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.