By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
As a longtime coach, Ken Cochran has a special appreciation for the way Wendell Redden covered sports for The Joplin Globe.
“Wendell was a sweetheart of a guy,” said Cochran, who coached the 1959 Joplin High School state championship baseball team. “He was very positive. He didn’t have the poison pen like some of these guys do today. Having coached for 27 years, I met them all and he was the best.”
Cochran and the surviving members of the 1959 team honored Redden by creating The Wendell Redden Most Valuable All Sports Award. Cochran unveiled the 4-by-8-foot and 120-pound display in front of a crowd of about 30 people on Friday at Joplin High School. The display includes a photo of Redden, a description of Redden’s life and space for names of MVPs in all 19 of Joplin’s high school sports for the next 15 years.
Redden, who died in 2011, is a 1951 graduate of Joplin High School and was sports editor at The Joplin Globe from 1952 until he retired in 1995.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased to be able to display this,” Joplin High School athletic director Jeff Starkweather said. “It’s a tribute to Wendell Redden, who has been a friend of the Joplin sports programs. He’s a Joplin High graduate. That’s the neat thing about all of this. Coach Cochran is a Joplin High graduate. Wendell Redden is a Joplin High graduate. So we’re going back on our Joplin High history and tying it together with the athletes who will be honored for years to come.”
Even though the 1959 baseball team donated the display, Cochran thought it was only fitting to include all of the sports. After all, Redden covered all the sports at one time or another.
“Wendell covered everything,” Cochran said. “If you had a tiddlywinks team, he might cover that. We included all 19 sports and we settled on 15 years. Getting your name on this is going to be special for Joplin kids for years to come.”
The award will start with MVPs for the 2012-13 seasons and continue for the next 15 years. Cochran joked that a future state championship team can donate the next display.
Starkweather said the award will be displayed prominently.
“It’s a large deal,” Starkweather said. “We’re going to display it very proudly in our new high school, but we’ll find a place in this building as well until we get into the new place. We want to make sure everybody who comes into our facility can see this.”