a sterling group of past Wilbur Snypp Award winners, including national journalists and college administrators. The plaque memorializes longtime Ohio State sports information director and NCBWA founder, the late Wilbur (Bill) Snypp. Snypp was a noted contributor to the writers' organization, which was initiated in 1962, as well as an officer in the group. The NCBWA/Wilbur Snypp Award yearly honors a professional for contributions to the sport of college baseball. Voting is conducted by a panel of previous winners, who include past NCAA College World Series directors, College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame members, decorated media members, and others.