By: PRO-DAY Baseball Media Services
Pine Bluff, AR – On New Year's Eve, family, teammates and many friends will pay their respects to John David Barfield who lost his life on Christmas Eve in Little Rock (AR).
Barfield, a 1983 graduate from Pine Bluff High School who went on to pitch in the Major Leagues with the Texas Rangers (1989-91) after being selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft in 1986.
After leading his Pine Bluff Zebras to the 1983 State Championship, which started a four-year “Arkansas High School Baseball Dynasty” title run (1983-86), Barfield signed to take his talents to Crowder Junior College (Neosho, MO) and then to Oklahoma City University when he was selected 267th overall by the Rangers.
“I remember when the Rangers drafted John David,” said former 45-year major league scout Bill Earnhart, who is the National Scouting Director for PRO-DAY Baseball. “Sandy Johnson (Rangers Scouting Director) asked me to fly into Little Rock from Arlington right after the MLB Draft and I met with John David and his father (Jack) at the coffee shop at the airport.
“He and his father were so nice to me when we met,” said Earnhart, “We visited for a little bit and then I signed him to a professional contract there at the Coffee Shop inside the airport.
'John David was excited to get started,”added Earnhart.”He was above average college pitcher when we drafted him and then worked to become a good “Big League” pitcher. I hate to hear this news, John Barfield was a good guy.”
Five-time All-Star Torii Hunter, a 1993 Pine Bluff High standout, who played with the Minnesota Twins, Anaheim Angels and Detroit Tigers during his career (1997-2015) that led to winning two Silver Slugger Awards and capturing nine “Gold Glove” titles was shocked to hear the news on Barfield.
“Awww man, I can't believe it, “said Hunter, who was celebrating Christmas with his family at his home in Prosper (TX). “He use to come back to Pine Bluff High and throw batting practice to our team, before he would leave for spring training.
“Everyone liked John,”Hunter said. “I really hate to hear this.”
Mike Jeffcoat, a 1977 PBHS graduate was a teammate with Barfield during Johns days with Texas and current Head Baseball Coach at Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth reflected back during his time being a teammate with him.
“John was the type of teammate you liked to have, always positive, happy and enjoyable to be around,” said Jeffcoat. “He was liked by all of his teammates.”
Jeff Gross, a teammate and member of the 83-84 state championships at Pine Bluff was a Ranger Scout (1989-1993) along with his brother John.
“JD was a great teammate and fun to be around,” said Gross. “I remember when we did our first-ever PRO-DAY Baseball Camp in 1989 at Legion Field in Pine Bluff.
“Mike Jeffcoat, my brother, JD and myself worked with about 50 young kids teaching the fundamentals of the game. JD was so wonderful with the players, he stayed and talked to everyone until it was time to lock up the gate.
“Later on when visiting him at a game in Arlington, I was talking to Nolan Ryan waiting on JD to come out of the clubhouse,” said Gross. “JD came over to me and whispered, can you believe I'm playing with Nolan. He was still young at heart while playing a kids game and that's why so many people loved him. Thanks for being a teammate and friend.”
Hall-of-Famer and 11x All-Pro Football player Willie Roaf of the New Orleans Saints (1993-2001) and Kansas City Chiefs (2002-2005) and a 1988 grad of Pine Bluff High School was saddened to get a call while visiting family in Atlanta (GA) before heading back to his Miami (FL) home.
“My condolences goes out to the family,” said Roaf. “We lost one of the great Zebras (PBHS mascot) to ever wear that uniform, a great person, who will be greatly missed.
“I know things weren't always easy for him, but now he's in heaven with our Lord and is in a better place,” said Roaf.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, December 31st at Ruebel Funeral Home in Little Rock (AR). Visitation will be at 1 pm. and service to begin at 2 pm. Burial will follow at Roselawn Cemetery.
In Leau of Flowers, the family request donations sent to: Zebra Baseball Club, C/O John Barfield, PO Box 3141, Pine Bluff, AR 71601.