The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 23, 2013

Mike Pound: Baseball stories open door to another era of the game

It was just a quick look of recognition and a low-key greeting, but to Garland Crowder, it meant everything. It meant he belonged.

It was 1963 and Garland, who was 17 years old, was in the visitors locker room at the old Kansas City Municipal Stadium. The New York Yankees were in town to play the Kansas City Athletics.

Garland grew up on a farm near Neosho and, until that trip, had never been out of Newton County. He had been summoned to Kansas City by the legendary Yankees scout best known for signing Mickey Mantle. The Yankees had agreed to give the young pitcher a tryout before the game.

Years earlier, that scout had signed Garland’s older brother, Joe. Mickey and Joe played on the same Joplin Miners team and had been good friends. Good enough that Garland remembers a young Mickey hanging out on the Crowder farm.

The scout took Garland to the Yankee locker room so he could put on a uniform for the tryout. After Garland was dressed, the scout took him through the clubhouse and into the training room. In the training room, Garland saw a familiar figure lying face down on a table getting worked on by a trainer.

“Mick, I’ve got someone I want you to meet,” the scout said.

The man on the table turned his head so he could see Garland.

“How’s it going, Crowder?” Mickey Mantle said with a smile and then turned his head back the other way.

That was it. No surprised look. Just a simple greeting from one ballplayer to another.

“It made me feel like I belonged there,” Garland said.

Before Garland told me that great story (and many others) about his minor league career, he wanted me to understand one thing: He in no way thinks he was anything special.

“None of us were anything,” Garland said. “We would have paid then to play baseball if we had any money, which we didn’t. We played for the love of the game.”

Garland’s daughter, Debbie Cutbirth, told me about her father and got him to talk to me. Garland, she said, doesn’t talk much about his baseball career.

Garland was so quiet about his career, in fact, that it wasn’t until the past few years that Debbie truly learned about his past. The more she learned, the more intrigued she became.

In the family home she found many of her dad’s old uniforms, several of Joe’s, and her father’s original professional contract. One of Joe’s minor league contracts, signed in 1948, states that he was to be paid $140 a month.

Debbie also reached out to other former minor league players in the area who played with her father, guys like Gary Crawford, Johnny Hanes and former major league pitcher and coach Cloyd Boyer, the eldest of the legendary Boyer baseball family.

The Boyer brothers — Cloyd, Clete and Kenny — and a number of Garland’s other baseball friends used to drop by the house to go hunting.

“At the time, I didn’t know who they were,” Debbie said. “They were just guys who went hunting with my dad.”

Of course, that’s the point. In their minds, Debbie said, those baseball players were just guys going hunting with a pal. They were guys who grew up with each other and spent their time playing a game they loved. None of them, Debbie said, thought they were anything special.

I don’t have the time or the space to tell you all the stories Debbie and Garland told me, but hopefully someday those and other great stories about Joplin’s baseball history will be told.

In the next few months, Debbie, who owns Wise Solutions at 832 S. Main St. in Joplin, hopes to put a number of Garland’s and Joe’s baseball artifacts on display. The goal, she said, is to someday find a place where the area’s baseball history can be displayed.

Because, contrary to what those long-ago boys of summer will tell you, they are special.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

Text Only
Local News
  • Ballot issues dominate GOP event

    A maze of campaign yard signs lined the sidewalk at Big Spring Park, leading up to a line of local candidates for public office with rolled-up sleeves shaking hands with potential voters.

    July 24, 2014

  • Mike Pound: It’s time for some football

    The arrests, the announced suspensions and the contract disputes can mean only one thing: Somebody is ready for some football.

    July 24, 2014

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hanaway says leadership missing under Gov. Nixon

    When Republican gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Hanaway walked into the banquet room at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant this week, she was greeted by some of Joplin’s more prominent business leaders.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Shrine Bowl band, cheerleaders, players arrive in Pittsburg this week

    Band members were the first Kansas Shrine Bowl participants to arrive at Pittsburg State University this week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Galena council rescinds landfill decisions

    The Galena City Council voted Wednesday to rescind decisions it made two weeks ago regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 23, 2014

  • Miami council waives fees for barbecue event

    The Miami City Council voted Tuesday to waive $3,750 in usage fees for Miami Elks Lodge No. 1320 for an upcoming barbecue championship at the Miami Fairgrounds.

    July 23, 2014

  • Carthage prepares for Marian Days

    The 37th annual Marian Days celebration will start in two weeks, and planning is well under way for the event that will bring tens of thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent to Carthage.

    July 23, 2014

Must Read


Amendment 8 in Missouri proposes a special lottery ticket to help fund state veterans homes. How will you vote?

For it.
Against it.
     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter