It was a day full of memories for Rob Rains and the other inductees into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo. on Thurs. May 25, 2017. 

It started with arrival at the University Plaza Convention Center and signing posters which were passed out to the table sponsors and other corporate sponsors of the event.  After a buffet breakfast, there was a trip out to the Hall of Fame building located on E. Stan Musial Drive. The side of the building shown in the photo below with Rains and his wife, Sally, faces the street driving up to the facility.

Former baseball great Bill Virdon was honored with a larger-than-life statue. Virdon, along with his wife Shirley were greeted by many family, friends and fans at the outdoor celebration. 

Bill Virdon sees the statue for the first time

Designed by St. Louis’ Harry Weber, the Virdon statue was unveiled on the Hall of Fame’s Legends Walkway in a morning ceremony. Virdon, a West Plains High School graduate who has called Springfield home for years, was in the big leagues for four decades, either as a player, manager or coach. Among his many significant contributions was his center field defense for the Pirates, especially in their 1960 World Series upset of the New York Yankees.

  

Rains' plaque is in Communications wing                                  KMOX mural from Mike Shannon's Restaurant

There was time to check out the museum itself and a trip throughout the building showed a lot has been going on. Rains will have a plaque in the "Communications" wing and is enshrined with other colleagues such as Jack Buck,with whom he wrote a book; Mike Shannon, John Rooney, and Mike Kelly. All of these Hall of Famers were co-workers during time spent at KMOX when Rains was a regular on the "Sports Open Lines" and Cardinals post-game shows, and his wife Sally also worked for a time in the Sports Department.

Some highlights of the Communications area are the life-size statues of Jack Buck and Harry Caray in a press box setting. Fans can get a chance to sit between the iconic broadcasters and get their pictures taken.

Rains and his sons Mike and B.J. stand in the "Press Box" with "Jack Buck and Harry Caray"

Another special item on display is a large KMOX mural that was previously at Mike Shannon's Restaurant in downtown St. Louis.  The mural was painted by KMOX producer, the late Colin Jarrett and featured Buck and Shannon. It was kept in a part of the restaurant where Shannon would host the post-game "Live at Shannons" and is filled with autographs of those who were guests on the show. Rains remembered signing the mural years ago.

The museum is filled with exhibits for all sports in Missouri including the Cardinals, Blues, Royals, Chiefs, and Mizzou.

Rains and his wife with sons, B.J. and Mike in front of a Cardinals exhibit in the Hall of Fame

Missouri sports fans should definitely make the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame a destination on a future trip. There is a lot to see and more information on the Hall of Fame will be listed at the bottom of this article with information on the other inductees.

The Induction Ceremonies were very professionally done and the inductees could not have been treated better. Each one had a video presented before his award was presented. 

Jerald Andrews, the President and Executive Director of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (shown in picture at top of page with Rains) presented the awards and each recipient had three minutes to talk. Whitey Herzog and Ozzie Smith appeared in the video introducing Rains and Smith talked about him as a fair reporter who cared about the players, and Herzog said in all the years Rains covered the team he never saw him write a negative or mean thing about anyone.

Andrews asked for members of the Rains delegation to stand up while he was being inducted.

We took a video of Rob Rains' acceptance speech and a nice introductory video that the HOF produced about him. The video contains interviews with Whitey Herzog and Ozzie Smith. The quality of the video is what you get when videoing a video. I is not the actual first-generation video, but for those who were unable to attend and would like to view it, it is offered here:

Rob Rains' Introduction and Acceptance Speech:

Rains had several tables of friends and family in attendance. 

 

Family friends Tim and Paulette Johnson of Bloomington, IL as well as their daughter Lori, Johnson of St. Louis were at the Rains table.

 

Rains' Kickapoo H.S. friends  were there including Mark Harrell, Phil Trokey, and another classmate

Lifelong friends Maxine and Bill Hepper and John and Michele Carter of St. Louis were at the event.

There were almost 1,000 in attendance at the event

The Hall of Fame honored longtime Hiland Dairy Sales Manager Mark Speight with the President’s Award, and the Hall of Fame inducted five individuals: Mark Bailey (Glendale High School/Missouri State University/Houston Astros), the late John Donaldson (Glasgow High School/Negro Leagues), former Westran, Sturgeon and Jamestown softball/baseball coach Kelly Odneal, sports writer Rob Rains (Kickapoo High School/St. Louis media) and baseball coach Mark Stratton, who coached baseball at Glendale High School and Drury University.

The evening ended with a tribute to Bill Virdon.

Bill Virdon and Rob Rains after the dinner.


Note from Rob Rains and Family: We want to thank all of the people who know us and many who don't, who sent the well wishes and congratulatory notes, gifts, Tweets, Facebook messages and private messages. We are so appreciative of our family and our friends, and also the many Twitter followers and STLSportsPage.com readers who have reached out to us.

Special thank you to our sponsors who either bought a table or a congratulatory ad in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame souvenir program:

Drury Hotels

St. Louis- Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council

Crawford-Butz Insurance.

Another special thank you to our friends who sent Congrats in an ad in the program:

Dr. John Tosi

John Tosi is a great friend of ours. He is a dentist and before recently moving to St. Louis to be in full-time practice here, he was on the medical staff for the Memphis Redbirds. If you are looking for a good dentist with pain-free dentistry call John: : (636) 296-4800. He is located at 3855 W Outer Rd, Arnold, MO 63010

St. Louis Chapter of Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)

St. Louis Cardinals:


Information on the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame from the Mo. HOF website:

MoSportsHallOfFame.com

It’s the thrill of the game that has fans coming back for more. But it’s the love of the game that pushes athletes to get better. They get up before the sun rises to do football drills, they perfect their curveball pitch long after the sun goes down—and they never stop believing their dream can come true. It’s that dedication that has earned them a spot in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, and for some a spot on our Legends Walk of Fame.

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame welcomes you to celebrate the careers of these sports role models and relive the greatest moments in Missouri sports history. Find your favorite player, coach or team on our site, or come to the museum where we have 4,000 items of sports memorabilia and hands-on exhibits. You can feel the speed as you race in the NASCAR simulator, hit your own home run in the batters box against a Major League Baseball pitcher or throw the winning touchdown pass in our football exhibit. Are you ready to play, the ball is in your court!


ABOUT INDUCTION DAY AND THE OTHER INDUCTEES

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s big baseball celebration was Thursday, when they unveiled the larger-than-life statue of Bill Virdon at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo. . After that, it was the Baseball Luncheon  at tthe University Plaza Convention Center in downtown Springfield where 15 were honored including five new inductees to the Hall of Fame.

The 9 a.m. unveiling of the Virdon statue, sculpted by Harry Weber, took place at the Hall of Fame, 3861 E. Stan Musial Drive, which is about a mile east of the U.S. 60-65 interchange in southeast Springfield.  

It was  followed by the 11 a.m. Baseball Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, held at the University Plaza Convention Center in downtown Springfield. 

Former Hiland Dairy Sales Manager Mark Speight was honored with the President’s Award, and the Hall of Fame inducted five individuals: Mark Bailey (Glendale High School/Missouri State University/Houston Astros), the late John Donaldson (Glasgow High School/Negro Leagues), former Westran, Sturgeon and Jamestown softball/baseball coach Kelly Odneal, sports writer Rob Rains (Kickapoo High School/St. Louis media) and baseball coach Mark Stratton, who coached baseball at Glendale High School and Drury University.

The Diamond 9 award recipients will be Doug Bennett (Hillcrest High School/University of Arkansas/Los Angeles Dodgers), Dan Bishop (Springfield Central High School/Baltimore Orioles/New York Yankees), Jack Funderburk (Southwest Baptist University), Chelsea King Goodin (Strafford High School/Drury University), Kellie Becher Kessler (Missouri State University), Danny Powers (Carl Junction High School/University of Central Missouri/Minnesota Twins), Kyle Rapinchuk (Branson High School/College of the Ozarks), Stefanie Standley (Lamar High School/University of Missouri) and Michael Vincent (Hollister High School/John Brown University/Phillips University/Cincinnati Reds).

About the Bill Virdon statue: Virdon, who grew up in West Plains and has called Springfield home for decades, played 12 seasons in the big leagues and managed big-league clubs for 13 years. The Hall of Fame’s latest larger-than-life statue captures his catch in the opening game of the 1960 World Series, when the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder robbed the great Yogi Berra of a two-run double in cavernous Forbes Field. Virdon’s defense that series choked off key rallies and bridged the Pirates to their shocking upset of the New York Yankees, won on Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning home run in the deciding Game 7. The statue will be on display on the Legends Walkway, joining four other larger-than-life statues -- former Missouri State University Lady Bears great Jackie Stiles, golf’s Payne Stewart, another depicting “The Boy and The Man” of St. Louis Cardinals icon Stan Musial signing an autograph for a young fan, and University of Missouri men’s basketball coach Norm Stewart.

Informational Links about this year's Baseball Luncheon and Inductees in to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame:

The story of Bill Virdon’s catch in the ’60 World Series: https://tinyurl.com/kn848ez

Those Being Inducted in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Thurs. May 25, 2017

Inductee: Rob Rains, Kickapoo HS grad & big-league baseball writer
https://tinyurl.com/lut4ppp

Inductee: Mark Bailey, Glendale HS, Missouri State & Houston Astros

https://tinyurl.com/kfclyl5

Inductee: The late John Donaldson, Glasgow native & Negro Leagues
https://tinyurl.com/lst2bqa

Inductee: Westran’s Kelly Odneal, the winning HS softball coach in Missouri history
https://tinyurl.com/l4bxjv9

Inductee: Mark Stratton, former Glendale HS & Drury University coach
https://tinyurl.com/kloahpa

President’s Award: Hiland Dairy’s Mark Speight
https://tinyurl.com/kqhnn3f

The event is presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company


For Our Springfield, Mo. Readers: Fun Event at Hall of Fame

Beach Party Bingo & Auction is June 4; Springfield Celebrity Golf Classic is June 5
Try to win $1,000 in bingo, sport your favorite seersuckers, summer dresses and enjoy savory bites, plus complimentary drinks and live music – all at the Beach Party Bingo & Auction presented by Med-Pay, Inc.

It’s free admission to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s fundraiser, set to begin at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 4 at the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center in Springfield. RSVP by June 2 by calling 417-889-3100.

 We’ll also have mobile bidding for the silent auction at bidpal.net, and be sure to play in our Springfield Celebrity Golf Classic presented by Great Southern Bank at Highland Springs Country Club. We have spots open for our 8 a.m. Sunday round as well as our Monday rounds at 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Golf teams receive continental breakfast, lunch, a great golfer gift package, on-course beverages and snacks, team photos and corporate signage. Trophies awarded to winners. Purchase of a golf team includes eight tickets to the Sunday Beach Party.