The recent Joplin Sports Authority Hall of Fame induction ceremony triggered special memories for me.

It's been my pleasure to know each of the inductees personally. The late Porter Wittich was my first boss at this newspaper. As a sports writer and editor of The Globe, I wrote about the exploits of Virginia (Gingy) Jeans Laas, Jimmy Dailey and Tom Hilton. And I count Coach Mickey Heatherly among my closest friends.

I wasn't actively covering high school sports when Mick coached at Parkwood, Memorial and Joplin High School, but it wasn't difficult to appreciate the job he did as the defensive coordinator at Parkwood and as head coach at Memorial and JHS.

Gingy Laas, the daughter of Dr. Virgil and Virginia Jeans, was a good junior golfer at Twin Hills and was hailed as the heiress apparent to Joan Thomas as the city's best woman golfer. Gingy developed into an outstanding player, but her role as a wife and mother took precedence over golf. She won numerous tournaments and awards, played in some prestigious national events and captained the Joplin women in Horton Smith Cup matches.

Jimmy Dailey, until Gary (Cat) Johnson came along, was the role model for point guards in this city. A tremendous ball handler who made few mistakes, Jimmy helped lead Joplin to the 1955 state basketball championship as a junior. The 1956 Eagles were as good, and maybe better, but Springfield Central stunned JHS in the regional championship.

It was good to see several members of the 1955 squad in attendance at the banquet: Bob Turner, Gary Cox, Ronnie Maupin, Mike Robertson and Smoky Joe Ensley. The scoring leader of that team, center Gary Smith, passed away last year.

Tom Hilton was a solid southpaw pitcher at Parkwood and Missouri Southern, but it was in coaching baseball that Tom really excelled. He developed some outstanding pitchers as pitching coach at the University of Arkansas and won over 75 percent of his games as head coach at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan.

Most readers of this newspaper are probably familiar with Heatherly, Laas, Dailey and Hilton. They may not be aware of the contributions Porter Wittich made to high school, collegiate and professional sports in the Four-State area.

As I mentioned earlier, Porter was my first boss at the Globe. Oh, he didn't hire me. But he did recommend me to Ray Cochran, the Globe's managing editor who did the actual hiring.

It was April of my senior year (1951) at JHS that Porter's assistant, Bob Burns, received his draft notice. I had covered Joplin football and basketball teams on the road as a junior and senior and was sports editor of The Spyglass, the school newspaper.

My first day on the job is one I'll always remember. Porter, the official scorer, was leaving to cover a Joplin Miners baseball game. He tossed several pieces of Associated Press copy on my desk and said, "Put some heads on these stories."

Porter had written the column width and type size he wanted on the copy, but he forgot to give me a headline schedule. George Ober, the Globe's city editor, bailed me out by hastily putting together a copy of the Globe's headline styles and sizes.

Porter taught me several lessons in putting out a sports section. One I tried to pass along to the writers who later worked for me was "Let your reporters write and develop their own style." While he might change grammar and punctuation in my copy, the content and ideas were my own.

My boss wrote a daily sports column which always appeared in the left hand column on the lead page. His "Globetrotter" column was one of the most popular pieces in the newspaper. Coaches and athletes checked the Globe everyday to see if their names appeared in the 'Trotter.

Another thing I marveled about Porter was his speed on the typewriter. To me, he used only his index fingers but son Joe said he also used his middle fingers. I only know his fingers flew across the Underwood keyboard.

When Porter left the Globe staff and joined the afternoon paper, The News-Herald, he did double duty for a while as a columnist. He continued to write the Globetrotter for the Globe and launched "Of Cabbages and Kings" in the News-Herald. This column, which touched at the heart strings, also had great readership. I remember one piece about a little girl standing by a casket in Parker Mortuary. A parent had passed away and Porter, always the wordsmith, painted a portrait of the girl sobbing as she peered into the casket.

Porter Wittich had many friends in the sports world. During his lengthy tenure at the Globe, he wrote about professional baseball, wrestling and boxing, high school football, basketball and track, Golden Gloves boxing, and amateur golf. His list of friends included Mickey Mantle, two-time Masters champion Horton Smith, pro boxers Joe Louis and Archie Moore, Missouri University football coach Don Faurot and Missouri Hall of Fame sports announcer Bill Grigsby.

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