Bunton, along with 14 players, one coach, one umpire and two contributors were inducted in a ceremony at the Sheraton Chalet Hotel at Westport.
“I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by great people and athletes over the years,” Bunton said. “It’s nice to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’ve been lucky to be around good people all this time.”
Bunton was a catcher for Parkway North in high school and he was a captain in 1978.
He played Legion baseball and his coach was Keith Gutten, who is the longtime head coach at Missouri State.
In college at Southeast Missouri State, he was a second baseman.
In high school, Bunton was an all-conference player. He was all-Midwest region and all-MIAA (Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association) in college.
“Bob Robben was my coach and he was a good one,” Bunton said. “I played baseball at SEMO for the late Joe Uhls. He was a legendary coach. I played for him for four years. I stayed on as a grad assistant and then I got a job at Parkway North in 1983.
“I coached 18 years under Robben and then took over the baseball program.”
It was in good hands.
Bunton was named the Suburban South Coach of the Year three times [2002, 2003, 2007] and reached the Missouri state Final Four in 2003.
He also managed the Creve Coeur Post 397 team from 1982-87 and was Coach of the Year in 1987. He amassed three division championships and a district title.
Bunton enjoyed his experience leading the Legion team.
“I did like it,” Bunton said. “Coaching Legion ball is a young man’s job. There’s no pay. You’re running around summer nights and your kids are little and you need support from your wife. Back then in those days, it was true Legion. There was a boatload of talent. I had North and Central kids. We had good teams.”
Bunton lamented Legion baseball is not what it once was. With the rise of club and traveling teams, the talent is much more diluted than when he coached.
“It’s sad to say we don’ have a Creve Couer Legion team anymore,” Bunton said. “Earl Mueller was the heart and soul of Creve Couer Legion baseball. He gave kids a chance to play. He gave me an opportunity to coach. He was a great man and an unselfish man. I was very lucky to be around him.”
Bunton noted he was surprised to be inducted despite his accomplishments as a player and a coach.
“It was unexpected. These honors come with longevity,” Bunton said. “As my brother [Bill] said, ‘they must have been drawing out of a hat.’ Bill was a 2014 inductee and he still plays.
“When I called him and told him, he said ‘Man, they must be hurting.’ But it’s all good.”
Bunton remains the head football coach at Parkway North.
“Football is my passion but baseball was fun to coach, too,” Bunton said. “No question, I really enjoyed my time coaching the baseball team.”
The Final Four trip was a big thrill.
“You don’t make the Final Four without great talent and you have to be a little lucky, too,” Bunton said. “It was a great memory.”
Family was the reason he gave up being the head baseball coach.
“When I took over for Bob in 2002, my boys were entering high school,” Bunton said. “Having both head coaching jobs was difficult. My boys were entering college and I wanted to be able to see them play so I stepped down.”
He is an assistant baseball coach now, helping Mark Reeder, the head coach.
“I’ve enjoyed that. It’s a great role for me in the spring,” Bunton said. “I enjoy not being a head coach in the spring. Mark was my ace on the 2003 Final Four team. It’s nice working with him.
“My son Mike is on the staff too, and this past spring I got to coach with my youngest son, Ross, who joined the baseball staff as a JV coach. It was fun to coach with two of my sons.”
It’s been a great ride for the past coaching sports for the past 35 years, Bunton said.
Making the Hall is a nice reward for all that time.
“It’s such a great honor,” Bunton said. “It was a real nice ceremony. Each guy got to have an acceptance speech. I’ve just been very fortunate to be around great people.
“Each of us got a ring. It’s a nice ring. It was a first-class banquet.”