Inductees photo: From left, Gary Greene representing Mansfield High School Baseball Program, Andy Benes, Alan Benes and Howard Quigley
By Kary Booher
The Benes Brothers of the St. Louis Cardinals – pitchers Andy and Alan – along with former Billings, Aurora and Republic High School baseball coach Howard Quigley and the Mansfield High School Baseball Program are now inductees of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
President and Executive Director Jerald Andrews presided over their inductions during the Hall of Fame’s annual Baseball & Softball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company on Thursday at the Ozark Empire Fairgounds.
The Hall of Fame also recognized the Diamond 9 Awards presented by BJ’s Trophy Shop. They honor former high school, college and professional players, or those who have made significant contributions to the sport. This year’s honorees are: Heather Anderson – Missouri State University; Johnny Eierman – Warsaw High School/Tampa Bay Rays; Kelli Wenberg Eierman – Warsaw High School/Park University; Bill Fischer – Springfield Cardinals; Dallas Hord – Ozark High School/Missouri State University/Miami Marlins; Robert Murders – Southwest Baptist University; Justin Skinner – Hillcrest High School/Drury University; Ryan Vincent – Hollister High School/University of Missouri/Southwest Baptist/Ozark Mtn. Ducks; Taylor White – East Prairie High School/Central Methodist University; and Alex Wise – Neosho High School/Northeastern Oklahoma A&M/University of Oklahoma.
The Benes Brothers of the St. Louis Cardinals – Andy & Alan Benes
- Andy Benes pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues after being the first overall selection (San Diego Padres) of the 1988 draft. The former University of Evansville standout pitched for the Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks in a career featuring 2,000 strikeouts in 2,505 innings, 155 wins and 10 seasons of double-digit victories. In St. Louis, he pitched five seasons (1996-1997, 2000-2002), helping the Cardinals reach the playoffs in 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2002. Benes was an 18-game winner in 1996 with a staff-best 230 innings as the Redbirds earned their first playoff berth since 1987. He also was a 12-game winner in 2000, when St. Louis won the National League Central and reached the NL Championship Series. His seven wins in 2001 pushed St. Louis to the NL Division Series, and his 106 innings in 2002 played a role in St. Louis reaching the NLCS again. In retirement, he has co-hosted the Cardinals’ Saturday morning children’s show, assisted the four-time state champion Westminster Christian Academy baseball team (2011-2014) and is owner of St. Louis Prospects, a youth organization
- Alan Benes was the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 1993 out of Creighton University and pitched 13 seasons in professional baseball, including eight seasons in the big leagues. A right-hander, he was in St. Louis from 1995 to 2001, working 431 innings and winning 27 games. The 1996 season was one of his most memorable, as Alan won 13 games to advance the Cardinals to the postseason for the first time since their 1987 World Series season. He later pitched for the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers and finished his career in the Cardinals organization. After retirement, Alan gave back to the game by working as a scout for the Cardinals.
Howard Quigley – Baseball Coach
Quigley coached high school baseball for 30 years, earning 458 wins. He began his coaching career at Billings, winning four district championships in five seasons, and a state championship in 1990. In his time there, he was 110-12. He later coached Aurora for five seasons, compiling a 118-41 record and a state quarterfinal appearance in 1994. The district title there that season was the program’s first. Quigley then spent 19 seasons coaching Republic High School, compiling 222 of his wins with the Tigers. His 2005 and 2006 Republic teams won district championships, and another was a Central Ozark Conference champion. Quigley, who also conducts pitching and hitting clinics in the Springfield area, is a native of Paducah, Ky., where he was an All-State baseball selection for St. Mary High School. He spent a season at Murray State and then played the next three seasons at Missouri State University (1983-1985), serving as a team captain his senior season.
Mansfield High School Baseball Program
The Mansfield High School Baseball Program has asserted itself as one of the state’s best over the past three decades. The Lions have advanced to nine Final Fours, played for the state championship eight times and have won three state championships in Class 2 (1995, 1996, 2017). Mansfield was a state runner-up in 1984, 1991, 1993, 2005 and 2018 and placed third in 1990, a team that was 30-0 entering the semifinals and sent seven players to colleges. The 2017 state championship was arguably its most emotional, as it came months after the passing of longtime coach Doug Jones, who was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in May 2016. The program has won 22 district championships and 26 Summit Conference titles. Between 1992 and 2000, the team set the state record with 51 consecutive league victories, and the 2004 through 2010 teams combined for 41 consecutive league wins.
DIAMOND 9 HONOREES
Heather Anderson – Missouri State University
A 2012 inductee of the Missouri State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Anderson played for the softball Bears from 1994 to 1998. She finished in the Bears’ career Top 10 in five categories, including home runs (18), doubles (38) and hits (178). As a freshman, she was a First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection and an All-Midwest Region pick as a power-hitting outfielder, when her play helped the Bears to the Valley title and a school-record 38 wins. In 1996, she helped the Bears to the Valley Tournament title and earned All-Valley and First Team All-Region. In her final season, she earned All-Valley and All-Valley Tournament honors. Anderson works for American Senior Benefits in Springfield and is an insurance adviser for Corwin Ford of Springfield.
Johnny Eierman – Warsaw High School/Tampa Bay Rays
Eierman is a graduate of Warsaw High School who is giving back to the game – and his alma mater – as the school’s baseball coach, now in his third season. In his amateur days, he was a three-time All-State selection in baseball and two-time All-State selection in football. He initially signed a letter of intent with the tradition-rich Louisiana State Tigers but joined the Tampa Bay Rays after being their third-round draft pick in 2011.
Kelli Wenberg Eierman – Warsaw High School/Park University
Kelli pitched Warsaw High School to a state championship in 2010, striking out 14 in the championship game. In fact, she struck out 27 of the 42 outs in the Final Four in a season in which she had 18 shutouts. Eierman earned First Team All-State and was named the conference Player of the Year. Additionally, she was a four-time All-Region, All-District and all-conference selection. Eierman struck out 20 in a 2009 game against Osage, and, in 2010, batted .595 and stole 42 bases. She then played four seasons at Park University, where she was the 2013 American Midwest Conference Freshman of the Year and a First Team All-AMC. Eierman still holds the record for earned run average at Park, with a 1.09 ERA set in 2014. That came a year after her 1.67 ERA rose to sixth on the single-season list. She is now an assistant softball coach at Warsaw.
Bill Fischer – Springfield Cardinals
Fischer worked as one of the key front office officials for the Springfield Cardinals from their inaugural 2005 season until the end of the 2016 season, in the role of Vice President of Facility Operations. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of Hammons Field. He also coordinated all capital projects, including design plans as well as ensuring that everything was done on time and according to specifications. The role included working closely with the Hammons Foundation to oversee the stadium. He previously had helped John Q. Hammons as a consultant prior to the stadium’s opening. Fischer, who had retired in 2003 after 22 years of working in the cable television industry, is a graduate of Hillcrest High School and Missouri State University, where he competed on a full track scholarship. He also helped launch the Lions All-Star Basketball Classic, supported local fastpitch and slow-pitch leagues and was a co-founder of the Ewing Baseball Classic.
Dallas Hord – Ozark High School/Missouri State University/Florida Marlins
Hord graduated from Ozark High School in 2006, having been a two-time All-State selection. In 2006 alone, he earned Class 5 All-State honors and Central Ozark Conference Player of the Year after batting .495 (50 hits in 24 games). That came two years after he helped the Tigers win the 2004 state championship. He then was a catcher for three seasons at Missouri State, throwing out 18 of 21 base runners. That included 11 in 2009, when he was a First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection and batted .347 with eight home runs and 37 RBI. Hord, who picked off 11 runners in his time at MSU, was a 32nd round draft pick of the Florida Marlins and spent three seasons in their farm system. These days, Hord is CEO and co-founder of Baby Goals, which provides parents with resources to aid in helping their babies reach developmental milestones.
Robert Murders – Southwest Baptist University
Murders earned NAIA District 16 Player of the Year in 1987 and was a two-time NAIA All-District selection. He was also an All-MIAA First Team selection in 1988. His career batting average of .380 ranked in the top five all-time at SBU. Had a career slugging percentage of .651 and an on-base percentage of .452. He was a longtime employee of SBU, supports Bearcats athletics and is in an inductee of the SBU Athletics Hall of Fame. All this came after Murders was a multi-sport athlete at Cleveland High School in Oklahoma, where he was Honorable Mention All-State, All-District and all-conference in baseball.
Justin Skinner – Hillcrest High School/Crowder College/Drury University
Skinner was an All-Ozarks Conference selection at Hillcrest before playing two seasons at Crowder. He made a huge mark at Drury, where in 2012 he was inducted into the Drury Athletics Hall of Fame. At the time, he ranked No. 1 in slugging percentage (.507), 10th in career batting average (.317), shared the single-season home run record (nine) and held the single-season record for total bases (118). Overall, he started in 105 of 106 games in his two seasons and earned Great Lakes Valley Conference honors. He and his wife own Prixel Creative, and Skinner works with The Closer’s Agency real estate company in Springfield.
Ryan Vincent – Hollister High School/University of Missouri/Southwest Baptist/Ozark Mountain Ducks
At Hollister High School in the early- to mid-1990s, Vincent was a three-year all-conference selection in basketball and even better in baseball. As a senior, he batted .585 with eight home runs and 47 RBI and, as a pitcher, was 9-5 with 179 strikeouts. He earned MVP honors of the 1995 Missouri All-Star Game and, after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, was a member of Mizzou’s 1996 Big 8 Conference championship team. He then was a First Team NJCAA All-American at North Arkansas Community College (.528, 15 HR, 75 RBI and 11-4, 1.66 ERA). At SBU, Vincent was a two-time First Team All-MIAA selection as a pitcher and hitter. His name is scattered throughout the SBU record books, with his 67 RBI in 2000 still tops for a single season there. He later played one season for the independent Ozark Mountain Ducks, won three Show-Me State games with Price Cutter & Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper and was inducted into the North Arkansas Hall of Fame in 2005.
Taylor White – East Prairie High School/Central Methodist University
White was a two-time All-State selection (2006, 2007) in Class 2 for East Prairie High School, which sits near the Bootheel of Missouri. In 2006, White set, and still holds, the Missouri State High School record with eight (8) RBI in a single inning. The following season he helped lead the Charleston Fighting Squirrels to their first Senior Babe Ruth State Championship along with a second-place finish in the Midwest Plains Regional. He went on to play at Central Methodist University, homering in his first collegiate at-bat and later serving as team captain in 2010. White’s career included recognition as a Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association Academic All-State and an NAIA Scholar Athlete. He currently practices law for Kutak Rock LLP in Springfield.
Alex Wise – Neosho High School/Northeastern Oklahoma A&M/University of Oklahoma
Wise was a three-time all-conference selection at Neosho High School, including first team his final two seasons. That was in addition to being a McDonald’s All-American nominee in basketball and All-State quarterback in football. In two seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, he was a two-time all-conference selection as an outfielder and helped the 2014 team to a region runner-up finish. Wise hit .391 as a freshman and .345 as a sophomore while also leading the conference in stolen bases both seasons. He then played two seasons for the Oklahoma Sooners, including starting all 58 games his senior season in 2016 when he hit .304, scored 39 runs, had 28 RBI and 16 doubles. He currently works for Prime, Inc., in Springfield.