Watson honored as Missouri Sports Legend, as Hall of Fame also inducts Class of 2024

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame honored golf maestro Tom Watson as a Missouri Sports Legend – complete with a bronze bust – and inducted the Class of 2024, which featured former Kansas City Royal Eric Hosmer and former Kansas City Chief Casey Wiegmann.

A crowd of more than 700 turned out for the Hall of Fame’s Enshrinement on Sunday at Union Station in Kansas City, with some proceeds benefiting the Kansas City Police Athletic League and Special Olympics Missouri. The Hall of Fame also recognized former high school, college and pro baseball and softball players with Diamond 9 Awards.

“What a Sunday. We are so delighted to honor Tom Watson as our 38th Missouri Sports Legend for all that he has accomplished in golf. He’s been such an inspiration to many,” said Byron Shive, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s CEO & Executive Director. “Additionally, every honoree added so much to the state’s rich sports history. It’s exciting to be able to recognize them for what they achieved.”

The Class of 2024 features:

  • Tom Watson – Missouri Sports Legend
  • Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals
  • Casey Wiegmann – Kansas City Chiefs
  • Betty Lennox – Fort Osage High School/Louisiana Tech/WNBA
  • Ben McCollum – Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball coach
  • The late Dale Eshelbrenner – Tennis coach
  • Pembroke Hill School Boys Tennis Program
  • Mike DeArmond – Sportswriter
  • Vincent Key – Sports Medicine
  • Phil Dorman – Platte County High School wrestling coach
  • Platte County High School Wrestling Era 1999-2010
  • Ashley Wysong – Nevada High School & University of Missouri track standout
  • 1979 Plattsburg High School State Championship Football Team
  • 1977-1980 Hickman Mills High School Girls Basketball Era
  • Fred Flook – William Jewell College baseball coach
  • Porter Ellett – The Art Hains Inspiration Award

The Diamond 9 Awards, which honor former Missouri high school or college standouts who played in college or in the pros, or those who made positive contributions in baseball and softball. Less than 100 individuals in state history have earned the award.

This year’s Diamond 9 are: Anthony Caenepeel (Willard High School/Northwest Missouri State University), Tim Dougherty (Rockhurst University), Bishop LeBlond coach Greg Kastner (Christian Brothers High School/Missouri Western State University), Ali Jo Rogers Locher (University of Central Missouri), Sarah Baldwin Miller (Chillicothe High School/University of Evansville/Northwest Missouri State University), Jeff Niemeier (Oak Park High School/University of Kansas), the late Haley Pypes (Platte County High School/U.S. Military Academy/Missouri Southern State University), Amanda Self (Blue Springs High School/Emporia State University) and Jeremy Strack (William Jewell College).

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that, throughout most of its 30-year history, has never applied for state or federal grants. Instead, the Springfield-based museum keeps its doors open thanks to private donations, induction ceremonies, golf experiences, auctions and a sporting clays classic. The Kansas City Enshrinement will be its fourth in the Kansas City metro area since 2017 and second consecutive year, as the Hall of Fame looks to expand its statewide footprint.

Tom Watson – Missouri Sports Legend

A graduate of Pembroke Country Day High School, Watson (MSHOF 1984) was honored as a Missouri Sports Legend, as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame unveiled a bronze bust of the golf great during the Enshrinement. The bust will later be on display at the Legends Walkway outside of the Hall of Fame in Springfield. It is a fitting honor for a golfer who won eight major championships, including five British Opens, two Masters and arguably the most dramatic U.S. Open in history. His career included 39 PGA Tour wins, 14 additional wins worldwide and 14 wins on the Champions Tour, six of them majors. And many still remember when, at age 59, he came within inches of winning a sixth British Open that would have made him the oldest golfer – by 11 years – to win a major title. Watson was the PGA Tour Player of the Year six times, the leading money winner five times, won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on tour three times, won the season-long Schwab Cup race on the Champions Tour twice and is the only man in history to shoot at least one round of 67 or better in all four majors in four decades.

Class of 2024
From left, first row: Fred Flook, Amanda Lehotak (representing Pembroke Hill School Boys Tennis Program, Sara Eshelbrenner (representing the late Dale Eshelbrenner), Tom Watson, MHSOF CEO & Executive Director Byron Shive, Eric Hosmer, Betty Lennox, Dr. Ashley Wysong and Kathleen Kunkler (representing Hickman Mills Girls Basketball Era of 1977-1980). Back row: Mike DeArmond, Phil Dorman (and representing Platte County Wrestling Era 1999-2000), Art Hains Inspiration Award recipient Porter Ellett, Casey Wiegmann, Dr. Vincent Key, Richard Wade (representing 1979 Plattsburg Football), Ben McCollum and Clyde Cozad (representing 1977-1980 Hickman Girls Basketball Era).

Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals

Hosmer helped fuel the Royals’ second Golden Era, helping the team win the 2015 World Series a year after Kansas City won its first American League pennant since the 1985 World Series championship season. The third overall selection of the 2008 MLB Draft, he reached the big leagues in 2011 and retired after the 2023 season. He spent his first seven seasons in the majors with the Royals, joining Alex Gordon (MSHOF 2020), Lorenzo Cain (MSHOF 2023), Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez in resurrecting a franchise starved for success. Hosmer hit .284 with 127 home runs and had a .781 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and won four Gold Gloves as a first baseman. No one will forget his “Mad Dash” in the top of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, as Hosmer scored from third base on Perez’s broken-bat ground ball to third base, with Hosmer breaking for the plate after the throw to first base. The Royals won the game in extra innings. A year later, he earned his lone All-Star selection and was named All-Star Game MVP. He later played for the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, finishing with 1,753 hits, including 198 home runs and 893 RBI.

Casey Wiegmann – Kansas City Chiefs

A former University of Iowa standout, Wiegmann played 16 seasons in the National Football League, including nine seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2001 to 2007, and again in 2010 and 2011. He made 175 career starts – and never missed one – and that covered 11,162 snaps. Both statistics are NFL records. In his time in Kansas City, the Chiefs won the AFC West Division and finished 13-3 in 2003, reached the playoffs again in 2006 in a 9-7 season, and won the division in 2010 when the Chiefs finished 10-6. It was quite a career, as Wiegmann played for three teams in his first three seasons in the National Football League  and finished his career with the Chiefs after two seasons in Denver. Years earlier, he was hardly recruited out of high school but yet earned starts from 1991 to 1995 at Iowa, where he was the team MVP his senior year when the Hawkeyes played in the Sun Bowl.

Betty Lennox – Fort Osage High School/Butler County & Trinity Valley Jucos/Louisiana Tech/WNBA

At Fort Osage High School in Independence, Lennox was a two-time, Class 4 All-State selection in 1994 and 1995, with the 1995 team finishing 27-1, the best record in school history. She later earned all-conference honors at Bulter County Community College in Kansas and starred at Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, where in 1997 she helped the Lady Cardinals win the NJCAA Championship. Lennox was the MVP of the tournament. At Louisiana Tech, Lennox helped the Lady Techsters to a 61-6 record in two seasons, including a Final Four in 1999. She was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year her final year. Lennox then played 12 seasons in the WNBA, playing for seven teams. She was the sixth overall selection of the 2000 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx and was the 2000 Rookie of the Year – and the first rookie to play in the WNBA All-Star Game. She soldiered on after breaking her hip in 2001 and later helped Seattle win the 2004 WNBA championship – and won Finals MVP. Overall, she scored more than 3,000 points and snared more than 1,000 rebounds. She was voted to the Lynx 25-year Legend Team and the Seattle All-Legend Team. She is currently the Director of Homefield Kansas City, along with roles in the WNBA.

Ben McCollum – Northwest Missouri State University Men’s Basketball Coach

McCollum is one of the most successful college basketball coaches in state history, and in NCAA Division II for that matter. This season marks his 15th in Maryville. His teams have won four national championships (2017, 2019, 2021, 2022), as well as 13 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) regular-season titles and eight MIAA Tournament titles. He has been named the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year five times – the most in NABC D-II history – and in 2019 alone was the John McLendon National Coach of the Year for all divisions, and Coach of the Year for the Basketball Times,, and the Kansas City Sports Awards. McCollum also is a nine-time MIAA Coach of the Year and was the Clarence “Big House” Gaines National Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2020. After Tuesday night’s D-II Regional Championship, McCollum is 394-91 since his taking over the program ahead of the 2009-2010 season. McCollum is a native of Storm Lake, Iowa who played for Northwest Missouri State in the early 2000s.

Dale Eshelbrenner – Tennis Coach

Eshelbrenner was inducted posthumously eight years after his passing at age 56 following a battle with cancer. He served as the tennis director at Indian Hills Country Club in the summers beginning in 1989, and that role lasted 27 years. There, the program grew from a handful of players to hundreds of youths and adults. He then coached tennis at Pembroke Hill School from 1991 to 2016, guiding the girls and boys teams to a combined 20 state titles. Thirteen of those were for the boys program, which is being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2024. He taught middle school physical education and was assistant coach to the girls basketball team. He was named the U.S. Professional Tennis Association’s Coach of the Year in 2012 and received the National Federation of High Schools National Coach of the Year in 2006. Eshelbrenner was a 1978 graduate of Fort Scott High School in Kansas, where he was a member of the 1977 state championship basketball team. He also won a state tennis title in 1978 and was a McDonald’s All-American in basketball. He later graduated from Bethany College in 1982, having led the tennis team to a top 10 NAIA finish while he achieved a top 25 national singles ranking.

Pembroke Hill School Boys Tennis Program

One of the state’s most storied programs in any sport resides in Kansas City. The boys tennis program at Pembroke Hill School – and its predecessor, Pembroke Hill Country Day School – has earned a state-best 43 top four finishes in state tournament play. That includes a state record 23 state championships, which cover the following seasons: 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2022 and 2023. Hilliard Hughes coached the teams in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Karen Boulware coached the state title teams from 1988 to 1990, followed by Dale Eshelbrenner from 1991 to 2016, Justin Romick in 2017, and Scott Hanover the past two seasons. Additionally, the program was a state runner-up seven times, and earned 11 third-place and two fourth-place finishes. The program has had six individual state champions, with John Rippey (1978, 1979, 1980) a three-peat champion and Albin Polonyi a winner in 1990 and 1991. Pembroke Hill has had 12 doubles champions, including four in the late 1960s. The program was established more than 70 years ago and won Kansas City district titles in 1968-1972.

Mike DeArmond – Sportswriter

A 1968 graduate of Joplin High School, DeArmond earned a degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1972. He then went on to a 40-year career as a sportswriter, retiring from the Kansas City Star in 2012. In his career, he was one of the first journalists on the scene and wrote the front-page story of the tragic skywalk collapse at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on July 17, 1981. He covered eight Olympic games: Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Albertville, Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City. He also was one of 16 U.S. journalists to accompany the U.S. Olympic Committee for a site inspection tour of Cuba and coverage of the 1991 Pan American Games. He eventually produced an 11-story series on life in Cuba, and breaking news stories on interviews with Fidel Castro. In his four decades at the Star and Kansas City Times, he covered the National Basketball Association’s Kansas City-Omaha Kings (1973-1978), the Royals (1973-1980) and the University of Missouri (1989-2012). DeArmond also served time as an editor at the newspaper, as an assistant city editor when there was both morning and evening editions, and as an assistant sports editor. He has won numerous awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Missouri Press Association.

Dr. Vincent Key – Sports Medicine, Kansas City Royals

Dr. Key is in his 14th season as the Medical Director and Head Team Physician for the Royals. He currently is an associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery/Sports Medicine at the University of Kansas Health System (Department of Orthopedic Surgery) and, in 2022, was the president of the Major League Baseball Team Physicians Association. Dr. Key has also served on the medical advisory committee for Major League Baseball and is an associate physician with USA Track and Field. A graduate of Spring Hill (Kan.) High School, he received his bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine at Kansas State University, where he was also a track and field athlete. He attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and did an Orthopedic Surgery residency at King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Key completed a Sports Medicine Fellowship with Wellington Orthopedics/University of Cincinnati. He is certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery with a sub certification in sports medicine. It was a natural fit, as he grew up in the health care field. Other than his work with the Royals, he has a passion for treating young athletes. He specializes in arthroscopic procedures and the treatment of shoulder, elbow and knee injuries for professional athletes, young athletes and weekend warriors.

Phil Dorman – Platte County High School Wrestling Coach

Dorman was the head coach of Platte County’s wrestling program from 1994 to 2013. He led the Pirates to seven state championships. Those years cover 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010. The team earned a state runner-up finish in 1999, placed third in 1997 and fourth in 2003. Overall, he coached 31 individual state champions and 76 other medalists. Along the way, Platte County was 156-35-3 in duals and won 11 conference and nine district championships. He was the Missouri Wrestling Association’s Coach of the Year six times. Dorman has been inducted into five other halls of fame – the Missouri Wrestling Association, Platte County Wrestling, Pleasant Hill High School Wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Missouri chapter and Platte County High School. He also served as Platte County’s athletic director from 2004 to 2020 and was named the Kansas City Interscholastic Activities Association Athletic Director of the Year in 2019. He is a graduate of Pleasant Hill High School and the University of Central Missouri.

Platte County High School Wrestling Era of 1999-2010

The Platte County High School wrestling program emerged in the late 1990s as one of the state’s best in the small-school ranks. The Pirates earned nine top four finishes in that stretch, including seven state championships. The state title years cover 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010. The team earned a state runner-up finish in 1999 and placed fourth in 2003. The Pirates won 27 individual state championships in the era, with Chase Verdoorn (2000, 2001, 2002) and Tyler St. Louis (2005, 2007,2008) winning three each. The other state champions were Jeremy Duncan (1999), Bobby Fisher (2000, 2001), Brett Rolofson (2001, 2002), Jake Fisher (2001, 2002), Kiel Giese, Zach Sherman (2001, 2002), Jordan Hobbs, Brock Wittmeyer, Caleb Dixon, Jake Mallonee (2004, 2005), Julian Gunnels, Joe Pace, Collin Wittmeyer (2008, 2009) and Blaine Conner. The 2001 team set multiple records, including most points scored at a state tournament (265.5), the largest winning margin (133.5), most individual champions (seven, tied with two others) and most medalists at a single state tournament (12, tied with two others).

Dr. Ashley Wysong – Nevada High School/University of Missouri/U.S. Track & Field/Nike Athletics

At Nevada, Wysong was a five-time Class 3 state champion in the 400 meters (1995, 1996, 1997 state record 56.08) and 200 meters (1996, 1997). At Mizzou, she was a six-time NCAA All-American in the 800 meters and national champion on the record-breaking distance medley relay team. Wysong earned 16 All-Big 12 honors, winning the conference title and setting the record in the outdoor 800 meters in 2000. She placed third at the 2000 NCAA Outdoor (MU-record of 2:02.94), ran in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, and won the silver medal in the Pan-American Games. Upon graduation, Wysong held Mizzou records in both the indoor and outdoor 800 meters and relay records in the indoor distance medley, outdoor 4×400, and outdoor 4×800. All individual records and two of three relay records stand to this day. Wysong ran for the Nike Farm Team and competed in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800 after returning from two knee surgeries. Dr. Wysong is currently Professor and Chair of Dermatology at the University of Nebraska, where she is a skin cancer surgeon, researcher and educator.

Plattsburg High School 1979 State Championship Football Team

Coached by Jim Freeman, the Plattsburg High School football team won the 1979 state championship,  beating Marceline 12-7 and finishing 12-0 to win Class 2. In the finals, Plattsburg led 12-0 at halftime and then turned back its opponent twice inside the 5-yard line. An interception iced the game with about 2 minutes left. It was a remarkable season, considering Plattsburg had reached the playoffs only one other previous season, in 1972. The Tigers were not even picked to win the KC-10 Conference but outscored their opponents 287-39. Most games were blowouts, except for a 20-6 season-opening victory against West Platte. They also won 15-0 against Smithville in Week 6, and beat Stockton 28-6 in the state semifinals. Eleven players earned postseason honors, with offensive tackle Dan Booth, punter Troy McKay, defensive end David Adam, quarterback Cory Wohlford and guard Scott Taylor earning All-State honors. Assistant coaches were Joe Trotter, George Garrett and Bill Lankford.

Hickman Mills High School Girls Basketball Era 1977-1980

Hickman Mill’s girls basketball teams won state championships in 1977, 1979 and 1980 while coached by Clyde Cozard, who had come aboard in the fall of 1975 when the school first offered a girls basketball team. Overall, the teams in the four years were a combined 105-10. The 1977 team finished 26-1 after beating Bishop DeBourg 40-34 in the finals. All five starters went on to play in college – Doris Woolery at Harvard University, Kathy Kunkler at William Woods College, Carol Hudgins at Iowa State and Barb Gudde and Stephanie Miller at Missouri Western State University. That team beat Lindbergh by a single point in the semifinals, after scoring a 35-33 victory against Truman High School in the regional final. The 1978 team lost to Lee’s Summit in the regional finals, but the 1979 team responded. The 1979 team beat Lee’s Summit 50-40 to win it all and logged a 27-2 record. Laura Williams, Carol Bates and Carrie Bates were all-conference selections, with Williams and Carrie Bates earning All-State. The 1980 team edged McCluer North 50-48 in the championship game and finished 27-4. Carrie Bates, Brenda Howell and Karnie Wilkie were all-conference, with Bates and Howell All-State.

Fred Flook – William Jewell College Baseball Coach

Flook coached baseball at William Jewell College from 1962-1970 and again from 1975-2001. In his 34 seasons, his teams were 740-600-5, with the 1968 team winning the NAIA national championship – the first and only team in school history with a national crown. That team also won the Missouri Collegiate Athletic Union, NAIA District 16 and NAIA Area 3 titles and was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Seven other teams reached the NAIA Tournament, including the 1976, 1977 and 1983 teams. The 1976 team set the school record in wins (42), but the 1977 team topped it with 43 victories. The 1983 team was 36-12 and won the conference for the 15th time in 17 years. Flook also guided the Cardinals to 23 conference titles. Along with baseball, Flook also was an assistant coach for football and served 10 years as the head wrestling coach. Flook, also a member of the NAIA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, is retired and living near Cape Girardeau.

Porter Ellett – The Art Hains Inspiration Award

Despite the use of only one arm, Ellett has proven that you can make a difference at the highest level. And that is why the Kansas City Chiefs’ assistant coach was honored with the Art Hains Inspiration Award. It is named in honor of the Voice of the Missouri State University Bears and the in-studio host of the Chiefs Radio Network who in 2023 battled back from a near-death experience following a West Nile virus diagnosis. The Chiefs’ recent Super Bowl marked the end of Ellett’s seventh season with coach Andy Reid’s staff, as he was in his first year as assistant running backs coach after three seasons as an offensive quality control coach and three seasons as Reid’s senior assistant. Ellett lost the use of his right arm in an accident at age 4 and had it surgically removed at 16. Nevertheless, he worked on his family’s Utah farm and played high school baseball, basketball and ran track. He graduated from Brigham Young University with an economics degree but turned to sports management at Baylor University. Ellett reached the NFL and now gives motivational speeches in addition to working for the Chiefs.


Anthony Caenepeel – Willard High School/Northwest Missouri State University

At Willard, Caenepeel earned First Team All-State honors after helping Willard to a fourth-place finish in the state tournament. He was a combined 12-4 in his final two seasons there, with earned run averages of 2.21 and 1.51, respectively, with a combined 84 strikeouts in 68 innings. After one season at North Central Community College, Caenepeel made a tremendous impact in three seasons at Northwest Missouri State. He was a three-time All-MIAA selection (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association), including First Team All-MIAA in his senior year of 2017. That spring, he was voted the conference Pitcher of the Year as he set a program single-season record with 114 strikeouts in 106.2 innings. He finished his career as the Bearcats’ career leader in strikeouts (267) and innings pitched (278). He also earned All-Region honors from three organizations, including the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings. He was 8-5 with a 3.12 earned run average that season. These days, Caenepeel is the pitching coach of Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Tim Dougherty – O’Hara High School/Rockhurst University

Dougherty was a standout at O’Hara High School in the mid-1990s, with his senior year seeing him bat .634 with seven home runs. He later was inducted into the school’s athletics hall of fame. He then stayed in town and was one of the top outfielders in Rockhurst University history from 1998-2000. He ended his college career as the Hawks’ career leader in RBI (210), triples (14) and home runs (44). He helped lead the Hawks to 112 victories and two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in 1999. That year, Dougherty was selected as the Regional Tournament MVP and named to the Division II Championship All-Series team. That came a year after he was the MVP of the Ban Johnson League, a premier summer collegiate league. He signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2000 but injuries cut short his career. He later coached youth baseball. These days, he is the general manager of Surgical Division and Midwest Medical in Overland Park, Kan.

Greg Kastner – Christian Brothers College High School/Missouri Western State University

A 1970 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, Kastner has been involved in baseball his entire life. In three seasons (1971-1973) at Missouri Western, he was an Honorable Mention All-American pitcher, as well as a First Team NAIA All-District and a First Team NAIA All-Area. Overall, he compiled an 18-6 record and 2.20 earned run average, with 238 strikeouts — which for many years ranked in the top five in program history. In one stretch, he did not allow an earned run in 46 2/3 consecutive innings. At one point, he established single-season records for fewest hits and fewest runs allowed in a season. Kastner later signed with the Atlanta Braves and found his way back to Bishop LeBlond as head baseball coach and athletic director. He coached baseball from 1987 to 2016, with a 386-240 record (.626). His baseball teams won 12 district championships, including seven consecutive from 1988 to 1994. He also served as athletic director for 39 years. Kastner has been a public address announcer for multiple sports for 40 years, including the NCAA Division II Softball Championships.

Ali Jo Rogers Locher – Medicine Lodge (Kan.) High School/University of Central Missouri

Talk about making a huge impact. That is exactly what Locher did at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg after starring at Medicine Lodge High School in south central Kansas. She played for the Jennies from 2013 to 2016, helping the 2015 team reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Upon graduation, she had landed in 50 statistical categories for single game, single season and career in UCM’s record book. Locher played in 211 games and finished with 192 hits. She also is the only Jennie with more than 100 career stolen bases, having swiped 129, or 48 more than the next closest player on the list. She was a three-time All-MIAA selection and was the 2016 MIAA Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the only Jennie to earn the honor. Locher was a volunteer coach in 2017, and then a graduate assistant in 2018 and 2019. These days, she is a physical education teacher at Ray-Pec East Middle School and coaches softball for the high school, which placed third at state last fall.

Sarah Baldwin Miller –
Chillicothe High School/University of Evansville/Northwest Missouri State University

A 2012 graduate of Chillicothe, Miller was a four-time All-State selection as a pitcher, including First Team Class 3, as well as all-conference and all-district all four seasons. She also was named the St. Joseph News Press Softball Player of the Year three times (2009, 2010, 2011), finishing her career with 87 wins and 1,157 strikeouts. She helped the Lady Hornets to a state runner-up finish in 2011. Baldwin started 11 games at Evansville in 2013 and then had three memorable seasons in Maryville, where she ended her career ranked fourth in Northwest Missouri State history with 302 strikeouts and in the top 10 in innings pitched (405.1), shutouts (nine) and victories (30). She was All-MIAA her senior year, when she also was twice named MIAA Pitcher of the Week and threw a perfect game against Northeastern State, the Bearcats’ first no-hitter in more than six years. These days, she is a physical therapist in Columbia, where she owns Revive Rehab and specializes in women’s health and general orthopedics.

Jeff Niemeier – Oak Park High School/University of Kansas

Niemeier was a standout for the Oak Park High School baseball teams of the mid- to late 1980s, including on their 1987 state championship team. In fact, a home run that sailed across the street at Oak Park’s ballpark still lives in lore. He hit .420 his sophomore and junior years and was a two-time all-conference and all-metro selection. Despite missing his senior season due to an injury, Niemeier went on to the University of Kansas, where he became a 1993 Second Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association as he helped the Jayhawks to the College World Series. He also was First Team All-Big 8 Conference that season after hitting .378 with 10 home runs and 63 RBI as a catcher. He also was named First Team All-Big 8 as a first baseman in 1991. He finished his Kansas career with a .360 batting average, 26 home runs and a school-record 187 RBI before being drafted in the 18th round by the Cincinnati Reds. The Jayhawks’ top hitter award is now called the Jeff Niemeier Award. These days, he works for Titan Surgical Group, LLC in Lenexa, Kan.

Haley Pypes – Platte County High School/United States Military Academy/Missouri Southern

Pypes is being honored posthumously a year and a half after she passed away in January 2023 following a battle with cancer. At Platte County, she was a three-time All-State pitcher, including first team selection in 2008 and 2009. She played four varsity seasons, and was a four-time all-region, all-district and all-conference selection, and earned team MVP all four years. Along the way, she led Platte County to three consecutive state tournaments, winning it all in 2008. The Pirates placed fourth in 2007 and third in 2009. She also pitched for the Originals 18 Gold Team and the Peppers Gold team. Even though she only had 99 at bats, she led the Patriot League with 10 home runs. She led the league with a slugging percentage .773 and an OPS of 1146. Pypes was named West Point Spring Sport Athlete of the Week for the week that she slugged five home runs. Pypes played at Missouri Southern in Joplin from 2012 to 2014. Her 6.46 strikeouts per seven innings rank third all-time in program history. She had 10 complete games in 2012, when she pitched nearly 120 innings.

Amanda Self – Blue Springs High School/Emporia State University

A 2009 graduate of Blue Springs High School, Self was a four-year starter for the Blue Springs softball team and was a rarity – she earned First Team All-State honors all four seasons. She also was named to the All-Kansas City Metro team all four seasons and was the Independence Examiner’s Player of the Year in 2007. At Emporia State, she was named honorable mention All-MIAA as a freshman, a Third Team All-American and First Team All-South Central Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Self was a First Team All-MIAA the next year. These days, she is a biology teacher at Liberty North High School.

Jeremy Strack – Gardner (Kan.) High School/Fort Scott Community College/William Jewell College

A 2004 graduate of Gardner Edgerton High School, Strack was an All-Frontier League shortstop in addition to playing football and basketball. At Fort Scott Community College, he earned First Team All-Jayhawk Conference as a second baseman as a sophomore. At William Jewell, he secured First Team All-Heart of America Athletic Conference selections and won the HAAC Gold Glove Award twice. Additionally, as a senior, he was named First Team All-Region and a First Team NCAA Division II All-American after he hit .422 with 14 doubles, six triples and 12 home runs. He also led the nation in steals, with 62. Overall in his two seasons, he posted 99 steals, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 16 home runs, batting .386. As a senior in 2008, he also was selected for the Cecil Martin Award for Male Athlete of the Year. Strack, who later spent a decade coaching college and high school baseball, now runs a lawn care business with his wife, Lauren, and coaches his two sons Cooper(9) and Colton(7) in Grove, Okla.


Special Olympics Missouri

Special Olympics Missouri provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. Globally, the organization is the world’s largest sports organization with nearly 5 million athletes in more than 170 countries. It also is a social movement. With initiatives to activate youth, engage kids and adults with intellectual disabilities, build communities and improve the health of our athletes, Special Olympics is changing the game for people young and old.

Police Athletic League of Kansas City

The Police Athletic League of Kansas City (PAL) offers fun, interactive programs for youth and Kansas City Police Department officers. PAL is rooted in the belief that all youth deserve the opportunity to expand their horizons and realize their full potential. From mountain biking to playing on the PAL baseball field, the league offers a wide range of activities that build kids’ confidence, motivation and offers a positive role model. In all PAL activities, a life skills curriculum is presented by PAL officers and all PAL youth are required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average in school or attend tutoring and make a good faith effort to raise their GPA. For KCPD officers, they learn as much from the kids as the kids learn from them. The PAL of Kansas City is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that began as a community-oriented project in 1994 through Westside CAN Center in KCPD’s Central Patrol Division. In 1998, PAL obtained membership in the National Association of Police Athletic Leagues and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) with a board of directors and certification in the state of Missouri. All activities are funded through private donations and grants. No PAL activities are funded through the department.