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Baseball legend, native Johnny Reagan dies at 92

One of the greatest names in college athletics history, Johnny Reagan, died Friday in Murray, Kentucky, at the age of 92.

Born in Bismarck, Reagan was a graduate of the Bismarck Class of 1944. During his high school years he was a member of the 1944 Bismarck team that won the state basketball championship. He was named “Missouri State Basketball Captain.”

“Red” Reagan was a standout athlete at Bismarck High School, earning the moniker “Mr. Basketball” for his expertise on the court.

He enrolled at Murray State during World War II and quickly earned a place on the basketball and baseball teams. In his first year on the varsity team in 1944–45, Reagan led the basketball team in every statistical category, the only player in the school’s history to do so. He also led Murray State in scoring in three of his four seasons and finished his career in 1948 with 973 points, a school record at the time.

He is one of nine players to have his Murray State basketball jersey number retired, as his No. 20 hangs in the rafters of the school’s CFSB Center.

In addition to Murray State, Reagan also attended the University of Kentucky and the University of Mississippi. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Business, Journalism and Physical Education. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology.

Following college, Reagan married Carolyn Carter, a Murray native. He began his teaching career at Bismarck High School where he remained on the faculty for seven years. During his time at Bismarck, he played summer minor league professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.

He later began his college coaching career at Northeast Louisiana State College — now the University of Louisiana at Monroe — where he coached basketball for two seasons before returning to Murray State in 1957 to take over as head baseball coach. He was later Murray State’s athletics director from 1978 to 1987 and also served as chairman of the NCAA Baseball Committee.

Reagan retired from coaching after the 1993 season.

He was a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, Murray State, American Baseball Coaches Association, Missouri Athletic and Bismarck School halls of fame.

The baseball fields at Murray State University and Bismarck School were named in Reagan’s honor. He was especially gratified by the naming of the Bismarck field, saying “It is an honor given by my hometown.”

During Reagan’s tenure as baseball coach, he developed several professional players including major league standouts Pat Jarvis, Jack Perconte and Kirk Rueter.

Former baseball Head Coach Johnny Reagan looks out on the Murray State University baseball field that was named in his honor. The ball field at Bismarck Schools also bears his name.

Former baseball Head Coach Johnny Reagan looks out on the Murray State University baseball field that was named in his honor. The ball field at Bismarck Schools also bears his name.

The 1944 Bismarck State Champion Basketball team was the first Lead Belt team to win the state tournament. Team members from left are Johnny Reagan, Bob Cartee, Roy Pillard, Buckly Clopper and Paul Williams. The photo appears in the book titled,

The 1944 Bismarck State Champion Basketball team was the first Lead Belt team to win the state tournament. Team members from left are Johnny Reagan, Bob Cartee, Roy Pillard, Buckly Clopper and Paul Williams. The photo appears in the book titled, “St. Francois County: Looking Back, Vol. 3” by Dave Darnell.

Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or kjenkins@farmingtonpressonline.com

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