Joplin, Mo. – The Missouri Southern Athletic Department will induct four individuals as part of its 2017 Hall of Fame Weekend on September 16 this fall.
The list includes a two-sport athlete, a baseball player, a track and field athlete and a former faculty athletic representative.
The newest class will be present at a social Friday evening and will be inducted at a lunch on Saturday. The group will be introduced as new Hall of Fame members at halftime of the Lions’ football game vs. Emporia State that Saturday. The lunch is open to the public. Registration and a social will take place from 11 am to 11:30 am on Saturday morning in the Academic Center inside the North Endzone Facility. The presentation and lunch will begin at 11:30 am and go to just before noon, with the induction speeches beginning at 11:50 am. Fans wishing to attend need to RSVP to the athletic department at 417-625-9317. Cost to attend the event is $15.
Wayne Harrell (meritorious), Joey Ballard (football and baseball 1999-2002), Jim Baranoski (baseball 1986-89) and Michelle Heimerman (women’s track and field 1996-97) all will join the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame as the 2017 Induction Class.
Below are short biographies on each of the newest inductees.
Wayne Harrell (meritorious) – Harrell was an instrumental part in Missouri Southern’s transition and move from the ranks of the NAIA to the NCAA Division II in the late 1980’s. Harrell served as a professor at Missouri Southern in the music department for 24 years from 1971 to his retirement in 1995.
He served as the Missouri Southern Faculty Athletic Representative from 1988 to 1995 and served as the President of the MIAA from 1993-95. He was chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee at MSSU and has been an active Lionbacker for many, many years.
Harrell resides in Joplin with his wife Patsy.
Joey Ballard (baseball and football – 1999-02) – Ballard holds the distinction of being the only person in MIAA history to be named a league Freshman of the Year in two sports as he earned that honor in 1998 for football and 1999 for baseball.
A three-time honorable mention All-MIAA selection in football, Ballard was a four-time All-MIAA pick in baseball, earning honorable mention All-MIAA three times and was a second-team All-MIAA pick his senior season.
Ballard ranks in the top ten in seven different career categories at Missouri Southern in baseball, as he is fourth in career runs (204) and walks (146), while ranking fifth in career stolen bases (62) and triples (12) and sixth in both at bats (692) and hits (226). He ranks ninth in career games (199). Ballard is also tied with many others for the MSSU single-game record with five hits.
On the football field, Ballard holds the record for most passes caught by a running back in a career with 72, and most receiving yards by a running back in a single-season with 377 in 1998 and in a career with 772. He holds the MSSU career record for punt returns with 75, and most career punt return yards with 699. He also holds the record for most career kickoff returns with 47. Ballard is tenth in single-season scoring in MSSU history with 72 points in 1998, while ranking ninth in career pass receptions with 99 and ranks ninth in career scoring with 158 points.
Ballard graduated from Missouri Southern in 2002 with a degree in criminal justice and resides in Joplin.
Jim Baranoski (baseball – 1986-89) Baranoski was a four-year letter winner for the Green and Gold in the late 1980’s. In his career, Baranoski was an honorable mention All-CSIC selection in 1987, while earning a spot on the District 16 All-Tournament team in 1987, as well. He was a first-team All-CSIC and All-District selection in both 1988 and 1989.
Baranoski’s name can be found all throughout the MSSU baseball records, but amongst the numerous listings, he is known as the most prolific power-hitter to ever wear the uniform. Baranoski’s 41 career home runs is tops at MSSU, while he is second with 181 career RBIs. He also ranks fifth in career walks with 135, and second in career sacrifice flies with 15, while ranking fourth in both career slugging (.662) and on-base percentage (.496).
Baranoski was a team captain in both 1988 and 1989 and helped the Lions to the NAIA World Series in 1987. He holds three of the top 11 single-season home run marks at MSSU as he is tied for second, as well as eighth and 11th. His 68 RBIs in both 1987 and 1989 rank as the fifth-most all-time in a single-season at MSSU. Baranoski finished his career with an average of .332 and started in 161 of the 176 games he played in.
Baranoski graduated from Missouri Southern in 1989 with a degree in communications. He has served as owner and partner in Display WorldWide since 2005 and resides in Plainfield, Illinois with his wife Tracy and their children Breck and Brooklyn.
Michelle Heimerman (women‘s track and field – 1996-97) – Heimerman was a two-year letter winner for the Lions from 1996-1997.
She was an All-American in the hammer throw for the Lions in both 1996 and 1997, and held the Missouri Southern school record in the event until 2000 at 171 feet. Heimerman transferred to Missouri Southern from Coffeyville Community College where she held that school’s record in the hammer until 2000 at 160 feet.
Heimerman was a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and was an MIAA Scholar-Athlete, graduating from Missouri Southern in 1998 with a degree in criminal justice. Heimerman currently serves as a victim advocate for the Barry County Prosecutors office in Cassville, Missouri.
The Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame was established to pay tribute and give deserved recognition while enhancing school tradition by honoring former athletic letter winners and/or coaches who have shown distinctive, unique or exceptional ability while at Missouri Southern or since graduation. The honorees must be graduates of Missouri Southern and there must have been a lapse of at least 10 years since the individual last participated in athletics at Southern.
With the addition of the 2017 class, the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame now includes 121 members and two teams.