Accomplished journalist, editor and photojournalist William “Bill” Battle ’86 was recently nominated for the Missouri 2019 Photojournalism Hall of Fame. He will receive his award on October 17, 2019.
As a Missouri Military Academy cadet, Battle was highly involved in publications at MMA. He served as an editor for the Eagle magazine and At-Ease literary magazine, and helped contribute to MMA’s Taps yearbook throughout his high school career. He also served as president of the Quill and Scroll chapter at MMA, an international high school honor society that recognizes scholastic journalism achievements.
“MMA was a major influence on what I'm doing today and I probably wouldn't be doing this had I not attended MMA,” Battle said. “My first decision at MMA never seemed to be that important. I was asked what elective I wanted to take. I considered the theater, but had worked on my junior high school newspaper, so I chose journalism. Capt. Scott Spangler (then a lieutenant) was a major inspiration in turning me into a journalist.”
In fact, it was Spangler’s idea that Battle begin writing his own column, which they named “Battleline.” Although it began in 1984 at MMA, Battle continued to contribute to it throughout his career. The column has since appeared in Meramec Montage, Southeast Missouri Capaha Arrow and the Missourian since 1990, and won a Missouri Press Association first-place honors in 2019.
“I found success in journalism at MMA when other aspects weren't necessarily going so great in my cadet life,” said Battle. “By the time I got to college, I had been in the journalism class for four years and found it was something I wanted to do as a professional career.”
MMA recognized Battle’s journalistic prodigy as a cadet, awarding him the Lyle C. Wilson Scroll for Journalism Award his junior and senior year. He was also added to MMA’s Athletic Hall of Fame for his management of the 1982-83 Colonels swim team and the 1985 Colonels football team.
After graduation, Battle went on to study mass communications with an emphasis on print journalism. While continuing his education, he began his career as a sports writer for the University of Missouri Maneater and then as a sports writer and editor for St. Louis Community College-Meramec Montage and Southeast Missouri State University Capaha Arrow.
By 1989 – only three years after his graduation from MMA – Battle became associate editor for Missouri Football Magazine.
“Doing the work on this publication with others from the newspaper staff was a lot of work, but a lot of fun in planning and making the first couple of editions come to life,” he said.
After college, Battle joined the Washington Missourian as a sports writer, photographer and darkroom tech, until he was eventually promoted to sports editor in 1996. In this position, Battle has covered the St. Louis Rams for all 21 seasons from 1995-2015, the Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans and the 2012 International Series game at Wembley Stadium in London.
“I've been fortunate to cover some big events,” Battle said. “I am also proud to watch the athletes I've covered go on to bigger and better things.”
Battle has won over 60 Missouri Press Association, National Newspaper Association and Associated Press photography awards with over 18 first-place prizes. To name a few of his other awards, he is a five-time winner of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (now National Sports Media Association) Missouri Sportswriter of the Year Award, and has won the National Athletic Trainers Association Excellence in Sports Medicine Reporting Award, the Missouri State High School Activities Association Distinguished Service Award and the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Service Award.
“I am proud to be able to work in a job I enjoy,” Battle said. “Not many can follow through from their freshman year of high school into what has become a 29-year professional career in the sports journalism industry.”
In addition to his journalistic achievements, Battle served as president and treasurer of the Greater St. Louis Base Ball Historic Society and is a founding member of The Perfectos, the first vintage base ball team in St. Louis City following the Washington Eagles. After its inception, he served as secretary and published the Perfectos’ newsletters.
Battle said he hopes current MMA cadets make the most of the discipline training they are receiving while at MMA to make the most of their future.
“What I learned at MMA was to get the job done and do the job right. The work ethic has kept me employed for all of this time,” he said. “Take the knowledge you have, the willingness to work hard and get the job done correctly, and you'll go far in your chosen field. Don't get too comfortable. In the paper business, we're only as good as the last thing we put out. If you keep that approach, you won't ever get complacent.”
For those who wish to attend Battle’s Photojournalism Hall of Fame induction, please RSVP here. The ceremony will be held at the Center for Missouri Studies in The Sam B. Cook Hall (605 Elm Street, Columbia, MO 65201) on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 4 p.m.
MMA is proud to count Battle among our noteworthy alumni.
Photos taken as an MMA cadet:
1985 JV Game — Marc Magnon rolls out while being pursued by Centralia defenders.
1985 — Felix Ware makes a catch against Wenworth Military Academy in Lexington in a varsity game.
Top pro photos taken as a career photojournalist:
Over the Top — St. Louis Rams rookie running back Isaiah Pead leaps over the pile to score a touchdown in the second half of the Governor's Cup game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The score helped the Rams defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-17.
This photo won first place in 2012 MPA Best Sports Photo Weeklies - Class 3 and third place in 2012 NNA Best Sports Photo Non-daily Division, circ. 10,000 or more.
Umpire Garth DeFelice knocks down St. Louis Rams running back Kenneth Darby during the 2008 season finale Dec. 22 at the Edward Jones Dome. Darby had been trying to use DeFelice as a shield to avoid a San Francisco 49ers tackier and instead ran into the official, who knocked down Darby. The Rams lost the game, 17-16.
A 2008 first place photo —it was the cover shot of the Pulisher's Auxiliary NNA 2009 BNC & BNAC Winners edition. The photo also earned a first-place award in the Missouri Press Association contest.
Lucky 13 — Hermann players rush the floor after beating Arcadia Valley Saturday in Cape Girardeau for the school’s 13th state volleyball championship. Hermann won in three games over Arcadia Valley to claim the MSHSAA Class 2 state title, 25-21, 21-25, 25-17.
Winner of the National Newspaper Association Best Sports Photo Non-daily Division, circ. 10,000 or more.