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Almost Yesterday is a glimpse into the rich history of our region. Dr. Frank Nickell takes listeners on a journey to specific moments in time, such as the first radio broadcast on KFVS, the history of Farmington’s Carleton College, and the short-lived safari on a Mississippi River island. A gifted storyteller and local historian, Dr. Nickell’s wit and love for the past are combined with sounds and music that augment his narrative.On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Almost Yesterday received First Place in the "Special Programs" category at the Missouri Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet in Kansas City, Missouri.Almost Yesterday airs every Wednesday at 5:42 and 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Almost Yesterday: Virdon Scholarships at Southeast

Bill Virdon

It seems like Almost Yesterday that the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team traded one of their most famous players, Enos Slaughter, to the New York Yankees for Mel Wright and four players to be named later. One of those four players, named later, was Bill Virdon, who became a successful major leaguer.

Born in Hazel Park, Michigan, William Charles Virdon grew up in West Plains, Missouri, and emerged as a great athlete, playing basketball for Drury College and in 1950 signing a contract to play baseball with the New York Yankees. After five years in the minor leagues, Virdon joined the St. Louis Cardinals and became Rookie of the Year in 1955.

On November 17, 1951, Bill Virdon married Shirley Shemwell of Neelyville, Missouri. The new Mrs. Virdon had graduated from Southeast Missouri State in the spring of 1951, with a degree in English and a minor in Spanish.

In May of 1956, Virdon was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he became a great center fielder, helping the Pirates win the 1960 World Series. After the completion of his 1,583 game career, Virdon became a successful manager with the Pirates, Yankees, Astros, and Expos.

In 2007, Mr. and Mrs. Virdon established two endowed scholarships at Southeast: (1) The Bill and Shirley Shemwell Virdon Scholarship, designated for a student from Neelyville who majors in English or Spanish, and (2) The Bill and Shirley Shemwell Virdon Athletic Scholarship for a member of the Southeast Baseball Team.

It seems like almost yesterday that the Pittsburgh Pirates achieved success in the 1960 World Series, - and Bill and Shirley Virdon established scholarships for student success at Southeast Missouri State University.

Frank Nickell is a retired history professor at Southeast Missouri State University.