He must have had a puzzled look on his face. A year after arriving as Springfield’s newest TV Sports Director, he got sent to Louisiana to cover what was anticipated to be Evangel University football’s first victory.

Yet upon arriving to the field, well, we’ll let Tom Mast tell the rest of the story.

“What made it so memorable was that (Baptist Christian) had a field that was just that – a field. No bleachers. No press box, just a field,” Mast said. “Back then, we transmitted over phone lines, and the phone company had come to the field and installed a phone line on top of a shed alongside the playing field. So I did the game sitting on my butt on top of a shed. Evangel won. You don’t forget things like that.”

Then again, if you’re going to carve out any kind of career in sports media, you’ve got to be willing to work in the so-called trenches. And Mast did just – with 2021 to mark his 50th in the industry, including his 45th in the Ozarks. And it’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted him with the Class of 2021.

Over the years, he not only was a TV Sports Director but also produced TV sports locally and served as a TV sports analyst/play-by-play announcer.

Among the highlights? He covered Drury University men’s basketball’s 1979 NAIA national championship, the rise of Missouri State University basketball under coaches Charlie Spoonhour (MSHOF Legend 2019) and Cheryl Burnett (MSHOF Legend 2015) as well as the arrival of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate in 2005.

Additionally, he covered the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals in spring training and three World Series in the 1980s, plus the high school prospect-rich Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions in Springfield. For 17 years, he produced Big Sports Magazine, the Wannenmacher Advertising Company’s high school publications.

Specifically, Mast hit Springfield in 1976, working as a TV Sports Director for 16 years, first at KOLR TV for a dozen years before joining KSPR TV through 1992.

From there, he was producer of local high school sports for TeleCable, now Mediacom.

In 1997, Wannenmacher hired him part-time to produce Big Sports magazine, which he oversaw for 17 years. (He was hired full-time in 1999).

Additionally, Mast has handled play-by-play on radio of Evangel University football (1977-1978) and Missouri State basketball in the mid-1980s. He also worked TV games of MSU football in 1989 as well as cable TV of Springfield high school sports – including football, basketball and soccer in the 1990s.

In the 2000s, he did TV play-by-play for MSU basketball, Drury basketball and the Springfield Cardinals, which he worked for about 15 years on select games. In those games, he teamed with Ned Reynolds (MSHOF Legend 2016), who had been his competitor at KY3 TV. Some of those games were on Mediacom in addition to a local TV affiliate.

Overall, Mast called his TV sports reporting days “blue-collar work” as he reported on stories that mattered.

One was Drury’s national title.

“A full week in Kansas City, watching them take down teams night after night leading up to the final and then being courtside is something I’ll never forget,” Mast said. “It was probably my first experience at being that close to a championship run by anyone or team.”

Another was women’s athletics in the Ozarks.

“There wasn’t a lot of it going on back in the 1970s and, to see how MSU, then Drury, Evangel and others worked to grow things has been great to see,” Mast said. “Dr. Mary Jo Wynn (MSHOF Legend 2014) was the driving force behind a lot of it, as well as others. I always felt I tried to find a way in the early days to get them exposure, even though it sometimes still wasn’t enough.”

A graduate of Baxter Springs (Kan.) High School, he attended Coffeyville Community College and later Wichita State University. In Wichita, he called basketball games for the campus station and worked full-time for KTVH TV (1972-1976).

Best of all, he has had the support of his wife, Tammy, and his sons Kellen and Jacoby.

“When I left Wichita, I told my co-workers I expected to stay in Springfield for just a couple of years, then springboard somewhere bigger and better,” Mast said. “Well, in all these years, I never found a place that ever looked better than Springfield, and it’s been very easy to stay here all this time.”