He used to act as a broadcaster on his buddies’ Strat-O-Matic games, even practiced in the basement of his parents’ home and, one day, walked into the radio station in his hometown of Marshall.

Before long, Art Hains made his radio debut at – get this – age 17.

“I’ve always said that I was lucky enough to live in a town big enough to have a radio station,” Hains said, “but small enough to let a high school kid on the air.”

That “kid” then chased – and lived – a dream, first by aiding on broadcasts of the Dallas Cowboys and Southwest Conference football back in the days of the SMU’s “Pony Express” and later as the Voice of the Missouri State Bears. Now his call signal is MSHOF, as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Hains with the Class of 2017.

Hains has called Missouri State and other Springfield sports for 35 years – and consecutively since 1985. All told, he has announced more than 2,200 Bears football, men’s basketball and baseball games.

He was the one on the air during: the Charlie Spoonhour era that featured five NCAA Tournament teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coach Jesse Branch’s 1989 and 1990 football playoff seasons, coach Steve Alford’s Sweet 16 team of 1999, coach Keith Guttin and the 2003 Baseball Bears’ College World Series season (part of nine NCAA regionals) and Cuonzo Martin’s 2011 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship team.

“It’s tough on young broadcasters because these jobs don’t open very often,” Hains said. “You really do become invested in and identified with the program. I didn’t go to MSU, but I feel like I did.”

Hains got the job in 1985 as longtime Bears broadcaster Vern Hawkins was retiring, and it was his second stint in the Ozarks. The two actually had worked together in Springfield from 1977 to 1981, when each took a half calling basketball games on KGBX 1260 AM, with Hains serving there as sports director.

“He could have been resentful of this kid coming in, but he wasn’t,” Hains said.

Previously, Hains worked for his hometown radio station, KMMO in Marshall, and then headed off to Southern Methodist University’s journalism school in Dallas. There, Hains caught on as a student assistant in the sports information department, a place that put him face to face with some of the biggest broadcasting names in Texas and Arkansas.

The SMU work eventually led to KRLD radio in Dallas hiring Hains away from the Ozarks in 1981. He was studio host for Dallas Cowboys broadcasts and the Southwest Conference Football Network, back at a time when SMU featured “The Pony Express” of running backs Eric Dickerson and Craig James. Hains also was part of the broadcast of SMU’s Aloha Bowl against Notre Dame, and assisted in on-course coverage of the Byron Nelson Classic and The Colonial – two of the biggest PGA Tour events.

However, a phone call from the Ozarks reached Hains in 1985, three years after then-Southwest Missouri State had jumped to NCAA Division I.

“Charlie Spoonhour himself called and said, ‘We are going to do some good things here and we want you,’” said Hains, who also credits longtime Missouri State athletic director Bill Rowe for his return. “The success of those teams really validated our decision (to return). But it was also a family decision, too. We are fortunate to live here. There are so many good things about living in the area.”

Springfield is where he and his wife, Lisa, raised their son, Chris, and daughter, Kathleen. In fact, because Hains has become so popular – and a de facto Royals ambassador – many in the area were happiest for the Hains family when the Royals won the 2015 World Series.

To many, Hains is the most knowledgeable sports fan in the Ozarks. Since 1995, he has hosted the daily Sportstalk radio show since 1995, first on KWTO-AM and, since 2001, on KWTO-FM.

In 2003, Hains was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame. In 2008, thanks to Mitch Holthus and Donna Baker, he added studio host duties for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, a challenging role as Hains covers Bears games on Saturdays to the Chiefs on Sundays.

Hains appreciates his family for their understanding as his job took him away at times.

“There has to be an understanding,” Hains said. “It’s like the Marv Albert book where he says, ‘Madam, I’d love to, but I’ve got a game.’”

In 2024, Hains was the recipient of Art Hains Inspiration Award. Below is the bio written at the time.

There’s no other way to say it. He was on his death bed, stricken by a severe case of West Nile virus.

Doctors sent him to one hospital after another, and friends back home in the Ozarks feared the worst as news reports and social media updates scrolled across their smartphones.

This was the fall of 2022 and early 2023, and yet the Voice of the Missouri State Bears — Art Hains (MSHOF 2017) – refused to quit, soldiering on despite the long odds.

“On behalf of people who have gone through challenges,” Hains said, “I hope I brought some inspiration.”

He certainly did, willing himself back to the radio both in the fall of 2023. That’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly bestowed its inaugural Inspiration Award on Hains during the 2024 Enshrinement presented by Wilson Logistics. In fact, it was announced during the ceremony that it is now the Art Hains Inspiration Award.

Hains has since called Bears football and men’s basketball home games, and returned as studio host of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network.

All in all, what a comeback story.

And there is no better summary of it than what appeared last August in the Springfield Daily Citizen, by longtime sportswriter Lyndal Scranton (MSHOF 2023):

Stricken on Sept. 17, 2022 during a Bears football road game, Hains landed in the hospital two days later and listed in critical condition. Within weeks, doctors shipped him to the University of Kansas Medical Center and then two rehabilitation facilities in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The diagnosis? West Nile virus from a mosquito bite, which left him paralyzed and battling numerous side effects.

As Hains explained to the Daily Citizen, only 700 people worldwide get the virus annually.

“The first place in Lincoln, they were kind of negative about my chances,” Hains said. “I mean, my chances to live.”

In those first few months, word spread back to friends and fans in the Ozarks. Along the way, fundraisers were held to help cover medical expenses, and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame donated proceeds from an October 2022 auction.

“When we were in Nebraska, we got so many cards,” Hains said. “And several people came up to visit, which is unbelievable because it’s a five-hour drive.”

That’s how much folks love Hains. A native of Marshall in north-central Missouri, Hains been a part of the Springfield radio airwaves since 1977 following his graduation from Southern Methodist University.

He briefly left for the Dallas market – covering SMU football’s famous Pony Express, as well as the Dallas Cowboys – but returned in 1985.

Sadly, many here in the Ozarks naturally feared Hains would never return to the booth. Not Hains, who was powered by positive thinking.

“Throughout this thing, I’ve been very positive that I’m going to come back from it,” Hains told the Daily Citizen. “I never gave up getting back to Springfield and hopefully getting back to doing some things on the radio. I’ve thought that all along.”

He returned to Springfield in late May 2023 and steadily regained use of his arms and fingers. He remains in a wheelchair, although he’s not stationary. Hains’ rehabilitation includes a focus on his legs five days a week. He doesn’t have use of them, but has steadily regained some feeling in his feet.

The hope is that he can walk again. The plan is for two more years of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, his wife of 43 years, Lisa, and their daughter, Kathleen, have been right there with him. For Chiefs broadcasts, Kathleen has prepared games notes.

“I couldn’t do the games without her,” Hains said.

For his return to Bears football and basketball, he did do test-runs before game days. However, he wasn’t quite prepared for the adrenaline rush – or the welcoming from media, fans, players, coaches and administrators.

In basketball, he’ll never forget wheeling his chair through the halls of Great Southern Bank Arena en route to the mic.

After all, it was there where Hains called the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title. In fact, he was on the call when the arena opened in 2008 with a rousing victory against the University of Arkansas. Next door sat Hammons Student Center, home of so much history.

“That was really cool,” Hains said of traveling through the arena again in 2023, before laughing. “They did a PA shoutout when I was in the middle of reading the starting lineups on radio.”

A special Art Hains Day celebration was held there, too, in mid-December. “A beautiful ceremony,” Hains called it.

All in all, he’s fought the good fight, inspiring us all.