He came to Lipscomb as the best high school baseball player in Nashville, and for two seasons established himself as a prolific two-sport Bison. Butch Stinson eventually dropped basketball, became a two-time first-team NAIA All-American, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, and a successful businessman. He was inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988, and he took a few minutes this week for a brief visit with LipscombSports.com ...
What years did you participate at Lipscomb?
I played basketball my first two years for Ken Dugan (1970) and Mike Clark (1971), and I played baseball all four years (1970-73) for Coach Dugan.
What teammates were most memorable?
I had some excellent teammates in both basketball and baseball. The ones who have become lifelong friends are Ted Jamison and Bo McLaughlin (baseball) and Bruce Bowers (basketball). In an entirely different class, I appreciate my catchers – Mike Dennis and Steve Burton – because a good catcher goes a long way toward making a pitcher better. I also have great memories of Jim Minnick (see story below), whose dad coached me in little league baseball from ages 9 though 12.
What degrees did you earn?
I graduated from Lipscomb with a B.S. in Mathematics in June 1973, and I earned a Masters degree in Biostatistics from Vanderbilt in 1976.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
For a guy like me who grew up in the church of Christ in Nashville, Lipscomb was a perfect answer, especially with their solid baseball program. But due to the influence of my big brother, Terry, I actually signed with Vanderbilt. You need to understand that Terry was a year older than me, and whatever he did, I wanted to do: he played three sports in high school, I played three sports; he played the cello, I played the cello; he sang in the chorus, I sang in the chorus; he was valedictorian of his senior class, and I was valedictorian of my senior class. Terry went to Vanderbilt on an engineering scholarship and was playing both baseball and football his freshman year, and he spoke highly of it and encouraged me to go there too.
I realized during the summer, though, that I really wanted to be at Lipscomb, so I transferred before classes began in the fall. The only challenge was financial: by that time Coach Dugan had given away the scholarship he offered me earlier, but he came up with a solution – if I played both basketball and baseball he could award scholarships from both programs. That’s the reason I played both sports my first two years. By my junior year I wanted to concentrate on baseball, so Coach Dugan went to an incredibly generous donor – Lee Marsh – to make up for my lost basketball scholarship money. As long as I live I’ll be grateful to Mr. Marsh for that expression of kindness. It’s an example of the spirit that confirmed my decision: Lipscomb was the best place for me.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
Oh my, there are a lot, but my favorites are our trips to the NAIA National Baseball Championships in Phoenix, Arizona in 1971 and 1972. We finished as runner-up both years, but the ’71 “Miracle Bisons” year was just wild. We came from behind, I think, three straight games to get to the NAIA finals. The championship game was as close as a final game can get. Ted Jamison hit a ball in the power alley that would have won the game and the trophy for us, but their centerfielder made a spectacular diving catch and they ended up winning in extra innings.
I remember pitching one day with Jim Minnick playing first base. I made a left-handed pickoff move to first base and picked off the runner, but somehow I picked off Jim too. The ball hit him squarely in the mid-section, he dropped like a rock, and the runner laughed all the way to second base … and on to third base. Jim won’t let me forget that day.
I also recall facing University of Kentucky in a doubleheader one day at Dugan Field. Bo McLaughlin was a freshman the year I was a senior – he threw one game and I threw the other, and we beat them 1-0 and 2-1. We were a pretty good one-two punch, and I’m pretty sure that was the last time Kentucky came to play here.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
I have the utmost respect for three men who, I firmly believe, changed the course of my life. Coach Ken Dugan was a great coach and a skilled baseball teacher. Many of the drills we practiced every day were ahead of their time because he was such a student of the game. Rarely does a person have a privilege like that, anytime in life, to learn things about a game you love and thought you already knew a lot about.
Coach Roy Pardue was a former professional player who was able to provide first-hand instruction to our pitchers and catchers. He was a wealth of knowledge in pitching strategy and mechanics, and I give him full credit for the success of our pitching staffs in those days. And Lee Marsh was the greatest supporter any program could ask for. He taught me as much about commitment, involvement, and generosity as our coaches taught about baseball. Those were golden days at Lipscomb, and I am grateful for them.
What’s your favorite non-athletic memory from your time here?
Well, I met my wife and several lifelong friends on the Lipscomb campus, so in my mind that earns first place by a long shot.
After that, the first campus memory that comes to mind involves dorm life. For three years I roomed with Farrell Gean, and in our freshman year we lived with other athletes on the first floor of High Rise Dorm. For those unfamiliar with it, rooms on the first floor of High Rise had sliding glass windows on ground level facing the south parking lot. With many students learning about curfew for the first time in their lives, let’s just say our room (and window) became a popular after-hours “entrance” for students – athletes and non-athletes alike. Interestingly, by my sophomore year the student-athletes had been “promoted” to the seventh floor.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at Lipscomb?
Far and away, the best thing I gained from my time at Lipscomb was the value of a strong faith. We enjoyed some incredibly Godly men as Bible teachers: Batsell Barrett Baxter, Williard Collins, and Athens Clay Pullias. Chapel was also a highlight. For a guy like me, it just enhanced what I believed, and I really enjoyed it.
Who were your favorite professors?
Two men in my major field stand out to me as great instructors: Bob Kerce and Austin French. Dr. Kerce was demanding but fair, and he did me an enormous favor after I graduated from Lipscomb. When he found out I wanted to pursue graduate work, he personally called professors at Vanderbilt who began the enrollment process. His influence on another campus in town earned me a full scholarship and an eventual cost-free Master’s degree from Vanderbilt. I will never forget how he went the extra mile for me.
I took Advanced Calculus under Dr. French, and it was my favorite class in my time at Lipscomb. It was challenging, but enjoyable. I’ll admit it helped to have a fellow baseball player studying the same subject. Ted Jamison and I frequently studied together in the dorm, and that was a great benefit.
What do you do now?
While I was studying Biostatistics at Vanderbilt I grew interested in healthcare development, so when I graduated I went to work for a regional healthcare-planning agency. It was an emerging field that I fully enjoyed, so after 4-5 years a group of partners and I formed our own company, The Heritage Group, that assisted companies like HCA and other not-for-profit facilities with strategic planning and healthcare development. We ran it for about 20 years before selling it and unofficially retiring. Since then I’ve been consulting, vacationing, and playing a lot of golf.
Tell us about your family:
On January 4 my wife, Angela, and I will celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We have two children, Melissa and Jonathan. Melissa is a registered dietician and married to Farrell Nowland, and Jonathan is working in the music business in Nashville. We have several “grandcats.”
- Favorite food: Lasagna
- Favorite TV show or movie: Bull Durham
- Favorite scripture: Galatians 5: 22-23 – " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
- Favorite sports team: Alabama football, thanks to my daughter
- Person I most admired: Batsell Barrett Baxter, the minister who married us
- Favorite season: Fall (football and basketball!)
- Pick one – salad or dessert: Dessert – pecan pie with vanilla ice cream
- Dream vacation spot: Pebble Beach
- Early morning or late night person? Early morning, thanks to the morning team at Fox News.