Sunday, June 18, 2017

Best of Sports Talk available as a free download through Thursday

For approximately 14 years, I wrote more than 1,000 Sports Talk columns at the Lamar Democrat and Carthage Press telling the stories about the people who played the games. My e-book collection of 35 of the best stories, The Best of Sports Talk, is available as a free download now through Thursday.

The columns featured in the Best of Sports Talk are described below:

1. Football Coaches Don't Cry- Seneca Coach Alvin Elbert meets his eight-year-old pen-pal Abby Phipps of Lamar, the wheelchair-bound victim of a drunk driver.

2. A Bases-Loaded Intentional Walk- My tribute to the late Gary Shepherd, tells a story from my youth when the coach of my Little League team, Brad Letts, decided to walk the best player on the other team, his brother, Steve Letts, with the bases loaded. (Gary was the coach of Steve's team.)

3. She Will Always Be With Us- Webb City cheerleader Miranda Yocum (now Joplin City Council member Miranda Lewis) talks about the death of her aunt, Nancy Cruzan, whose right-to-die case went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

4. Stacey and the Magic Free Throw- The story of how a non-existent free throw enabled the Mt. Vernon girls team to beat Carthage in double overtime, despite the best efforts of Stacey Brunnert.

5. Gary Embry's Memory Lives On- Rita Embry talks about her son, former Lamar High School and Missouri Southern great Gary Embry, who was killed in a car accident.

6. Under Mom's Watch- Peggy Lucas watches as her daughter, Carthage senior Tysha Lucas, plays her final high school volleyball match.

7. The Days of Swine and Roses- The day Jasper County Youth Fair princess (and pig-catching expert), Christy Olson got the munchies and lost a friend.

8. Just Five Minutes- The real-life horror story of former Lamar coach Armando DeLaRosa, who committed suicide moments after murdering his wife.

9. The Love of Baseball- My interviews with the former KOM minor league players as they played in an oldtimers game 50 years after their glory days.

10. Past His Bedtime- Today, he's Springfield Parkview's basketball coach, but in this story former Webb City basketball Landon Cornish was only six years old and had no use for girls whatsoever.

11. Remembering Harry Caray- My thoughts after the death of the broadcasting legend

12. This Is My Class, Too- Jamie Turner, a Carthage High School graduate, returns to watch her former classmates and teammates at Sarcoxie High School graduate.

13. Smiles at the End of their Rainbows- The first graders who he volunteered to help every day were the ones hit the hardest when Lamar swimmer Brandon Teel died suddenly from spinal meningitis.

14. Girls in the Big Gym- The column I wrote that put an end forever to having Carthage High School girls basketball games in the undersized physical education building instead of the big gym.

15. Cruel Words- When she was in junior high, adults said Webb City volleyball and basketball player Kari Perry would never amount to anything. She tells the story of how she fought back with the help of her coach.

16. Return of a Legend- Twenty-five years after leading Jasper to two straight undefeated football seasons, Bill McClintock returns to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

17. The Game Ball- Lamar's Jim Hillman presents the game ball to his grandfather, Tom O'Sullivan, at the dedication of the stadium named after O'Sullivan.

18. Carthage's King Carl- The story of New York Giants great Carl Hubbell and how he struck out five future Hall-of-Famers in a row at the 1934 All-Star Game. (Hubbell was born near Carthage.)

19. First Kiss- When she was crowned Lamar High School Basketball Homecoming Queen, senior Leigh Hughes received her first kiss in front of 1,500 people. That was the hook Leigh's sister, Lindsay, used to get students to vote for Leigh. But there was another secret that no one knew at the time.

20. She Said Yes- The follow-up, two years later, to the previous story, as Leigh Hughes' boyfriend offers a surprise wedding proposal, and once again it was in front of 1,500 people.

21. Tiger Pride- Polite to referees, but downright mean while playing defense, Carthage junior Brandi Richardson (now a Joplin R-8 teacher) receives the Tiger Pride award at the basketball banquet.

22. The Final 16 Seconds- The high school football career of Jasper senior Stacy Maggard comes to an end.

23. Waffling- This unusual column pairs the serves of Carthage junior varsity volleyball player Stephanie Greenwood with breakfast food.

24. Love and Haiti- While her Lamar teammates were playing in a brand new gym at the Aurora Tournament, Kelly Stahl teaches Haitian children how to play on a dirt court.

25. Beating the Odds- A Liberal barber survives brain surgery and holds off death for a few days longer to accept a special award for years of supporting the school's athletic teams.

26. Taking the Wrong Path- Carthage junior varsity basketball player Alicia Peters was great with the steals, but did not always take the ball in the right direction.

27. My Little Brother's Face- Lockwood High School reacts to the suicide of a freshman football player.

28. As Time Ran Out- Webb City guard Jennifer Lawrence takes one last shot at a district basketball championship.

29. Smelling the Silver- He played in one of the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl games in history, but more than four decades later, it is still the Silver Tiger game between Lamar and Nevada that ranks first in Pete Ihm's memory.

30. My Comeback- A first person account of my return to baseball, playing in the Granby Old Mining Town Days Oldtimers Game.

31. Family and Friends- When his house burned down, Lamar guard Michael Miller learned what was important.

32. A Shining Star- On the day when everyone thought she would be headed to the state volleyball championship, funeral services were held for Diamond senior Kelli Dorsey.

33. A New Home- After spending all of her life in the small town of Henderson, Nebraska, volleyball player Andrea Friesen moves to the big city (Carthage) for her senior year.

34. The Power of Prayer- After an ACLU protest, the pre-game prayer over the loudspeaker at Lamar football games was stopped, but more than 100 people gathered in the end zone to pray.

35. Second Chance- He nearly died when a trash dumpster fell on him, but only a few years later, Carthage wide receiver Shaine Sundy received a scholarship to play football at MSSC.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Baltimore Orioles draft MSSU third baseman

(From MSSU Lions Athletic News)

Missouri Southern senior third baseman Max Hogan has been drafted in the 32nd round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft by the Baltimore Orioles in day three of the event today.

Hogan becomes the 15th player from Missouri Southern to be drafted and the fourth of head coach Bryce Darnell, joining Logan Moon (6th Rd., 2014 - KC), Joe Lincoln (34th Rd., 2010 - LAD), and Justin Beal (29th Rd., 2009 - PHI).

Hogan was the 2017 MIAA Player of the Year and was named an All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the D2 Conference Commissioner's Association. He was also named an All-Region pick by each of those organizations.

This season, Hogan led the MIAA in seven different offensive categories, including walks, home runs, on-base percentage, RBIs, slugging and total bases. Hogan ranked second nationally in walks, while also ranking seventh in on-base percentage, 12th in total bases, 14th in doubles and 15th in slugging. In total, Hogan ranked in the top 20 nationally in five different categories.

He helped the Lions destroy the previous school record in home runs with 81 this year, breaking last year's mark of 66. This season, Hogan led the Lions with a .390 average, 15 home runs, 20 doubles and 59 RBIs. He slugged .745, had a .528 on-base percentage and went 15-18 on the basepaths.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Newsmakers program focuses on Joplin Outlaws

Thursday, June 8, 2017

MSSU to add junior varsity basketball programs

(From MSSU Lions Athletic News)

The Missouri Southern Athletics Department has announced the addition of junior varsity programs for both the men's and women's basketball teams as well as tryout dates for both teams.

The teams will be coached by assistant coaches Paul McMahon and Jamesia Price. All student-athletes will be expected to abide by all NCAA regulations for compliance and eligibility.

Those interested in competing can contact women's head coach Ronnie Ressel at or by phone at 417-625-9613 for information on the women's team. For the men, please contact assistant coach Paul McMahon at 417-625-9697 or by email at

The teams will have two tryouts each in the months of June and July. The men will kick things off with a tryout at 5 pm on June 29 inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center and will hold a second tryout on July 10that 5 pm, as well. The women will hold tryouts on July 11 and 13, both at 5:30 pm inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

The tryouts are open to incoming freshmen and first-time (transfer) Missouri Southern students only. Student-athletes will need proof of insurance and a copy of a recent physical prior to being allowed to tryout.

MSSC youth soccer camp postponed

(From MSSU Lions Athletic News)

Due to unforeseen circumstances the 2017 Youth Soccer Camp has been postponed to August 7th through the 10th.

"Everything will remain the same [time, cost, etc.]," said head coach Chris McNaughton. "We hope everyone is able to come in August and if they know other families with kids who may be interested in coming, they can still sign up at"

2017 Missouri Southern Soccer Summer Camp
August 7-10, 2017
Missouri Southern State University
Hal Bodon Field
August 7-10 - 9 - 11 am
Check in August 7 8:30 am
Cost - $75
Camp is open to both boys and girls ages 7-13
Make Checks Payable to MSSU Soccer

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Alex Smith reacts to Chiefs' decision to release Jeremy Maclin

The Kansas City Chiefs released former MU wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who has been with the team two years.

Maclin had also played for Coach Andy Reid when Reid was with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the accompanying video from Kansas City 41 Action News, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith reacts to the news.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

MSSU women's basketball fundraiser scheduled

(From MSSU Athletics)

Women's Basketball Fundraiser
  • $100 per person with dinner and drinks included
  • $1,000 table sponsorships available
  • $50 player meal sponsorship available
All proceeds go towards the
MSSU Women's Basketball Program.
Sponsored by Laferla Ortho, Moe's and Missouri Eagle.
Hosted by Michael & Bre Laferla.
RSVP by Thursday, June 8th at