Richard (Dick) Anthony Birmingham
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Richard (Dick) Anthony Birmingham was born on June 20th 1933, and left this earth to join the Lord on March 4th 2014.
Dick was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas to John Francis and Mary Marwil Birmingham. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Margaret Garlette, Francis Searcy, William Birmingham, John Birmingham, Donald Birmingham, and Dorothy Emrich.
He is survived by his loving wife Rosemary, their four children, Jill Sparks and husband David, Bart Birmingham and wife Shelly, John Birmingham and wife Cathie, and Brian Birmingham and wife Angie; his grandchildren, Ashley Sparks and husband Kris McDonald, Grant Sparks, Gabby, Katelyn, and Courtney Birmingham, Aidan Birmingham, Isabel Bearden, Sophia and Joe Birmingham; his great-grandchild, Jada McDonald; and his siblings, Verna Hill, Raymond Birmingham and Charlie Birmingham; and brother-in-law, Fred LaFever.
After graduating high school, Dick Birmingham left his hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas to join the Army. Birmingham always credits the Army for teaching him the skills of leadership. After his stint in the Army, he moved to Springfield, MO to attend Southern Missouri State on a football scholarship. It was at SMS, that he met Rosemary, who would become his wife of more than 56 years. Just before graduation, Birmingham took a summer job, coaching Parkview's American Legion Baseball team in 1957....that's when it happened. New to coaching and new to baseball, Dick tasted defeat and did not like it. From this point, he dedicated his life to learning everything he could about baseball and how to prepare a team for victory. The "Coach" we all know and love was born. Two years later, Coach Birmingham led Parkview to a state legion championship. This was the first of many notable baseball victories. In 1960, Birmingham moved to Hillcrest High School to help build a legendary winning baseball program. Coach B's success at Hillcrest did not exist entirely on the ball field, he was also a dedicated and beloved teacher of American History, World History, Geography, and Economics. In addition to his legendary career at Hillcrest, Coach Birmingham also contributed greatly to Mickey Owens and Show-Me Baseball Schools. He was also honored to coach the United States Pan American Team and U. S. Pan American Junior National Teams. After retiring from Hillcrest, Birmingham started Dick Birmingham Sports, inc. bringing baseball camps to thousands of kids locally and nationwide. Coach B held his last camp at the age of 80 in the summer of 2013.
Here is a list of Birmingham's most notable accomplishments:
Hillcrest Highlights: 309 wins-138 losses, 1979 State Championship, State Titles in 1970 and 1971, runner-up finishes in 1972 and 1973, Five Final Four Appearances, Twelve District Championships, Fifteen Conference Championships. During the five year period from 1962-1966 his teams lost only 15 games. During the five year period from 1970-1974 his teams lost only 14 games. From 1971-1976 his teams won 64 conference games while only losing 7. He had 6 players drafted in 1966 and 4 drafted in 1972, over 130 players sign a pro contract, or receive a college scholarship, four played major league baseball and two played triple A baseball. In 1979 he was named ABCA National High School Coach of the Year, 1990 was inducted into the Missouri High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the ABCA Hall of Fame, 1991 he was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, 1995 was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame, 2002 inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 2008 inducted into the Hillcrest High School Baseball Hall of Fame, 2010 inducted into the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and in 2014 Hillcrest Baseball Program was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Above all, Dick was a Christian man who loved his family dearly. His jokes were endless and he loved making people laugh. He often said what a privilege it was to coach and that his coaching days were the best of his life. Coach B greatly cared about each player he coached and each child he had in his camps. He will be greatly missed.
The visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, 2014 in Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. The funeral service will be 10:00 a.m. Saturday, March 8th, 2014 at Immaculate Conception Church with burial to follow in Resurrection Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Hillcrest High School Baseball in c/o Brenda Stone, 3319 N. Grant Ave., Springfield, MO, 65803; MSU Foundation for Baseball, 300 S. Jefferson, Springfield, MO 65806, mostatefoundation.org; or Humane Society of Southwest Missouri, 3161 W. Norton Rd., Springfield, MO 65803. Online condolences may be left at www.gormanscharpf.com.
Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home
1947 E. Seminole
Springfield, MO 65804
Published in the News-Leader on Mar. 6, 2014