Diamond 9: Mansfield’s Barry Short lived his baseball dream

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Mansfield's Barry Short pitched nine seasons in the minor leagues, mostly in the New York Mets farm.

Mansfield’s Barry Short pitched nine seasons in the minor leagues, mostly in the New York Mets farm.

For kids growing up in small communities such as Mansfield, where the quaint town square has all the basics save for a stoplight, a pro baseball career seems thousands of miles away.

However, Barry Short is proof that dreams can come true.

The 1992 Mansfield High School graduate parlayed a successful prep career into nine seasons in the minor leagues, and his efforts haven’t been forgotten. The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is recognizing Short as part of its next Diamond 9, a group of former high school and college standouts.

The ceremony is May 27 as part of the Hall’s Baseball Sports Enthusiasts Luncheon, at which former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa will be honored as a Missouri Sports Legend. Tickets are $40 for the 11 a.m. luncheon at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.

Click here for the Baseball Luncheon flyer

“When I got drafted, it was awesome. When I was 5 years old, I said, ‘I’m going to play in the big leagues,’” said Short, now a banker in his hometown. “I never considered myself to be that good. But I guess I did have a pretty good career.”

Short hit 21 home runs in his high school career and helped the Class of 1992 win 115 varsity baseball games in its collective career. Mansfield won four Summit League and four district championships and reached the state semifinals in 1990 and 1991, placing second and third, respectively.

The New York Mets drafted Short in the 41st round in 1993 as a so-called “draft-and-follow,” meaning they could evaluate him over the next 11 months and offer a contract just before the next amateur draft.

Short signed his first pro contract after one season at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, and then embarked on a pro baseball career that lasted from 1994 to 2000.

Looking back, he credits his dad-coach, Randy, and mom Kathy for building on his passion for the game.

“Ever since I was little, I was at the high school field playing and getting picked on,” Short said. “It was baseball, baseball, baseball.”

A dual threat in high school, Short strictly focused on pitching in the minor leagues. He finished 22-19 in affiliated baseball, compiling a 2.72 earned run average in 346 innings, before spending his final season with the independent St. Paul Saints.

Along the way, Short won two high Class A Florida State League pennants with the St. Lucie Mets, in 1996 and 1998. The 1996 season was his best, as he finished 6-2 with a 2.34 ERA and earned 10 saves. He struck out 70 in 88.1 innings.

Unfortunately, Short underwent “Tommy John” elbow ligament replacement surgery and was forced to miss most of the next season, despite the Mets promoting the right-hander to Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League. He returned in 1998, pitching in Class A and Double-A.

“I always thought I could hit until I got to pro ball and saw batting practice,” Short said. “You put a wood bat in 18 to 20-year-old kids’ hands, it’s different. …

“God just gave me a gift of a right arm, and I went as far as I could. Looking back, I’m as happy as happy can be with the outcome.”

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.

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.