Ceremony to honor Baker Hall of Famers
The Baker sports scene will introduce a new-look mascot and re-introduce black football jerseys and pants from the Wildcats' heyday.
During halftime of the Baker's home opener against Culver-Stockton on Sept. 8, a new Wildcat mascot and its name will be unveiled.
"I'm excited about it," said Theresa Yetmar, assistant athletic director. "The mascot will be more sporty and more friendly to the person who wears it. We will be able to use it for all sports seasons by having it wear a football jersey, basketball jersey and a shirt with the Baker logo."
Jan Schroeder, a longtime supporter of the university, donated money for the new mascot costume.
"I am a big sports fan and heard they needed a new mascot uniform," Schroeder said. "I saw the final design for the new mascot and I liked it and I believe all Wildcat fans will enjoy it."
Students and alumni are able to participate in a contest to name the Wildcat. To submit a name for the new Wildcat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use the subject line Wildcat Naming Contest. The winner will receive $150. The deadline to submit names is Aug. 31.
Longtime Wildcat fans will recognize the black worn by the football team for select games this fall. Baker played in black in the 1980s and early '90s when Charlie Richard coached the Wildcats to prominence.
"We have received positive feedback from the alumni on the return of the black uniforms that have traditionally been worn at home," Yetmar said. "We had a lot of support from alumni who helped us finance the uniforms."
Gene Chubb, a 1951 Baker graduate and former Wildcat football player, is encouraging all former athletes to wear or bring black Baker memorabilia to the homecoming game.
During homecoming weekend, six alumni -- Scott Bates (Class of 1975), Gary Bates ('77), Jeff Johnson ('78), Chris Orel ('82), John Smith ('91) and Nate Houser ('94) -- will be honored on Oct. 5 at Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the 150th Baker Athletics Celebration at the Arrowhead Club at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
"We're hoping to generate a lot of interest with the Hall of Fame celebration," Yetmar said. "We've expanded it and taken it off site the night before homecoming. We'll have a small celebration for our Hall of Fame inductees early Saturday and a tailgate before the Saturday game against William Jewell."
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a 1987 Baker graduate, will be inducted into Baker's Hall of Fame with a special ceremony on Oct. 20. A former tight end for the Wildcats, McCarthy plans to serve as honorary captain for Baker during their game against Central Methodist.
An exhibit including images from Baker's past athletic endeavors will be on display throughout the year.
"Athletics play an important role for a lot of students with 50 percent of them participating in sports," Yetmar said. "We want to make sure to recognize the history and tradition of Baker sports by honoring legendary coaches like Emil S. Liston, Charlie Richard and Jim Irick."
Here's a look at the Hall of Fame class for 2007:
Scott Bates, '75
Bates shined in baseball and football, receiving a combined a six letters in the two sports. As a first baseman and center fielder, he was a three-time all-conference performer in baseball. He played center and linebacker for the Wildcat football team. He was president and owner of BOW Truckline in 1978 to 1983 and has worked as a stagehand since 1983. Bates currently lives in Mill Valley, Calif.
Gary Bates, '77
Excelling in baseball and basketball at Baker, Bates, Scott's brother, was a four-year letter winner and three-time all-conference performer in basketball and a two-year letter winner in baseball. He led the Wildcats four consecutive years in assists and finished his career ninth on the all-time scoring list. Bates was named team MVP as a sophomore. After graduating from Baker, Bates was an assistant basketball coach for the Wildcats and taught and coached in the Belton and Turner school districts before coaching at UMKC. He currently is an account executive for George Fern Co.
Jeff Johnson, '78
A member of four consecutive conference championship teams, the standout golfer was a two-time individual runner-up at the HAAC tournament. Johnson participated in the NAIA national golf tournament his junior and senior years. For more than 25 years, he has been the head golf professional and general manager at Sunflower Hills Golf Course in Bonner Springs. He was recently elected to the PGA Quarter Century Club as a member of PGA of America.
Chris Orel, '82
A four-year letter winner in softball and basketball, Orel played on three Kansas AIAW softball state championship teams and the 1982 HAAC team champions. She was an all-tournament selection at shortstop in the 1982 AIAW national softball tournament. In basketball, she was an all-HAAC first-team selection and led the team with a 16.7 points scoring average, was named AIAW most valuable player, and named to AIAW all-tournament team. Regarded as one of the top coaches in the Kansas City area, Orel is entering her 25th year teaching and coaching. She currently coaches softball at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where she has compiled a 74-35 record in six seasons. Her 2006 softball squad finished 23-2 and placed second at the state tournament. As an assistant coach for Aquinas' successful basketball program, Orel was part of two state championship teams (2001 and 2004). She coached girls basketball for 11 seasons at Piper High School in Kansas City, Kan.
John Smith, '91
One of two Baker basketball players to have his number retired, Smith finished his career with 2,460 points, which ranks second all time, and three times earned the team's most valuable player honor. He holds the Wildcats' records for points in a game (46), scoring average (20.5 points per game) and career rebounds (923). Smith was a three-time all-HAAC selection and played professionally for three seasons in Austria. He is owner of Riverhook Retail Group in Kansas City, Mo.
Nate Houser, '94
One of Baker's all-time greats, Houser earned first-team NAIA all-America honors his junior and season seasons in men's soccer. He was a three-time all-HAAC selection and the conference's player of the year three times. He set school records for goals (31) and points (72) in a season in 1992 and ranks second all time at Baker with 169 points. He played professional soccer for 10 years, including stints with the Kansas City Comets, St. Louis Steamers and the Baltimore Blast in the Major Indoor Soccer League. He was selected to the MISL all-star team in 1999 and 2000 and twice received the KC Comets Player Award. Houser has served as Baker's head women's soccer coach since 2003 and remains active coaching youth soccer.