Former St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel and three high school coaches – the late Howard Bell, Centralia’s Jill Angel and Ozark’s Mike Essick – can call themselves Hall of Famers along with the Ozark High School Baseball Program and the St. Louis Browns Baseball Club.
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted the contingent Thursday during its Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company. President & Executive Director Jerald Andrews presided over the event, which drew a crowd of nearly 900 to the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield.
Additionally, the Hall of Fame bestowed its President’s Award on John Cyrus, who recently retired after almost 27 years with the Missouri Highway Patrol, and recognized the Diamond 9, a group of former high school, college and pro baseball and softball standouts who made positive impacts in the game.
The Diamond 9 presented by B.J.’s Trophy Shop featured Clint Anderson (Willard High School, Crowder College & Charleston Southern University baseball), Nolan Fogle (Plato High School baseball & USSSA/ASA/NSA softball), Tina Ruble Helm (Lebanon High School & Southwest Baptist University softball), Jamie Holmes (Republic High School, Crowder College & Columbia College softball), Greg Lindstrom (Glendale High School & University of Missouri baseball), Jarrod Mays (El Dorado Springs High School, Missouri State University, Team USA & Cleveland Indians baseball), Raeven Replogle (Webb City High School & Missouri State University softball), Carlie Rose (Nixa High School, University of Missouri & University of Central Missouri softball) and Blake Wixson (Hillcrest High School & Drury University baseball).
Rick Ankiel – St. Louis Cardinals
Ankiel was one of the most intriguing talents ever to walk across the sports page. Overall, he spent 17 seasons in pro baseball, with his first 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. A left-handed pitcher, he was an 11-game winner and finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, when he helped St. Louis reach the National League Championship Series. Then, seven years later, Ankiel returned to the majors as a hitter. He spent 2007-2009 with St. Louis, with Ankiel in 2008 joining Babe Ruth as the only two players in a single MLB season to hit 25 home runs after previously starting at least 25 games as a pitcher. He went on to play for the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and New York Mets and retired after the 2013 season.
Jill Angell – Centralia High School Softball Coach
A 1979 Meadville High School graduate, Jill Angell coached Centralia High School’s softball program for 19 seasons, from 1999 to 2017. She compiled a record of 355-123-1 and, under her watch, the Lady Panthers won four state championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016), with the 2016 team finishing a program-best 29-1. Her teams also captured 11 district titles and eight conference championships. Angell was the 2012 Missouri Softball Coach of the Year, was inducted into the Missouri High School FastPitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, was voted the Clarence Cannon Conference Coach of the Year from 2010 to 2017 and earned Coach of the Year in 2017 from The Columbia Tribune. It was quite a career for Angell, who previously coached at Centralia Middle School in the 1980s before stepping away from the game for several years in order to raise a family.
Howard Bell – the late Glendale High School Baseball Coach
Howard Bell was inducted posthumously for his tremendous work in baseball. He was a standout player at Parkview High School and later for Missouri State University, where he was the 1986 Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year as a shortstop. He then coached for 28 seasons at Glendale High School, where he served as head coach from 2006 to 2012 as his teams won four Ozark Conference championships as part of an 87-69 record. Combined, he earned well north of 800 high school and American Legion victories. Bell also started the softball program at Glendale. Sadly, Bell passed away in March 2013 at age 48 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Mike Essick – Ozark High School Baseball Coach
Mike Essick recently completed his 24th season as head coach of the Ozark High School baseball program and is now 449-210. He has led the Tigers to four Final Fours, with the club winning two state championships – the Class 3 title in 2004 and the Class 4 title in 2008. He also led the 2002 team to a state runner-up finish, while Ozark placed fourth in 2011. Along the way, his teams have won six district championships and 14 Central Ozark Conference crowns. Essick is a 1980 graduate of Spokane High School, having helped that program finish third at the state tournament his senior year. He went on to become an NAIA All-American and the 1984 District 16 Player of the Year for College of the Ozarks, which later inducted him into its hall of fame. Essick has received numerous awards, including two Coach of the Year honors in 2004 – from the National High School Baseball Coaches Association District 5 and the Greater Midwest Professional Baseball Scouts Association. He also was inducted into the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association in 2014.
Ozark High School Baseball Program
The Ozark High School Baseball Program has been among the state’s best since the 1970s, with the coaching lineage tracing back to Jim Nichols in 1975 when the program re-launched after a brief stint in the 1960s. Nichols was followed by coaches Wayne France, Terry Writer, Mark Wheeler and Mike Essick. Overall, the Tigers have reached the state playoffs 10 times and advanced to seven Final Fours. Ozark won state championships in 2004 in Class 3 and in 2008 in Class 4. The program also has finished as state runners-up twice (1979, 1981), third twice (1990, 2002) and then fourth in 2011. Additionally, Ozark has won 10 district titles and 19 Central Ozark Conference championships. The program has produced 24 All-State selections and 74 players who have gone on to play in college, including nine in NCAA Division I. Four players advanced all the way to professional baseball, including pitcher Lucas Harrell, a big-leaguer from 2010 to 2017.
St. Louis Browns Baseball Club
The St. Louis Browns were a Major League Baseball organization from 1902 to 1953, having been created at the dawn of the American League. Despite winning only 3,414 games and losing 4,465 – and winning only one AL pennant (1944) – the Browns were part of the sports fabric of Missouri. Fortunately, their story has been kept alive through the St. Louis Browns Historical Society. A 2017 book titled, “The St. Louis Browns: The Story of a Beloved Team” was ranked No. 1 among the year’s Top 50 books by Sports Collectors Digest. Additionally, a documentary film called The St. Louis Browns: The Team That Baseball Forgot recently set a record for local pledges and viewers on St. Louis’ PBS station. The Browns are intertwined into St. Louis sports history, as their ownership built Sportsman’s Park, and the club featured two batting champions in George Stone (1906) and Hall of Famer George Sisler (1920, 1922). Overall, the Browns enjoyed their best seasons between 1916 and 1936.
John Cyrus – President’s Award
The President’s Award is bestowed on individuals who go above and beyond in their support of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. A longtime Mount Vernon resident, Cyrus is the 2014 U.S. Senior Long Drive champion and a 2016 Regional Champion in the World Long Drive Championships. For nearly a decade, he has helped fund-raise for the Hall of Fame at its Celebrity Golf Classics by hitting long drive shots for participating players. He also has played in pro-ams of the PGA Web.com Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, which has gifted more than $14.7 million in its 28-year history. Cyrus is a 1981 Camdenton High School graduate who played football, baseball, basketball and competed in track there before attending Southwest Baptist University and Missouri State University. Cyrus later played men’s major slow pitch softball with Bolivar-based MFA Oil and Springfield’s Mazzio’s Pizza.
Clint Anderson, Willard High School, Crowder College & Charleston Southern
Anderson was a two-time All-State selection in 2002 and 2003 for Willard High School, leading the Tigers to the Final Four his senior season with both his bat and arm. That year, he struck out 93 batters and also set the school record with a .559 batting average, which stood for eight years. He then was a two-way player for Crowder College in Neosho, hitting 12 home runs, driving in a team-best 46 runners and striking out 30 in 46 innings. He went on to sign with Charleston Southern in Charleston, South Carolina. Anderson now builds custom furniture.
Nolan Fogle, Plato High School & USSSA/ASA/NSA Softball
The career and single-season home run record holder at Plato High School has carved out quite a career on the men’s softball circuit. In fact, he has not missed a single inning in the past 29 years and, as President of Fogle Enterprises, has been a team sponsor the past quarter century, with six teams advancing to the USSSA World Series. His 2013 Nightmare club won the C-World Series national title, and he led them to their first USSSA Men’s Major World Series berth last year. That’s in addition to his teams winning six state titles (he was on each All-Tournament team) and, at one point, Nolan’s Team Two won 101 consecutive games. Additionally, just a year ago, Nolan created Benefit the Badge, a softball tournament and other sporting events that have raised more than $180,000 for law enforcement agencies in the Branson area.
Tina Ruble Helm, Lebanon High School & Southwest Baptist University
Helm was a multi-sport athlete for Lebanon High School before graduating in 1986 and then went on to Southwest Baptist University. She owns Southwest Baptist’s second-best single-season batting average (.419 in 1989), fourth-best slugging percentage in a single season (.638) and had 10 triples combined in 1987 and 1988, when she also was the MVP of the MIAA. After college, Helm went into education and recently retired from the Waynesville School District.
Jamie Holmes, Republic High School, Crowder College & Columbia College
Holmes was a three-time All-State selection (2006, 2007, 2008) in softball for Republic High School and then went on to a remarkable collegiate career, first at Crowder College in Neosho and then at Columbia College. She helped Crowder win two Juco region championships. At Columbia College, she started 85 games her final two seasons and, as a senior, was an American Midwest Conference First Team selection and the AMC Player of the Year. That season, she finished with a team-best .406 batting average and 67 hits that included 12 doubles, four triples and five home runs – among her 32 RBI. Holmes is now a substitute teacher in the Springfield area.
Greg Lindstrom, Glendale High School & University of Missouri
Greg Lindstrom was an All-State pitcher for Glendale High School, helping the Falcons reach the 1988 state tournament, and later batted .549 as a senior in 1990. He finished his prep career as a three-time All-Ozark Conference selection, a two-time American Legion All-Star and batted .427 with 94 RBI. He was a four-year letter-winner for the University of Missouri baseball program from 1992 to 1995, going 13-5 in the starting rotation his final three years, leading the team in wins in 1993 and 1994 and serving as team captain in 1995. He has long been employed at Nixon & Lindstrom Insurance in Springfield.
Jarrod Mays, El Dorado Springs High School, Missouri State University, Team USA & Cleveland Indians
Mays was a two-time All-State selection for El Dorado Springs and later returned as its head coach. At Missouri State, he was part of the Bears’ 1995 and 1996 NCAA Tournament teams and earned All-Valley Tournament team both years. Mays is one of eight Bears in history to be selected to Team USA, and was actually the second Bear ever selected. He was drafted in the 11th round in 1993 by the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school but chose to pitch for MSU. After college, he was in pro baseball for six seasons, five in the Cleveland Indians farm system.These days, Mays owns his own construction business.
Raeven Replogle, Webb City High School & Missouri State University
At Webb City, Replogle was an All-State outfielder in 2007 – her fourth year as a starter. That concluded a stretch in which she helped the Cardinals to 112 wins in 121 games and two state championships, including a 32-0 season as a freshman. At Missouri State, she was a key role player and became a senior captain in 2012, a year after helping the Bears reach the NCAA Tournament. Replogle is now working as a counselor at Webb City Junior High School.
Carlie Rose, Nixa High School, University of Missouri & University of Central Missouri
Rose was an All-State selection for Nixa in both 2010 and 2011 and went on to Mizzou, where she was part of two NCAA Tournament teams. In 2013, the Tigers reached an NCAA Super Regional and finished ranked No. 11 in the country, with Rose hitting 3-10 and starting in 31 games. At Central Missouri, she started 108 out of 109 games, and her junior season was one of her best as she batted .342 and had 42 RBI – both second-bests on the team. She is now living in Springfield and working at Bank of America.
Blake Wixson, Hillcrest High School & Drury University
Wixson was a First Team All-State, All-District and All-Ozark Conference selection at Hillcrest High School as a pitcher, graduating in 2006. That season, Wixson led Hillcrest to the Final Four and a fourth-place finish at the state tournament. He then joined Drury University as it re-launched its baseball program and pitched for Drury through 2011, graduating as Drury’s all-time leader in career strikeouts (181). He still owns the strikeout record for a single game at 11. These days, Wixson works for PJC Insurance in Springfield.