Tom Hilton, Parkwood High School pitcher, attended Missouri Southern State College and played baseball. He was the pitching coach on Coach Norm DeBriyn’s staff at Arkansas University form 1978 through 1982. Accepted the head coaching position at Labette Community College in Parsons and remained there until retiring to enter private business. During a 17-year period at Labette, Hilton coached teams that won 75 percent of their games.
Coach DeBriyn said: “Tom was a good recruiter and an excellent pitching coach. He stressed mental toughness and was very good mechanically. He was very much a part of building Razorback baseball to a national power. We played for the national championship in 1979, losing 2-1 to Cal-State Fullerton.
“What really impressed me was the way Tom instilled discipline in his players and how hard they always played for him. He was fair and his players respected that. I also remember how he cared for each individual and the knew it.”
Scott Tabor, a former Arkansas pitcher coach by Tom, said that Tom wanted to change his mechanics when he came to Arkansas and he asked which ones. Tom answered, “All of them.” Tabor said he was a walk-on whose fastball went from 85 miles an hour to 91 under Hilton. Tabor holds Arkansas records for victories, 34, and complete games, 28.
A 1976 graduate of Missouri Southern, Tom began his coaching career at Diamond High School, coaching the Wildcats in 1976-77 and 1977-78.
Tom and his wife, Jay, live in Miami, Oklahoma where he is an agent for Shelter Insurance Companies. The Hiltons have two children: a daughter Whitney Thetge and a son, Wade Hilton, both of Joplin. The Hiltons also have one grandchild. Tom’s mother, Mrs. Donna Crampton, lives in Joplin.