Pitney Enters Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
Monday, December 10, 2012
by Jordan Argo
KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame welcomed former Coach and Athletic Director Ben Pitney into its halls after spending 35 years coaching basketball and four yeas serving as Hannibal-LaGrange University's Athletic Director.
"Since my induction, and even before my induction, I felt like there were a lot of people that had probably done the same things I had done," commented Pitney. "The first thought I had was why me. It was very overwhelming and humbling. It was a great honor and I'm very appreciative of the whole thing."
Pitney spent most of his coaching career at Truman State University, then known as Northeast Missouri State, under the helm of Coach Willard Sims. He went on to spend 23 years as Coach Sims' first assistant before retiring from coaching in 1994.
The Hannibal native then came home and was quickly named the Athletic Director at Hannibal-LaGrange where he helped usher in the men's and women's soccer programs. Pitney was also instrumental in the development of several athletic fields on the campus of Hannibal-LaGrange. He oversaw the establishment of the, now, Pitney Soccer Practice Field, the Blackwell Soccer Field, the Nichols Baseball Field and the HLGU Softball Field.
Pitney also had a short coaching stint with the Trojans and attended Hannibal-LaGrange, when it was a junior college, in the early 1950's.
After coaching in the high school ranks for seven years, he spent 1966-71 at HLG and left with a 79-56 record to become Coach Sims' assistant.
While attending Hannibal-LaGrange, he played basketball with junior college hall-of-famers Ray Schumann and Cotton Fitzsimmons. The Trojans finished third in the nation during both of his seasons with the team, but Pitney fondly looks back at his junior college years as the place where he found Christ.
"I was concerned about the afterlife and wondered what was there," stated Pitney. "I remember a guy named Andy Blaine was speaking and he gave a very simple explanation of the gospel. It was very understandable to me. Once I accepted the Lord, I had a feeling of security. That was the first thing that came to my mind; I was secure from that point."
Pitney transferred to Northeast Missouri State after his two years at Hannibal-LaGrange and, after marrying his wife Martha in 1955, served two years in the United States Army.
Pitney was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame along with seven other individuals and one team Wednesday night on the campus of Truman State.
Hannibal-LaGrange University is a Division I NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) institution and a member of the American Midwest Conference.
Contact InformationCarolyn Carpenter
Director of Public Relations