Diamond 9: Humansville, SBU well-armed with Burrell

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Jack Burrell was an intimidating presence on the mound for Southwest Baptist after starring at Humansville High School.

Jack Burrell was an intimidating presence on the mound for Southwest Baptist after starring at Humansville High School.

In some towns, kids who love baseball have no choice but to ride their bikes to the other side of town just to find a ball field.

So imagine Jack Burrell’s childhood.

“I grew up in Humansville, and (baseball) was all there was. We played all the time,” said Burrell, now working for Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper. “The ballpark was a block from my home, and I spent every minute I had at the ballpark.”

Burrell went on to star for Humansville High School as a pitcher-catcher and Southwest Baptist as a pitcher, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is recognizing his career during the Baseball Sports Enthusiasts Luncheon on May 27 in Springfield.

The 11 a.m. ceremony presented by Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper at University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center features the naming of Tony La Russa as a Missouri Sports Legend. 2015 Baseball Luncheon Information & Details

Jack Burrell was one of the most sought-after recruits in southwest Missouri in 1980.

Jack Burrell was one of the most sought-after recruits in southwest Missouri in 1980.

Burrell was a standout throughout high school and also played on Stockton’s American Legion summer team. He fired Humansville to a runner-up finish in the 1980 state championship, striking out 18 combined in the semifinals and championship – a record that stood for years.

Looking back, Burrell cannot help but thank Calvin Hickman, one of the state’s top basketball coaches.

Hickman returned to his family’s farm in 1980 after the death of his father and became Humansville’s baseball coach. Burrell pitched one of his best games that season, striking out a season-high 22.

“Coach Hickman had very limited knowledge of baseball, and it was his first year to coach baseball. But he was a great motivator,” Burrell said, noting that Hickman let the four seniors have a lot of say that season. “He knew sports. He knew coaching. And it was a team effort. He was that kind of motivator.”

Burrell drew interest from major programs such as Arkansas but chose Southwest Baptist because it was the right fit.

Burrell drew interest from major programs such as Arkansas but chose Southwest Baptist because it was the right fit.

Burrell, a right-hander, was one of the most sought-after recruits that season. He received an offer from Missouri State and drew interest numerous other major programs, including Arkansas, Southern Illinois and Mizzou.

“But coming from Humansville High School and a small town, I felt Southwest Baptist was the place for me,” Burrell said.

SBU provided a competitive schedule as the Bearcats played against Arkansas, Oral Roberts and Southern Mississippi among numerous other big names.

Burrell played all four seasons, including three as a starting pitcher. He injured an elbow his junior year, however, and was limited to only relief duty in his senior year, pitching in 23 games.

He’s since become a successful businessman. Burrell, the son of Jack and Twila Burrell, is married to Pam and they have a son, Wesley, and daughter-in-law, Whitney.

“It was a lot of fun,” Burrell said of his career. “I’ve always said I would have done more if not for getting hurt. But I finished up and, my last game, I won it. I never played another ball game after that. Not even slow pitch. But I love the game.”

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WANT TO GO?

The ceremony: The Baseball Sports Enthusiasts Luncheon presented by Ozarks Coca Cola/Dr Pepper at is 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 27 at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.

Tickets & sponsorships: $40, or $100 for a head table ticket. Numerous sponsorships are available, including a table of eight for $400, which includes associate sponsorship recognition in the printed program.

For Burrell tickets & sponsorships: Call Taylor Frederich at 417-889-3100.

Honorees

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa will be honored as a Missouri Sports Legend, in which a specially commissioned sculpture, cast in bronze, will line the Legends Walkway.

Byron Hagler, who won almost 600 baseball games and reached nine state final fours as the head coach of Licking and Hillcrest high schools. His 1988 and 1989 Licking teams won Class 2 state championships.

Former Saint Elizabeth High School softball coach Diane Juergensmeyer, who won more than 400 games and three state championships in 1992, 1994 and 2002.

Former fast-pitch softball standout Roy Burlison, who played on teams in St. Louis and Springfield.

John Schaefer, CEO of Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper, is the recipient of the President’s Award.

Diamond 9: baseball standouts Jack Burrell of Humansville and Southwest Baptist; Brad Simmons of Glendale High School and the Kansas City Royals; Kelly Snider of Hillcrest High School the Oklahoma Sooners and the Los Angeles Dodgers; Barry Short of Mansfield High School, Three Rivers Community College and the New York Mets; Jim Lumpe of Glendale High School, the Mizzou Tigers and Montreal Expos; and former American Softball Association or college/high school softball standouts in Marionville’s Janice Crumpley Bluebaum, Hillcrest graduate Tim Blasi, Caitlin Chapin of Ozark High School and Missouri State; and Missouri Southern graduate Diane Miller.