The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Don Baker - Inducted 2023

Don Baker graduated from Scotland High School in 1950 and the University of South Dakota at Springfield in 1954. He earned 12 letters in college at USD-S in football, basketball, and track & field. He was all-conference in football and basketball and was one of the SDIC’s top distance runners. He was also a multi-sport standout at Scotland High School as well.

From 1956 to 1965, Baker taught and coached at Yankton High School. From 1965-73, he was the head track & field and cross country coach at USD-Springfield and head basketball coach for three seasons. He started the cross country program at Springfield. Baker came to the University of South Dakota in the fall of 1973 and prepared to take over the USD track & field program when he died at age 40 of an apparent heart attack.

One of Baker’s proudest moments as a college coach came in 1971 when his Pointers upset traditional track & field powerhouses in the conference to win the SDIC meet. It was the first conference track & field title in the school’s history, and it led the South Dakota Sportswriters to vote Baker as the 1971 College Coach of the Year for all sports.

Baker was also a well-respected basketball official and baseball umpire who donated much time and effort to Special Olympics. After Baker died, Special Olympics started an annual award in his honor; track & field meets and road races were named after him; and the USD cross country team that qualified for nationals in 1974 dedicated their successful season to him.

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