Black History Month: The Wesleyan Way, Emmitt Carney ’79

by Mary (Turner) McDole ’79

Emmitt Carney ‘79 first visited Kentucky Wesleyan at the age of 15 when the Hopkins County youth baseball team came to Owensboro for a tournament. He and some teammates walked around campus after the games and Emmitt was impressed with how outgoing and nice everyone was to him. Emmitt was intrigued! Fast forward a few years, Emmitt returned to campus in January of 1976 to play for the Panthers under Head Coach Shafe Boles, as a pitcher and a centerfielder. 

After playing baseball for four years and earning the Best Pitcher Award in 1979 with an ERA of 1.16, Emmitt graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Radio and TV. Classmates and fellow team members remember Emmitt’s contagious smile, perpetual positive attitude, pursuit of excellence and his ‘will to win.’ He continued striving for excellence by completing a master of science in radio and TV at Murray State University.

“KWC was good to me,” Emmitt shared. “Everyone welcomed me with open arms and Wesleyan made a lasting impact on my life. I committed to doing everything that was required of me, to get my degree and to do it well. I am forever grateful to Coach Shafe Boles for making it possible for me to attend Kentucky Wesleyan, continuing my education and baseball experience.”

A master’s degree would not end his education. No, this Renaissance man shifted his focus to attending and graduating from the Kentucky State Police Academy in Frankfort, Ky., where he became the first Black State Trooper from Hopkins County in 1982. Additionally, he became the first Black Special Agent from Hopkins County in 1986. He went on to also become the first Black Kentucky State Police Academy Staff Instructor. Emmitt’s training carried on and he graduated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives National Academy, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga. in 1987. He then graduated from the Graduate Criminal Investigator (CIS), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco. Emmitt once again became a Special Agent, this time with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, at the Southern District of Indiana.

A law enforcement officer’s sworn duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property, to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression and the peaceful against violence. Emmitt Carney has indeed been a most resolute servant. As Special Agent with the U.S. BATF&E for 25 years, Carney played a lead role in several high-profile cases, including the arrest of church arsonist Jay Scott Ballinger and a K-Mart bombing case. He earned numerous awards as a law enforcement officer including:

  • The United States Attorney Award, Southern District of Indiana (Los Angeles Crip Drug Investigation, First Life Sentence in the Southern District of Indiana for Armed Drug Dealing/Firearms Trafficking and Money Launderings)
  • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Badges Without Borders Spanish Organization Inc.’s Directors Award
  • City of Fort Wayne’s Indiana Police Department Medal of Valor (33 Successful Undercover Narcotic Investigations with Convictions)
  • Kentucky State Police’s Commendation Award and CPR Life Saving Act
  • Induction into the Madisonville N. Hopkins Senior High School All Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 and again in 2013 as a member of the 1974 Baseball team
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012

After retiring from law enforcement, Emmitt continued to serve others through education and athletic instruction. When Emmitt and other baseball lovers in Indiana thought that the high school kids in their state were getting overlooked by college recruiters and pro-scouts, they decided to do something about it. They formed the Indiana Bulls program to give Indiana kids a chance to play summer travel baseball, touring the country and getting the exposure they needed. Players from this Bulls team have gone on to play at Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Stanford, Kentucky, Notre Dame and other major universities.

In addition to his role with the Indiana Bulls, Emmitt mentors young men in all aspects of baseball through coaching at numerous high schools and private training, sharing his attention to detail and focused discipline and encouraging them with his wisdom of “play the way you practice” and “it’s not how you start it’s how you finish.” Emmitt has instructed players who went on to play college and Major League Baseball including a few who now wear a World Series ring. Impressive!

Emmitt is also heavily involved with a Major League Baseball program called RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). This youth initiative is designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball. 

That radio and television degree came in handy when he assisted with the production of the book and 3-part video, “You Can Teach Hitting”, with co-authors Dusty Baker (Manager of the 2022 World Champion Houston Astros), Marvin Bittinger and Jeff Mercer, Sr. Carney also assisted with the production of a 3-part pitching video with Sport America Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

“As iron sharpens iron, men sharpen men” Proverbs 27:17 reads Emmitt’s signature line on his email. How appropriate. The principle of helping others improve their life or situation is how Emmitt Carney lives daily. He plans to write a book one day and it will no doubt be amazing. I know this writer wants to read that one. Emmitt says he does not have any kids, “but my love flows through a thousand of them.” Yes, it does. He says he has God’s favor and is a blessed man.

Emmitt, your friends, your alma mater and your community are blessed by you.