Diamond 9: Sparta’s record-breaking Brent Maggard

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Three weeks before Brent Maggard was born, his mom was playing in a slow-pitch game in which she even slid into second base.

“She was safe, by the way,” Maggard said. “That’s where it all began.”

So it’s probably no surprise that baseball has long held a grip on Maggard, who went on to star at Sparta High School – he set or nearly broke 26 state records – before heading off to Crowder College and NCAA Division I Southern Arkansas.

Now his career is being remembered again as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame recognizes Maggard with a Diamond 9 award. It will be presented during the Hall’s Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, set for 11 a.m. May 18 at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. (See ticket information below.)

“As Babe Ruth said, ‘Baseball is and always will be the best game in the world,’” said Maggard, the son of Alan and Cathy Maggard. “Before age 2, I would beg people to play baseball with me. My grandma and grandpa spent many hours pitching the ball to me. And when they became tired of playing, I would talk Mom into playing. I never grew tired of it.”

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Maggard is among nine former baseball and softball players being recognized for the third annual Diamond 9 award, given for contributions to their sports.

His award also will come on a day when the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame names former Missouri State University athletic director Bill Rowe a Missouri Sports Legend. The Hall of Fame also will induct former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs groundskeeper George Toma and Mansfield High School baseball coach Doug Jones.

Maggard was one of the top baseball players in the state from 2002 to 2005 for Sparta High School. He was a two-time All-State selection, as well as four-time first team All-Southwest Central League and a three-time All-District, including in 2003, when he was the only sophomore in southwest Missouri named all-district.

In his career, Sparta won the Class 1 state championship in 2003, reached two state semifinals and won sectionals and district three times.

“The highlight of my baseball years was my sophomore year at Sparta as we went to the state tournament and came out state champs,” Maggard said. “It was a great experience, one I will always remember.”

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Career-wise, Maggard played in 128 consecutive games, topping the previous record of 113 set in 1977 and that was tied in 2003. He also gained a state-record 383 at-bats and finished second in state history in hits (179) and singles (98) and the third-most RBI (155), extra-base hits (81) and doubles (43). He also hit the fourth-most home runs (30), plus was seventh with eight triples and 13th with a .451 career batting average.

In 2004, Maggard broke the single-season runs scored record of 51 with 77 and finished with the state record in hits (59), doubles (17) and extra-base hits (35). Maggard’s extra-base hits total was previously held by Sikeston’s Blake DeWitt, a future big-leaguer with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his 60 RBI were second-most in the state that season as well.

As a senior, he also pitched, setting a state record with 193 strikeouts, shattering Morrisville’s Chris Gerleman’s record of 164 set in 2002.

“I just want to say thank you to my coaches for always pushing me to be better, especially coach Shawn Poyser and Coach (Allen) Stolte for helping me move on past high school,” Maggard said. “I still remember Stolte taking his time to drive me down to Three Rivers Community College for my visit.”

Maggard was the South Central League MVP before going on to play college baseball, although injuries ended his career at Southern Arkansas. He also helped Sparta’s basketball team win three district titles, a regional, sectional and two conference titles. He was a first team All-State in basketball as a senior and conference MVP.

“Of course, the folks who made it all possible were my parents and grandparents,” Maggard said, noting his grandparents are John and Marjie Hall, and Glean and Sharon Maggard. “They traveled all over the place just to watch me play ball. Everyone else who was there for me through all the years of baseball, especially teammates, were important in helping me reach my dreams.”

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Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company

When: 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 18

Where: University Plaza Convention Center, Springfield

Honorees: Missouri State University baseball coach/athletic director Bill Rowe to be named a Missouri Sports Legend; Inductions of St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs groundskeeper George Toma, and Mansfield High School baseball coach Doug Jones

Diamond 9 awards: Marin Whorton Cooney (Ozark High School/Missouri Southern), Sophia Alexander Denning (Strafford High School/Drury); Bob Detherage (Hillcrest High School/Kansas City Royals); Bill Helfrecht (Glendale High School/Missouri State), Brent Maggard (Sparta High School/Crowder/Southern Arkansas), Kristen Marshall (Glendale High School/William Jewell), Troy McMain (Willard High School), Christian Overstreet (Nixa High School/Missouri State), and Tom Wilson (Bolivar High School/Detroit Tigers).

Tickets: Individual ticket is $40. Head table ticket is $100. A table of eight is $400 and includes an autographed print along with associate sponsor recognition in the printed program. Congratulatory ads and other sponsorships are available. Call the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.