A photographer whose work has captured the area’s sports scene for nearly three decades was inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame Thursday.
Bill Battle, Missourian sports editor, received the honor at a ceremony held at the State Historical Society of Missouri in Columbia before a crowd of about 150 people, which included past inductees, his family and current and former colleagues.
Battle’s photographs were on display at the induction ceremony and at an exhibit at the Missouri School of Journalism a block away from the Historical Society.
Bill Miller, Sr., who founded the Photojournalism Hall of Fame in 2005, paid tribute to Battle at the ceremony, saying his work ethic in the area of covering high school sports was unmatched.
“I’ve admired his work for a long time,” Miller said. “I’ve covered high school sports in my career and I couldn’t come close to holding a candle to the way Bill does his job. His pictures capture the joy of winning for players and the agony of defeat. His photos tell the story of the game and the intensity of the competition on the faces of his subjects.”
Miller praised Battle’s skill as a photojournalist, describing him as “old-school.” He said you could wallpaper a room with all of the awards he has won over his career.
“Sports are a big thing in small towns today and Bill can be found at all of these events in our community. He puts in the work and I can’t say enough of how proud I am to be on the same staff with him,” Miller added.
Battle told the crowd he was awful when he started taking photographs and he thanked all of the people who taught him the craft of photojournalism over his career, including Missourian Photo Editor Jeanne Miller Wood, who he said also deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.
“We are a community paper,” Battle explained. “We don’t have the staff to cover the Cardinals, Blues or Rams (when they played in St. Louis) on a daily basis. What we try to do is shine a light on our prep sports scene.”
Battle said he was very fortunate to work with “great people” and thanked the Missourian staff and his family for their support over the years.
Miller said Battle has a great sense of knowing just when to take a picture. He pointed to a picture on display at the ceremony that Battle took that appeared to depict a NFL official slugging a St. Louis Rams player during the 2008 season. The photo won both state and national awards.
“That photo told the story of the whole season the Rams had that year,” Battle explained. “It was a bad season all around. If you had just one photo to sum up the season, that’s the photo.”
Brian Kratzer, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and member of the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame committee, served as emcee of Thursday’s induction ceremony.
“Bill Battle shows a deep understanding of how sports leads to an award-winning career that is recognized not only within photojournalism, but also by athletic administrators, sportscasters and sportswriters,” Kratzer said. “If you are a journalist and the athletic administrators award your insightful journalism, then you’ve earned some respect.”
Miller also presented a proclamation during the ceremony, from the Franklin County Commission, recognizing Battle for his achievements.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame Thursday were Jim Curley of Kansas City and Columbia, Dan White of Kansas City and the late William Fambrough Sr. of Kansas City.
Battle is a 1990 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. That same year he started his career at The Missourian as a sports writer. He was named sports editor in 1996. He has won numerous state and national awards over his career, including National Sportscaster and Sportswriters Association’s Missouri sportswriter of the year five times.
His work in sports journalism brought him honors outside the industry, including being presented the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Missouri Interscholastic Athlete Administrators Association Service Award.