McKendree Athletic Hall of Famer attends his final Bearcats basketball game
A man whose dying wish was to watch one more McKendree University men’s basketball game died on Monday.
Warren H. Barty, 75, died at MarKa Nursing Home on Dec. 26. Gary Williams, a friend of Barty, said Barty died peacefully after being in hospice care for several months.
Barty’s funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Bothwell Chapel on the McKendree campus in Lebanon. Memorials may be made to McKendree. Meyer Funeral Home in Lebanon is handling Barty’s arrangements.
Barty was a member of the McKendree Athletic Hall of Fame for his play on the school’s baseball team in the early 1960s. He continued to be a huge booster of the school after he left to play minor league baseball.
His death came 12 days after the school honored him prior to a men’s basketball game Dec. 14 against Salem International. Barty was given a basketball signed by the men’s basketball team and was honored in a pregame ceremony.
“This is tremendous,” Barty told the media prior to tipoff that night. “It means a lot.”
Barty enrolled at McKendree as a sophomore. During the 1960-61 season, Barty hit .312 and was among the team leaders in runs scored, stolen bases and runs batted in for a team that finished 19-4.
The following summer, he signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played minor league baseball for the Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.
An injury cut his professional baseball career short, and he went to Professional Baseball Umpire’s School in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1968.
He wound up umpiring two seasons in the Class A Florida State League.
According to his obituary, Barty worked as a real estate agent in Illinois and Florida for 40 years after he got out of baseball. Barty was a 1959 graduate of West Frankfort High School.
No survivors were listed in his obituary.
McKendree administrators were happy to have Barty back on campus one last time for his wish.
“As a very proud alum, it doesn’t surprise me with Warren,” Director of Athletics Chuck Brueggemann said Dec. 14. “With Warren and somebody like myself, it’s something you’d want to do — come back and see one last game.
“I know when he heard William Tell (the school song), he smiled and looked over at me. He’s been listening to William Tell and supporting Coach (Harry) Statham for 50 years. McKendree has played a special part in his life.”