The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 24, 2014

Warren Turner entering Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Most of Warren Turner’s early years in coaching were involved in football and basketball.

“Russ Kaminsky, Dewey Combs and Jim Frazier  were my mentors,” Turner said. “They took a chance on me, gave me a chance. Who was I? I had a great opportunity to learn under three coaching greats.

“They took me in, welcomed me, worked with me as a coach. They gave responsibilities to me and didn’t check on me every minute. I was Russ’ assistant (in basketball at Parkwood) his last few years and did some scouting. For Dewey (Parkwood football coach) I coached wide receivers, then the offensive line and was junior varsity coach. Jim hired me at the college to coach the offensive line.”

Turner coached baseball at Joplin Memorial High School for three years before being transferred to Parkwood. Turner later succeeded Ed Wuch as baseball coach at Missouri Southern, and he went on to win 852 games with the Lions.

On Sunday, Turner will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield. The induction banquet and ceremony is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield.

Earlier on Sunday a reception will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sports Hall of Fame, located at the entrance to Highland Springs Country Club.

This year’s 15-member class also includes Willie McGee from the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike McFarlane from the Kansas City Royals, Ed Podolak from the Kansas City Chiefs, track Olympian Jason Pyrah from Willard and former Missouri Western basketball coach Tom Smith.

Turner compiled an 852-720-3 record as the Lions’ baseball coach from 1977 through 2007. He directed five teams to the NAIA or NCAA Division II World Series, highlighted by second-place finishes in 1978 (NAIA) and 1991 (NCAA D-II).

“A lot of people were there to help me,” Turner said. “Assistant coaches ... Mike Hagedorn was fantastic. ‘Lube’ (Steve Luebber) helped when he was home, and his dad Kermit.

“When I got on the park board, we got it approved that Joe Becker Stadium would be for baseball only. Rebuilding Joe Becker ... we put in a sprinkler system, sod. Don Greenlee at Schifferdecker (Golf Course) taught me about grasses, fertilizer and stuff.

“Wendell (Redden, former Globe sports editor) was great for advice and promoting the program with his articles. He never said a bad word.

“And the Mutt Burger ... we probably cooked 75,000 to 100,000 Mutt Burgers, and my wife (Gloria) probably cooked half of them.”

Turner also was involved with USA Baseball, running the Junior program for eight years before helping with the Senior team, which held tryouts and played exhibition games at Joe Becker Stadium for many years.

A player on one of Turner’s Junior teams went on to make baseball headlines for multiple reasons.

“Alex Rodriguez was a shortstop, a tall, skinny drink of water who hit singles and doubles,” Turner said. “Now look at him ... he’s a lot bigger.”

Turner said the seven years since he retired from Missouri Southern have gone by quickly.

“I’ve been involved, haven’t stopped,” he said. “My ESPN job (charting Major League Baseball games for the network), mechanics interpreter for football on this side of the state, a trainer with the basketball officials ... I’ve kept busy. And going to Branson and Kansas City when I can, it’s gone by fast.”

Turner is a registered official with the MSHSAA for football, basketball and baseball.

“You notice I’m not going into the hall of fame for refereeing,” he said with a laugh. “I must not be any good at it.”

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