The Texas League has announced its 2016 Hall of Fame class, which will feature 11 inductees instead of the initially proposed 10. The circuit’s board of directors made this decision to enshrine league president Tom Kayser, who is set to retire next February, making this his last season at the helm. At 25 seasons, he will step down as the league’s longest-serving president.
Joining Kayser are a cross section of era’s and accomplishments on and off the field: Keith Bodie, manager; Mark Brouhard, player; Dave Elmore, owner; Bob Hards, broadcaster; Ash Hillen, pitcher; Monty Hoppel, executive; Miles Prentice; owner; Bob Richmond, owner; Ken Schrom, executive and Burl Yarbrough, executive.
A scrappy, competitive outfielder for the Jackson Mets in the late 1970’s, Keith Bodie returned to the Texas League as a manager at both Wichita and Corpus Christi and developed into one of the most successful field generals in league history.
Another in a long line of El Paso sluggers, Brouhard tore through the Texas League in 1979, hitting .350, while leading the league in hits, home runs, total bases and RBI and winning the league’s Player of the Year award.
Dave Elmore is in his 30th season as the owner of the San Antonio franchise, one of the longest terms in league history. He has been a stable, valuable and respected voice in league affairs, while helping ensure that the San Antonio franchise grew and prospered during his long ownership.
In 2016, Bob Hards joined a select and exclusive group of broadcasters that have called league games for at least 25 seasons. Hired by the Midland club in November 1991, the Washington state native, known for his passionate, insightful and witty broadcasts, has become a revered fixture in the Permian basin, as well as with all of his colleagues around the loop. Hards is just the fifth league broadcaster honored with election to the TL hall, joining Roy Acuff (San Antonio), Jerry Doggett (Fort Worth), Jim Elder (Arkansas) and Bill Walberg (Jackson).
Ash Hillen, who appeared in 11 TL seasons over a 15-year period, had three brilliant years in the league, 1934 when he was 24-12 and won the league’s Pitcher of the Year award and 1937-38, when he crafted a 54-20 mark. His landmark 1937 season with Oklahoma City, when he was 31-10, starting 27 games and relieving in 35 others, earned him the league’s Player of the Year Award. He is the only person in league history to have won both of the league’s major post-season awards and is also the last pitcher in league history to have won 30 or more games in a single season.
Monty Hoppel was already with the Midland club when it was purchased by Miles Prentice and Bob Richmond in 1989. The new owners had the foresight and good fortune to stick with the Montana native, who over the next 28 seasons has helped Midland become one of the model franchises in all of the minor leagues. During his tenure, Hopple has been elected the TL Executive of the Year five times, while the Midland club has been selected the Texas League Organization of the Year four times.
Co-owners of the Midland club since 1989, Miles Prentice and Bob Richmond have been the model partnership for baseball and for the greater Midland, Texas community. Intensely loyal to their adopted market, the pair allowed General Manager Monty Hoppel to form a staff that has become a model for others to emulate, while becoming a vital part of the Permian Basin landscape. During their ownership of the club, their club has received numerous league and national awards, while the club, through various outreach programs and their Winter Sports Banquet, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities.
During his 36-year association, first as a pitcher and later as a club executive, Ken Schrom participated in the successes of two different clubs, first with the El Paso Diablos, for whom he began working in 1981, while still an active player, and since 2005, with the Corpus Christi Hooks. While with El Paso, Schrom was part of a ground breaking organization that was in the forefront innovative promotions that helped bring Minor League Baseball into a more prosperous era. Since 2005, Schrom has had a direct hand in helping develop the Hooks into one of the most respected franchises in all of the Minor Leagues.
In his 29th season in the Alamo City, Burl Yarbrough has been, first as general manager and since 2004 as team president, the person guiding the successes of the San Antonio franchise during the ownership of Dave Elmore. Upon his arrival in the Alamo City, the Fort Worth native helped revive and stabilize the San Antonio club, increasing attendance nearly 66% from 1988 through 1993. In a new facility in 1994, Yarbrough and his staff set an all-time Texas League attendance record, drawing over 411,000 fans, just the third TL club, up to that time, to draw as many as 400,000 fans in a single season and the first club to do so since 1949. During his distinguished career in San Antonio, Yarbrough and the Missions have received numerous League and national awards, including the Baseball America Bob Freitas Award.