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 from the early 1900s until 1919.
“Slippery” Harry Ealls played in Joplin in 1903 and 1904. He was 4-5 with a 2.61 ERA in 14 games for the Cleveland Naps in 1906 at the age of 36. He died in 1940.
Mike Welday played in Joplin in 1903-05. The outfielder played 53 games in the majors for the Chicago White Sox, hitting .202. Welday died in 1942 and is buried in Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Kan.
Dick Bayless played for the Miners from 1904-06. The outfielder made his major league debut in 1908 and played 19 games for the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .225 with one home run. Bayless was born in Joplin in 1883 and died in 1920 in New Mexico.
Rudy Bell played in Joplin from 1905-06. In 1907, he played 17 games for the New York Yankees and hit .212. He died in 1955.
Fred Ketcham played for Joplin in 1905. The outfielder previously played 20 games in the majors in 1899 and 1901. Ketcham died in 1908 at the age of 32.
Kid Durbin pitched for Joplin from 1905-06. The Lamar, Mo., native made it to the majors as an outfielder and pitcher, playing for the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He died in 1943 and is buried in Kirkwood, Mo.
Cy Slapnicka pitched 11 games for the Miners in 1908. He pitched 10 games combined in the majors for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. Slapnicka was later general manager for the Cleveland Indians from 1935-41. He also scouted for the Indians, Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. Bob Feller was one of his discoveries. He died in 1979 at the age of 93.
Jack Wanner played for Joplin in 1908. He played three games for the New York Yankees in 1909, finishing his major league career with one hit. He died in 1919.
Ralph “Lefty” Bell pitched for Joplin in 1910, earning a 21-7 record. He pitched three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1912. Bell died in 1959.
Howie Gregory played for the Miners in 1910. Gregory pitched three games for the St. Louis Browns in 1911. He died in Tulsa, Okla., in 1970 at the age of 83.
Marc Hall pitched 33 games for the Miners in 1910, earning a 21-9 record. He played three seasons in the majors, finishing with a 15-25 record and .325 ERA. The Joplin native died in Joplin in 1915 at the age of 27. He is buried in Diamond Cemetery in Diamond, Mo.
Earl Hamilton was 19-8 for Joplin in 1910 and pitched again for Joplin in 1933. In between, he played 14 seasons in the major leagues. Hamilton was 115-147 with a 3.16 ERA in the majors, pitching for the St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Hamilton later owned minor league teams. He died in 1968.
Ed Hawk played for Joplin in 1910. The Exter, Mo., native pitched five games for the St. Louis Browns in 1911. He died in Neosho, Mo., in 1936 and is buried in Gibson Cemetery.
Joe Kelly competed for the Joplin Miners in 1910. The Weir City, Kan., native played five seasons in the majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Boston Braves. The outfielder finished his career with 300 hits. He died in 1970 at the age of 90 and is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in St. Joseph, Mo.
Don Flinn played for Joplin in 1914. The outfielder played 14 games for the Pirates in 1917. He hit .297 in his limited opportunities. He died in 1959.
Frank Thompson played for Joplin in 1914. The infielder was in 22 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1920. The Springfield, Mo., native later managed in the minors. He died in Webb City, Mo., in 1940 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Joplin.
Walter Carlisle played for Joplin from 1917-18. Earlier in his career, he played three games for the Boston Red Sox in 1908, playing as a teammate to then-41-year-old Cy Young and then 20-year-old Tris Speaker. As a minor leaguer in the Pacific Coast League in 1911, he completed the only known example of an unassisted triple play as a centerfielder. Carlisle died in 1945.
George Cochran played for Joplin in 1917. The infielder played 24 games for the 1918 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, which included Babe Ruth. Cochran died in 1960.
Pat Collins played in Joplin from 1917-19. He went on to play 10 seasons in the majors and was on the 1927 New York Yankees, which is arguably the greatest team of all time and included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The catcher was a .254 lifetime hitter and helped the Yankees win the World Series in 1927 and 1928. The Sweet Springs, Mo., native died in 1960 and is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Kansas City, Kan.
Josh Devore played for Joplin in 1917. He played seven seasons in the majors and finished with 520 hits and a .277 career batting average. Playing for the New York Giants in 1911, he finished 22nd in the NL MVP race with a .280 batting average, 158 hits, 61 stolen bases and 81 walks. He helped the Boston Braves win the World Series in 1914. Devore later was a minor league manager. He died in 1954.
Oscar Graham pitched for Joplin in 1917 at the age of 38. He previously pitched 20 games for the Washington Senators in 1907. Graham died in 1931.
Herb “Iron Duke” Hall played for Joplin from 1917-18. He pitched three games for Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers in 1918. Hall died in 1970.
Shags Horan played for Joplin during the 1917 and 1919 seasons. The outfielder played 22 games for the New York Yankees in 1924. He hit .290 in his limited opportunities and died in 1969.
Longtime minor leaguer Newt Hunter played for Joplin in 1917 at the age of 37. He also played 65 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1911. He later served as a scout for the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies. He also coached for the Phillies. Hunter died in 1963.
Lyman Lamb played in Joplin from 1917-20 and in 1931. Lamb hit 100 doubles over 168 games during his 1924 minor league season with Tulsa. He played 54 games for the St. Louis Browns over the 1920 and 1921 seasons. He died in 1955 and is buried in Joplin’s Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery.
Rolla “Lefty” Mapel pitched for Joplin from 1917-19. He pitched four games for the St. Louis Browns in 1919. He died in 1966.
Howard “Muck” McGraner pitched for the Miners in 1917. He previously pitched for games for the Reds in 1912. He died in 1952.
Roy Sanders pitched for Joplin in 1917, earning an 18-12 record. The Pittsburg, Kan., native played for the New York Yankees in 1918 and the St. Louis Browns in 1920. He played 16 seasons in professional baseball. Sanders died in 1963.
Bill Burwell pitched for Joplin in 1917. He went on to pitch 70 games in the majors for the St. Louis Browns and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a major league coach and scout. He died in 1973.
Louis “Chief” Leroy pitched for Joplin in 1917. He pitched 15 major league games for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
George Boehler pitched for Joplin from 1918-20. The 6-2 righty pitched parts of nine seasons in the majors for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns, Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Robins. He was a minor league strikeout leader in four different seasons. Boehler died in 1958.
Rudy Hulswitt, who began his professional baseball career in 1896, pitched from 1918-19 for Joplin during his 40s. The infielder played seven seasons in the majors and finished with 564 hits. He led the National League in putouts as a shortstop in 1902 and 1903 for the Philadelphia Phillies. He also managed in the minors, coached in the majors and served as a scout. Hulswitt died in 1950.
Dick Crutcher pitched for Joplin from 1918-19. He previously pitched for the Boston Braves in 1914-15. Crutcher died in 1952.
Paul Strand played for the Miners in 1919. He played parts of four seasons in the major leagues for the Boston Braves and the Philadelphia Athletics. The longtime minor leaguer holds the record for most hits in a season with 325 over 194 games in the Pacific Coast League in 1923. Strand was inducted into the PCL Hall of Fame in 2004. He died in 1974.