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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Business 'turns up the heat' for fund-raiser 

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  •  By Chad Frey?Newton Kansan?Friday night John Bacon will walk out on the turf of Fischer Field and reunite with one of his high school coaches. But he won’t suit up for one last game.?He will stand next to former coach Rick Whitfield, and he will be inducted into the Newton High School Hall of Fame.?“This is a big honor, and humbling,” Bacon said. “I know who is in the hall, and you look at the list of the people who are not, this is humbling. There are quite a few people that deserve it that are not.”?He is humble, but his nomination form couldn’t fully contain a list of achievements — and it was accompanied by dozens of newspaper clippings to support his nomination.?Bacon was a two-sport standout at Newton High School — baseball and football. He earned all league and all state honors in both sports before graduating with the class of 1990.?“My teammates were important, all the sports I played were team sports,” Bacon said. “If we didn’t have good enough talent in the class, we would not have gotten the attention that we did.”?His senior year he led a team which finished third in the class 5A state baseball tournament, earning all state honors. That same year he earned all state football honors — and was offered scholarships to go play in college.?He turned down all the offers — for both baseball and football — to walk on as a part of the Wichita State baseball program. After a redshirt freshman year, he picked up a scholarship to play for the Shockers — but not as much playing time as he wanted as he “waited his turn.”?But he enjoyed WSU.?“I loved the opportunity of playing on those great teams at Wichita State,” Bacon said. “Three of the four years I was there, we were at the college world series. We were in the top 10 every year, and the program was second to none at the time. ... I don’t have any regrets. I treasure the friends I made that I still have today.”?With a year left, Bacon transferred to Central Missouri State University. In one season, he led the team in doubles and triples and was second in hits. The team finished third at the NCAA Div. II College World Series.?But the highlight of his athletic career is still in high school — and it’s not one most would call a highlight. The player who stole home to get his baseball team to state his senior year points to another day — one when he was a sophomore on the football team.?“Coaches (Ted) Jantz and (Rick) Whitfield were razzing me pretty heavy,” Bacon said. “I thought they were riding extra hard. When I had enough, I finally said something. Coach Whitfield looked me in the eye, grabbed my facemask and said ‘the day I stop razzing you is the day to start worrying.’ They were pushing me to get better. That was a light bulb moment for me.”?He says those two coaches had a big effect on him — as all of his coaches had. Bacon said the words that came out of his coaches mouths have shaped his life and who he is today.?Today Bacon lives near Kansas City — though his family is planning a move to St. Louis. He works for Aflac as a state training coordinator — but those things don’t define him.?He has a family — getting married and having a child within a year. There is another child on the way.?“I got married last year, and we had a child last year,” Bacon said. “I waited a little longer, but I found the right one. That has been great. ... I have a family and that is something I always wanted.”?His mother and father, along with siblings, are still here in Newton — and they will be celebrating as “Little Bacon” enters the Hall Friday night.?“I would not miss it for the world. Most of my family lives in the area,” Bacon said. My family, and my brothers, I could not have done it without them. ... Having two older brothers paved the way before me. It was easier coming to the high school when everyone knows you as ‘Little Bacon.’ They paved the way for me.”
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