Five to be honored at MSHOF Baseball Luncheon

Mark Bailey, the first Missouri State Bears baseball player to reach the big leagues, soon will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame along with former Negro Leagues pitcher John Donaldson, Westran High School’s Kelly Odneal, St. Louis sports writer Rob Rains as well as Mark Stratton, the former Glendale High School and Drury University baseball coach.

President and Executive Director Jerald Andrews on Monday announced the inductees, who will be honored May 25 during the annual Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company. It is set for 11 a.m. at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield.

It’s all part of one of the Hall of Fame’s biggest baseball celebrations in years. The Hall of Fame recently made public that a life-size statue of West Plains High School graduate and former Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bill Virdon, specially cast in bronze, will be unveiled on the Legends Walkway that day. An 8:30 a.m. continental breakfast and a 9 a.m. ceremony is planned at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive in southeast Springfield.

Sponsorship tables of eight for the Baseball Luncheon are $400 and includes recognition in the printed program and an autographed print. An individual ticket is $40, and a head table ticket is $100. Numerous sponsorships are available, including congratulatory ads, by calling 417-889-3100.

Mark Bailey – Baseball Player, Glendale High School & Missouri State University & Houston Astros

Mark Bailey, a Springfield native and Glendale High School graduate, was a standout baseball and basketball player at Missouri State University from 1979 to 1982 and then enjoyed a 13-year pro baseball career. As the first former Bears player to reach the big leagues, Bailey spent portions of seven seasons in the big leagues, from 1984 to 1992, with the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants. In his time at Missouri State, Bailey emerged as a switch-hitting middle infielder who helped the Bears advance to the 1982 NCAA Division II College World Series. He was a two-time NCAA D-II All-American as well as All-Region and All-MIAA. In basketball, he started in more than half of the 73 games he played over three seasons. Bailey is now in his 20th season as a coach in the Astros organization.

John Donaldson – Pitcher, Negro Leagues

A native of Glasgow, Missouri, John Donaldson enjoyed a 33-year career (1908 to 1941) in baseball as he played for 25 teams, mostly in the Negro Leagues and barnstorming circuits. A left-handed pitcher, he won more than 400 games (the most in segregated baseball history) and struck out more than 5,000 batters. However, those statistics likely could be far greater, considering that more than 150 of his known pitching performances have no published strikeout total and more than 200 wins by teams he played for report no pitcher of record. Donaldson was a founding member of the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarchs in 1920, when he pitched, played center field and batted cleanup. In 1949, Donaldson was hired by the Chicago White Sox as a scout, becoming the first African-American full-time scout in Major League Baseball. He passed away in 1970.

Kelly Odneal – Softball & Baseball Coach, Westran High School

Kelly Odneal is the winningest high school softball coach in Missouri history, with a 515-92 record from 1975 to 2007 – mostly at Westran High School (485-89) but also at Jamestown High School. Overall, his softball teams made 15 trips to the state semifinals. Three of his Westran teams won state titles (1987, 1996 and 1999), while the program also placed second eight times, third three times and fourth once. Westran also won 19 district and 21 Lewis and Clark Conference titles. In baseball, Odneal’s teams were a combined 338-123 at Sturgeon and Westran high schools. Two Sturgeon teams (1980, 1982) won state titles, with three Westran teams (1986, 1989, 1990) reaching the state semifinals. Odneal is a 1970 graduate of Prairie Home High School and 1975 graduate of the University of Missouri.

Rob Rains – Sports Writer, St. Louis

Springfield native Rob Rains has been an award-winning sports writer for 37 years. A Kickapoo High School graduate and graduate of the University of Kansas’ School of Journalism, he has authored more than 30 books and hundreds of magazine stories. He is the former National League beat writer for USA Today Baseball Weekly and covered the St. Louis Cardinals for the United Press International as well as the St. Louis Globe Democrat until its demise in the late 1980s. He also won the Freedom Forum Grant as a guest professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Rains has been an official scorer for Major League Baseball postseason games and is a voting member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He currently runs stlsportspage.com, primarily covering the Cardinals.

Mark Stratton – Baseball Coach, Glendale High School & Drury University

Mark Stratton was one of the most successful baseball coaches in the state, first at Glendale High School and then at Drury University. He was at Glendale from 1982 to 2006, either as an assistant coach or the head coach. As the head coach beginning in 1993, Stratton was 244-154 in 13 seasons, winning four district and three Ozark Conference titles. He sent 30 Falcons on to college scholarships. Stratton also coached the Glendale Merchants American Legion program from 1988 to 2002, compiling a 421-243 record which included a 1997 state championship and a runner-up finish in 1998. He was Drury’s baseball coach from the program’s inception in 2007 through 2012, finishing with a record of 175-134. The Panthers never had a losing season, won the 2007 Great Lakes Valley Conference championship and earned four NCAA Division II Tournament berths. Stratton, a graduate of Hillcrest High School and then-Southwest Missouri State who later earned a master’s degree at the University of Missouri, is now the Vice President of Marketing for the US Baseball Park in Ozark.