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2024 St. Joseph Area Sports Hall of Fame Announced

May 30—On Thursday, the St. Joseph Sports Commission announced the 2024 St. Joseph Sports Hall of Fame Class, with this year's induction ceremony being in memory and honor of Frank O'Malley.

This will be the fourth class to be enshrined, with 11 nominations being added to the newly founded sports hall of fame. The 2024 class is an exciting one, as three folks will represent a sport or trade not that is not yet in the hall of fame.

"This class has great depth, a lot of depth, especially given we have a first figure skater in the class, and we have our first track and field student athlete," sports commission executive director Brett Esely said. "You know, this class hits a lot of different areas of sport, as it should on an annual basis."

Bobby Blakley was a graduate of Central High School, having played college baseball at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) and three seasons with the San Diego Padres. He is being inducted for his baseball and men's fastpitch softball career.

Ryan Bradley was born in St. Joseph, and started skating at the age of two. He is being inducted for his figure skating career, where he competed in the United States Championships and won in 2011.

A unique nomination as it involves two people, but Dirck Clark and Charlie Shields are being inducted as they were the pioneers of bringing the Kansas City chiefs to Missouri Western for training camp. They also helped get the indoor sports complex out at Missouri Western.

Heavin (Warner) Douglas is a 2011 graduate of Benton High School and is being inducted for her track and field career, winning three straight national championships in hammer throw. Warner still holds the top-seven hammer throw marks in NCAA Division II history. In 2016, she placed fifth at the US Olympic Trials in the hammer throw and was sixth at the United States Championships in 2017.

Brice Garnett is the most decorated golfer at Missouri Western, as he's a three-time Division II All-American and still competing on the PGA Tour. He's played in two of golf's major championships including twice in the US Open and twice in the PGA Championship.

The late Dan Gerson was the St. Joseph Mustangs owner and founder, helping create the must-see summer event in St. Joseph. His project lives on as it ranks top 10 in attendance of all summer collegiate wood bat teams across the U.S.

"A lot of factors why St Joseph's sports is the way it is, and it doesn't just happen on the field, it happens off the field," Esely said. "It happens maybe in a negotiation setting to make something happen in St. Joe and it also definitely encompasses the folks that promote sports, write about sports, talk about sports."

Dr. Pat Lapira is a softball coaching legend, as she's the winningest coach in Missouri Southern history across all sports, leading the Lions for 18 years. She compiled a 632-275 overall record which included four MIAA Championships, six NCAA Tournament appearances, two NCAA Regional Championships and led the Lions to the 1992 NCAA National Championship.

Doug Minnis is a baseball coaching legend, having founded the Missouri Western Baseball program, where he coached for 30 seasons. Minnis compiled 683 wins, won six NAIA District 16 Championships and qualified for the 1975 NAIA World Series

Bill scott is another unique induction, as he's the first member of the media inducted. As part of the Missouri Sports Writers Association, he spent 40 years helping cover athletics in St. Joseph.

The 2006-07 Benton Girls Basketball team that went 30-0 and beat Farmington 52-37 to win the Class 4 state title. In addition to being the then first ever state championship team in Benton Girls Basketball history, they also became the first and then only (2016 Benton Girls State Championship team did the same) area high school team (boys or girls) to go undefeated in a season.

The last inductee was Charlie Phillips, who competed in the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Germany. Phillips was a top-three finisher in four separate powerlifting events which included: Men's Squat — Silver Medal, Men's Bench Press — Silver Medal, Men's Deadlift — Bronze Medal and Men's All-Around — Silver Medal.

Calvin Silvers can be reached at calvin.silvers@newspressnow.com.