A Branson entrepreneur and professional softball player is being honored in more ways than one in 2020.
Toward the end of last year Nolan Fogle received two very special phone calls. In the fall, Fogle said he was contacted by the Midwest United States Specialty Sport Association and told that he would be one of the 2020 Midwest USSSA Hall of Fame Inductees.
While he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2018, Fogle said this is just as big of an honor.
“The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is definitely a huge honor and it’s huge for the state of Missouri. This is the Midwest United States Hall of Fame, which is like a step towards, hopefully, the national hall of fame some day. This is an honor,” said Fogle. “As a softball player and as an athlete, it’s one of those things we strive for, to be inducted into a hall of fame.”
The second phone call came around three months ago when Fogle said he was asked to represent his country and be a part of the 2020 USA Men’s Softball Team and play in a Border Battle game against Canada.
“This will be a really amazing and cool opportunity for me. It’s an honor to represent the United States of America for no matter what it is, in anything, at any place and any time,” said Fogle. “But to be able to do it in a sport that I’ve played for 32 years and to have the opportunity to make a statement and go up to Canada and play against them and to win, hopefully, that is the goal, it’s really hard to even find the words to describe what it means to me.”
After winning both national and world titles in his three decade softball career and now being inducted into his second hall of fame and being asked to represent the United States on a team, Fogle said that all of his athletic successes can be traced back to series of lessons he received as a child.
“Like any farmer back in the 70s, we didn’t have a lot of money. But for me to be able to improve my game, when I was about 10-years-old, my Dad sold a couple of tools and used the money to hire a hitting instructor out of Houston, Missouri. This guy’s name was Harvey Carter, and Harvey Carter, back in the day, was a big name. He had a career in baseball. Harvey came out and gave me hitting lessons in our alfalfa field, in the middle of one of our hay fields.”
Fogle said that, while he has no idea how much it cost his parents, the impact of the lessons he received from Carter has been priceless.
“To be able to really get some instructions. It changed my athletic career immediately and I look back now and if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this game. It’s one thing to play this game. But when you’re able to play the game at the highest level and enjoy it because you’re playing well, it definitely makes a difference. It definitely helps,” said Fogle. Those lessons gave me the ability to play the game better, and anybody that could take the time to do that for somebody, you’ve got to know that the impact is lifelong. So here I am 40 years later, having played baseball and softball and been able to play it with a better ability, because my parents took the time to go the extra mile.”
Even though Fogle planned to milk cows his whole life, he said that after graduating from Plato High School, a chain of events started that led him to transition from playing baseball into playing softball.
“I went to a college just to visit where a friend of mine was going in Northeastern Oklahoma, in Miami, and got offered a baseball scholarship from the baseball team there. But I never even went to a practice. I dropped out after one-and-a-half semesters and came to Branson. One day, I was hanging out and … this guy called me and asked if I wanted to go to a softball game. I’m like, it sounds great,” Fogle said. “This would have been 1988 and the guys like, ‘Don’t you have a glove or something?’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about … I’m here to watch some girls play softball’ and he’s like, ‘No, we’re playing.’”
After playing that first game of softball down at the old Mang Field, where the Branson Landing stands today, Fogle said he’s continued to play ever since.
“I literally did not know that much at all about men’s softball and … I really thought we were going to watch girls play softball,” Fogle said with a laugh. “That was a team called John White Construction, and the guy that invited me was a guy by the name of Ron White. It was a great time for sure.”
After playing conference level ball for many years, Fogle said that 2020 comes with another big change.
“This will be my first year to play senior ball and I prefer to call it 50 and over, because senior sounds like senior citizen,” Fogle said. “This year I’ll be playing for a team that is actually going to help us with Benefit the Badge. The team will be called Benefit the Badge/Escobar Body Shop/Miken, which is the bat company that sponsors me and they’ll be sponsoring the team.”
Fogle will be officially inducted into the Midwest USSSA Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Independence on March 21.
On July 4, Fogle will be playing with the USSSA Senior USA Men’s team in Florida and will then face Canada with the ISSA Senior USA Men’s Softball Team in the 2020 Border Battle on July 31.
Fogle and his wife Babette are the owners of multiple restaurants in Branson including Pasghetti’s, Fall Creek Steak and Catfish House, Whipper Snappers Seafood Buffet, The Great American Steak and Chicken House, Cici’s Pizza and Branson Food Service.
Fogle also serves as the co-founder, president and CEO of the Fogle Family Foundation and Benefit the Badge, which is an organization devoted to raising funds to meet the needs of area law enforcement.