Diamond 9: Michael Vincent, Hollister grad & Reds minor leaguer

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For 1980 Hollister High School graduate Michael Vincent, what a run it’s been in baseball. He can say he won a Double-A league championships with future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and future big-leaguers Rob Dibble and Chris Sabo, plus won an American Legion triple crown here in the Ozarks and played for two elite NAIA baseball programs.

Pretty impressive for guy whose high school didn’t even have a field.

“I was lucky to have my idols in my own family. My grandfather was a player, coach and scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, and my father was a record-setting pitcher at Clemson University,” Vincent said. “I knew at 5 years old I wanted to follow them into professional baseball.”

Vincent did just that, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will soon recognize the former pro 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.

In fact, Vincent’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.

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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.

A 1980 Hollister High School graduate, Vincent was a three-time All-Southwest Central League selection in both baseball and basketball and the conference MVP in both sports. The shortstop also won the Springfield American Legion triple crown in 1980 with a .440 batting average, 21 home runs and 91 RBI. He was part of John Brown University’s 1981 NAIA College World Series team and, after the program was discontinued, he transferred to Phillips University and became a two-time NAIA All-American as well as All-Sooner Athletic Conference and All-Area.

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“My high school had no baseball field. And I broke my wrist my senior year in college, but they never let me give up on my dream,” Vincent said, noting his mother’s support also was a key. “The support of my mother is legendary in Hollister. I could always hear only her voice no matter the situation.”

Vincent later helped Battle Creek, Michigan win the collegiate summer Stan Musial World Series in 1984 and then he played in the Reds farm system through 1988, reaching Double-A. Vincent later helped Price Cutter-Coors (now US Baseball Park) to two Men’s Senior Baseball national championships, and three Show-Me Games titles, plus helped the San Juan Red Sox win two Caribbean World Series.

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“I’ve played 49 consecutive years of baseball and have so many memories, but my favorite would be winning the (Double-A) Eastern League championship with the Reds in 1985,” Vincent said. “My teammates Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo and Rob Dibble would go on the win the World Series in 1990, with Larkin making the Hall of Fame a few years ago. I had the best view of those great players from behind the plate. I’m so honored to suit up with everyone from tee ball to pro ball.”

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).