By V.L. “Ben” Peterson
Special to The Globe
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Upon reading The Joplin Globe recently (Globe, April 5), I realized that fine accomplishments do count and bring wonderful responses and success stories.
However, there are some things that define Warren Turner that I personally enjoy and wish to acknowledge. Some baseball players — student athletes in my classes — had been taught well by this coach, even about manners and respect.
Some of those baseball players have gone on to sign professional contracts. One continues to contact me. Integrity and support are what Missouri Southern State University does so well. I think Turner’s players were drawn to him and found that off-campus projects brought them close to each other, to Southern, to Joplin and to successful lives further on.
Warren Turner spelled out respectfully that our school simply does not give away grades. Our other coaches are also are clear about how study and learning are the important tasks at hand. So much comes to mind, but for now I congratulate Turner for his active methods of teaching. I know that his players regularly do things for our entire community. But please, there’s more.
In the fall of 1979, I went to Becker Stadium to see what was going on. I had just arrived in town from Iowa to teach at Southern. Warren was near third base and had a rake in his hands, but he stopped his work to greet me. We had never met before. At the time, I wasn’t sure I would like Southern enough to stay. He said that he too had given some thought of going to another school. I liked his honesty and openness. Soon I was to learn that Warren virtually lived at Becker Stadium; he simply had a bigger yard than the rest of us.
Then he introduced me to Mutt Burgers and my wife and I watched the games. In those summers, young players came to town from nearly everywhere to play baseball. Warren knew how to start things, to lead and to make such events happen. Now 34 years later, we are both still here in Joplin with no plans to leave.
Allow me to touch on one other aspect of his character. I was teaching Spanish, and after he returned from his trip to Cuba, I attended his lecture about that island, its economic condition and its political thorn in our side. He spoke to us about the Cuban people, and no one had to guess about his deep inner passion for their freedom. I submit to the reader that Warren was and is a really fine teacher.
Anyone who knows him at all knows that he can teach you something, probably something about yourself.
He encourages others, and it is a sweet, though strong and real, humility that empowers such a friend and teacher. He should make a film: “The Natural II.”
Plus, he is still a cheerleader for all of us. I, for one, know that his character is sincere and multifaceted. He will continue to count, really count, as a fine teacher wherever we see him.
V.L. “Ben” Peterson