Diamond 9: Dan Bishop, Springfield-Central grad & Orioles, Yankees farmhand

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None other than future Baltimore Orioles skipper Earl Weaver was his manager in two of his first three seasons, and the experience set him for a memorable career that reached Triple-A. But, for longtime Bolivar resident Dan Bishop, he would never have gotten there without mentors and teammates here in the Ozarks.

“Ed Brammer, my American Legion coach, was a great mentor for me,” Bishop said. “He taught me the game.”

Now the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will soon recognize Bishop for his pro career, as the Hall of Fame will present the former catcher with a Diamond 9 award during the annual Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company. It’s set for 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 25 at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield. Sponsorship tables of eight ($400), head table tickets ($100), and individual tickets ($40) are available – along with congratulatory ads – by calling 417-889-3100.

Bishop’s award is part of the Hall of Fame’s baseball celebration: A 9 a.m. unveiling of a larger-than-life bronze statue of West Plains native and former Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bill Virdon is set at the Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive. Afterward, five individuals will be inducted at the baseball luncheon:  Mark Bailey (Glendale High School/Missouri State/Houston Astros), the late John Donaldson (Glasgow HS, Negro Leagues), former Westran, Sturgeon and Jamestown high school baseball/softball coach Kelly Odneal, sports writer Rob Rains (Kickapoo/St. Louis media), and Mark Stratton, the former coach at Glendale High School and Drury University.

The Diamond 9 awards presented by B.J.’s Trophy Shop consist of former high school, college and pro standouts who made a positive impact in the sport.

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Bishop was a 1956 graduate of Springfield’s Central High School, where he played on its baseball teams three years and played for Brammer on local American Legion teams. He went on to then-Southwest Missouri State University but left school to pursue his baseball dreams. Bishop was a catcher in the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees farm systems from 1957 to 1962, reaching two Triple-A affiliates, Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League and Miami of the International League.

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The 1959 season was his best, as he reached both Triple-A circuits and played in the All-Star Game in the Class C Northern League. He later played seven years on Springfield fastpitch softball teams sponsored by Barnes Store.

How did Brammer enhance Bishop’s career?

“Through discipline,” said Bishop, who later owned a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealership in Bolivar for almost 20 years. “He was teaching me the game and Ed was one of those guys who was a great guy. And when you played for Ed Brammer, it was all business. I loved playing for him. He told me early on that I was going to play professional baseball.”

Dan Bishop, right, with the Royals' Fred Patek.

Dan Bishop, right, with the Royals’ Fred Patek.

Bishop was among seven players on Brammer’s American Legion team who signed pro contracts.

“We had a good high school team,” Bishop said. “I started playing in Springfield, starting out in Kiwanis.”

In the pros, he played in spring training games with Brooks Robinson, who went on to be inducted into Cooperstown after leading the Orioles to the World Series and earning 18 All-Star appearances. Weaver was Bishop’s manager in his first two minor league seasons, with Weaver going on to a Hall of Fame career himself – he led the Orioles for 17 seasons, winning the 1970 World Series and earning four American League pennants.

“Earl loved the game,” Bishop said. “I played my first year of pro ball at catcher and caught 120 games. He put me in there every night.”

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Overall, the Diamond 9 features: Doug Bennett (Hillcrest High School/University of Arkansas), Dan Bishop (Springfield Central High School/Baltimore Orioles/New York Yankees), Jack Funderburk (Southwest Baptist University), Chelsea King Goodin (Strafford High School/Drury University), Kellie Becher Kessler (Missouri State University), , Danny Powers (Carl Junction High School/University of Central Missouri/Minnesota Twins), Kyle Rapinchuk (Branson High School/College of the Ozarks), Stefanie Standley (Lamar High School/University of Missouri) and Michael Vincent (Hollister High School/John Brown University/Phillips University/Cincinnati Reds).