Those who know Lyndal Scranton understand he’d much rather be the one telling the story than be at the center of it.
The former New-Leader sportswriter spent more than three decades chronicling some of the greatest moments in Springfield-area athletics history. It was his job to put a spotlight on others, not seek attention for himself.
He was there when the Bears went on the run to the Sweet 16 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament, telling the stories of Steve Alford and Danny Moore. He was there during the Bears’ run to the College World Series in 2003 to write about Keith Guttin and Dant’e Brinkley.
He was there for countless others.
But whether Scranton liked it or not, Wednesday was a day to celebrate him and the others inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, a well-deserved day in which his impact on the Ozarks sports scene was honored.
Those he mentored laughed at the thought of Scranton being at the center of attention when it was nothing he never sought out.
“He deserves it,” former News-Leader sportswriter Kyle Neddenriep said. “I can’t explain to you what it meant to have him as a mentor to me. I don’t know if he saw me as someone who he was mentoring but when I went to Missouri State, I read the News-Leader every day. I knew who he was when I first started working there and he took me under his wing and I just tried to learn as much as I could about being a beat writer.”
Neddenriep need not worry, as Scranton took great pride in mentoring others over his career, as he had been.
When Scranton was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, the Central and Missouri State grad spoke about how much he enjoyed learning the business from the likes of Marty Eddlemon and Larry Hazelrigg.
He also added that he wanted to be remembered for having a hand in mentoring Neddenriep and former News-Leader sportswriter Eric Bailey.
“When I think of Hall of Famers, I think of someone who’s the best at their craft,” Bailey said. “That’s exactly what Lyndal is. He’s the best at what he does. He covered Missouri State for so many years and the respect he had from the fan base, from his peers and from administrators speaks for itself. He always had just the quiet demeanor and there was so much respect around him.”
Bailey and Neddenriep have since moved on from the News-Leader but each considers their former co-worker as someone who was as instrumental as anyone early in their careers. Scranton’s influence has continued into their current jobs, even though they’re more than a decade removed from working in a Springfield newsroom.
Neddenriep, who wrote for the News-Leader from 2000 to 2008, is the top high school sports reporter at the Indianapolis Star and has received multiple Indiana Sportswriter of the Year honors in previous years. Bailey, who worked for the News-Leader from 1996 to 2004, currently writes for the Tulsa World and has made his name known covering Oklahoma Sooners athletics.
Springfield Sports HOF Induction:
Former News-Leader sportswriter Lyndal Scranton named to Hall of Fame
Neither thinks he would have as much success if not for Scranton’s guidance.
“I just watched the way he handled things and I had never been around that,” Bailey said. “He worked hard. He and Art Hains were the voices of Missouri State. If you wanted to know what was going on, that’s who you listened to or read. I had always been impressed by the way Lyndal handled himself during some of the big stories.”
“Lyndal just had a good way about him not telling me what to do and allowing me a chance to do stories that were basically on his beat,” Neddenriep said. “I thought we were a really good team. That meant a lot to me because I knew how respected he was. It was all about just being a sponge when I was around him.”
Neddenriep attended Arch Madness with Scranton and remembered a road trip to UT Martin in which he slept the whole drive. He woke up to a laughing Scranton who didn’t let him forget it.
Bailey, after starting as a small-colleges beat reporter, took over the Lady Bears beat and had an opportunity to work alongside Scranton with Missouri State coverage. He got to watch up-close how to build relationships and how it would turn into better feature stories and enhance his coverage. There were the occasional times he would golf with Scranton in a group or sit down with his mentor and pick his brain in the media room at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.
Scranton upon his NL departure:
So long: It’s been a privilege to cover Ozarks sports for 36 years
Read Mark Stillwell’s Column “Area Sports Scene is losing a true professional with the retirement of Lyndal Scranton”
Fittingly, among those inducted into the hall of fame with Scranton on Wednesday was former Missouri State men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson, whom Scranton told countless stories about over his career. The sportswriter would have preferred all eyes to be on the energetic coach and the others being honored instead of himself.
But those who have read Scranton’s work or have gotten to know him behind the scenes know how deserving the honor is. He’s left his impact on the area, including by being someone former and current News-Leader sportswriters look up to.
“He was just an easy person for me to learn from at a crucial part of my life when I was just learning what I was doing at a daily paper,” Neddenriep said.
“He knew we were always watching,” Bailey added. “He knew we were always learning and we were just kids when we were working there. He was the ultimate journalist and he always took time for the young journalists, the up-and-comers, to help him. He’s always going to be the first sportswriter that I looked up to.”
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or X at @WyattWheeler_NL. He’s also the host of the weekly “Wyatt’s World Podcast” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms