This year marks the 100th anniversary of historic Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin. The stadium was a home to minor league baseball for almost 40 years until the final season in 1954.
You probably know that Mickey Mantle played for Joplin during the 1950 season. But did you know that dozens of former Joplin minor leaguers reached the majors? Many of them played at Joe Becker Stadium after it was built in 1913.
Throughout the summer, I will share brief biographies of the former Joplin minor league baseball players who advanced to the majors, according to baseballreference.com.
This blog looks at the players who competed for Joplin in the 1930s.
- Bob Boken played second base for the Joplin Miners in 1930. He played parts of two seasons in the majors with the Washington Senators and the Chicago White Sox from 1933-34. He played 17 seasons in the minors and recorded 1,866 career hits. Boken died in 1988.
- Byron Humphrey pitched for the Joplin Miners from 1930-34. Born in Vienna, Mo., Humphrey had two relief appearances with the Boston Red Sox in 1938. He later served as a scout for the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals organizations. He died in Springfield, Mo., in 1992.
- Harry Kimberlin pitched for Joplin in 1930. He pitched parts of four seasons with the St. Louis Browns from 1936-39, finishing with a 1-4 record and 4.70 ERA. He had a standout performance in the 1938 Texas League All-Star Game, retiring the first nine batters and striking out five of them. Kimberlin was born in Sullivan, Mo. He died in 1999 and is buried at Memorial Gardens in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
- Cotton Tierney was a player-manager for Joplin in 1930. He played six seasons in the majors, highlighted by a .345 batting average with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1922. After baseball, he opened a bowling alley with Hall of Famer Zach Wheat in Kansas City, Mo. Tierney died in Kansas City in 1953.
- Cy Blanton pitched for Joplin in 1932, registering an 18-15 record and 3.72 ERA. He went on to pitch nine seasons in the majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies. He was an All-Star in 1937 and 1941 and finished 15th in the NL MVP vote in 1935 after recording 18 wins and a 2.58 ERA. Blanton died in 1945 at the age of 37.
- Joe Berry pitched for Joplin from 1933-34. He won 41 games in his two seasons. In 22 seasons in the minor leagues, he won 248 games with a career 2.61 ERA. Berry pitched parts of four seasons in the majors, finishing 21-22 with a 2.45 ERA. A successful minor league pitcher, he didn’t make his major league debut until he was 37 years old. Berry died in 1958 at the age of 53.
- Howie McFarland was an outfielder for Joplin in 1933. He played six games for the Washington Senators in 1945, earning one career major league hit. He died in 1993.
- Link Wasem was a catcher for Joplin in 1933. e eHe played two major league games with the Boston Bees in 1937. He died in 1979.
- Bud Davis played 130 games for Joplin in 1934 at the age of 38. He played 19 seasons in the minors, recording 2,720 hits. As a pitcher, he was 43-47 with a 1.95 ERA. Davis hit .308 over 22 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1915, but didn’t get another chance in the majors. He was 0-2 with an ERA above 4.00 in the majors. Davis won the Western Association Triple Crown in 1924, when he hit .400 with 51 homers and 190 RBI. He died in 1967.
- Les Willis pitched for Joplin in 1934 when the Miners were an affiliate for the Boston Red Sox. Willis pitched 22 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1947 when he was 39 years old. He died in 1982.
- Marv “Baby Face” Breuer was 14-14 with a 3.73 ERA for the Joplin Miners – now a New York Yankees affiliate – in 1935. He pitched five seasons in the majors for the Yankees, going 25-26 with a 4.03 ERA. He pitched in the 1941 and 1942 World Series for the Yankees. The Rolla, Mo., native died in Rolla in 1991 at the age of 76.
- Mike Dejan played for Joplin from 1935-36. He played 12 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1940. He died in 1953 at the age of 38.
- Oliver Hill caught 68 games for the Miners in 1935. He played two games for the Boston Bees in 1939, belting a double for his only major league hit. He died in 1970.
- Dutch Mele was an outfielder for Joplin in 1935. He played 17 seasons in the minors, totaling more than 2,300 hits. Mele played six games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1937. He died in 1975.
- Benny Bengough is the second Joplin Miner who played on the 1927 New York Yankees, which is considered by many to be the best team of all time. Bengough was a player-manager for the Miners in 1936-37. Previously, he played 10 seasons in the majors. He was on the famed 1927 Yankees, joining former Joplin Miner Pat Collins, who played in Joplin from 1917-19. Bengough helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1927 and 1928. He died in 1968.
- Red Hayworth was a catcher for Joplin in 1936. He played parts of two seasons with the St. Louis Browns in 1944-45 and played six games in the 1944 World Series, earning two hits. He was a team on the 1944 Browns with Pittsburg, Kan., native Don Gutteridge. He died in 2006 at the age of 90.
- Johnny Lindell was 17-8 as a pitcher for Joplin in 1936. He went on to pitch 55 games in the majors, but his main success came at the plate. Lindell was an All-Star in 1943, leading the league in triples with 12. He earned votes for the MVP in 1944 when he hit .300 with 18 homers, 103 RBI and a league-leading 16 triples. He helped the Yankees to World Series wins in 1943, 1947 and 1949. Later in his career, he returned to the mound and tossed 15 complete games for the Phillies in 1953. Lindell died in 1985.
- Mike Milosevich was a productive infielder for Joplin in 1936-37. He played parts of two seasons with the Yankees from 1944-45. He died in 1966.
- Johnny Sturm opened his professional baseball career with Joplin in 1936. He later returned as player-manager from 1948-49. Sturm played 124 games at first base for the Yankees in 1941. He helped the Yankees win the World Series, but it was his only season in the majors as he enlisted in the army during World War II. He died in 2004.
- Russ Derry played the outfield for the Joplin Miners from 1937-38. Derry led the Western Association in home runs with 24 in 1938. It was the first of four home run titles he won in the minor leagues. However, that power never really translated to the majors. He played parts of four seasons in the majors for the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals and finished with 17 home runs. The Princeton, Mo., native died in 2004 at Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.
- Al “Lefty” Gerheauser pitched in Joplin from 1937-38. He was in the majors for parts of five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Browns. He was 25-50 with a 4.13 ERA over 149 appearances. Gerheauser lived in Joplin and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Joplin. He died in 1972 at the age of 54.
- Eddie “Truck” Kearse was a catcher for the Miners in 1937. He played 11 games for the New York Yankees in 1942 and recorded five major league hits. Kearse later fought and was wounded during World War II. He received the Purple Heart and returned to the minor leagues. He died in 1968.
- Bill Burich played third base for Joplin in 1938. He had short stints in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and 1946. He played nine seasons in the minors and died in 2009 at age 91.
- Loyd Christopher was an outfielder for Joplin in 1938. He played a total of 16 major league games for three different teams. Christopher died in 1991.
- Butch Wensloff pitched for the Joplin Miners from 1938-39. Over parts of three seasons in the majors with the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians, he was 16-13 with a 2.60 ERA. He was on a World Series winner in each of those seasons. Wensloff was 13-11 for the Yankees in 1943 before missing several years of his career because of World War II. He helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1947. He played one game for the Indians when they won the World Series in 1948. Wensloff died in 2001.
- Ferrell Anderson was a catcher for the Miners in 1939. He played 79 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and 18 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1953. Anderson was born in Maple City, Kan., and played football for The University of Kansas, where he earned all-conference honors as a tackle. After his baseball career, he lived in Joplin and was active with the Little League program. He died in 1978 in Joplin at age 60 and is buried at Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery in Joplin.
- Claude Jonnard pitched 15 games for Joplin in 1939 at the age of 41. Before that, he pitched six seasons in the majors, highlighted by his 1922 season with the New York Giants when he was 6-1 with a league-leading five saves. Jonnard also appeared in the 1923 and 1924 World Series with the Giants. He played 22 seasons in the minors and finished with a 219-219 record. He was a scout with the Giants for many years. Jonnard died in 1959.