The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 18, 2013

Premier Baseball teams relive history of Whiz Kids, Miners

Mickey Mantle played for Baxter Springs, Joplin as a teenager

JOPLIN, Mo. — Cade Crouch remembered his grandpa telling him stories about the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids and the Joplin Miners. The legendary Mickey Mantle and pitcher Ralph Terry played for the Whiz Kids, while Mantle and a slew of other future major leaguers suited up for the Miners during their many years in the Western Association.

Crouch, who will be a senior at Webb City High School, was able to relive a bit of that past on Wednesday night.

As part of the 100th anniversity of Joplin’s Joe Becker Stadium, Crouch’s Midwest Nationals Blue team wore jerseys depicting the Whiz Kids during a game against Houston Kyle Chapman, which dressed as the Miners.

“It was a real honor for us to be the two teams picked to wear these jerseys,” Crouch said. “There’s a lot of history there.”

Houston defeated the Midwest Nationals Blue 5-3 on the opening day of the Premier Baseball Junior Championship tournament.

“I feel like it’s a game we should have won,” said Trey Turner, who will be a senior at Neosho High School.

Turner was the starting pitcher and allowed four runs in the first inning. But Turner settled down and followed with four scoreless innings.

“After the first inning I asked coach (Dave) Bingham for help, and I started getting it down more,” Turner said. “I started trusting my stuff.”

Midwest scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, but weren’t able to get the tying run.

Crouch, who pitched the seventh inning, and Turner said they have played 51 games this summer with the Springfield-based team.

Both players said they believe Premier Baseball is good competition to prepare them for their senior seasons and hopefully for college baseball.

Wednesday night’s game at Joe Becker Stadium helped kick off the first day of the 50-team tournament, which is played at fields in Joplin, Neosho, Seneca, Miami, Okla., Commerce, Okla., Baxter Springs, Kan., and Pittsburg, Kan.

The opening day featured plenty of tight games.

West Texas ABA’s Chase Freeman cracked a two-run homer in the top of the third inning to propel his team to a 2-1 victory over BC Rawlings Prospect Gold at Baxter Springs.

South Texas Sliders Mayer made the most of its four hits to edge New York Nine 3-2 at Seneca. South Texas took the lead in the fifth when Cole Jackson belted a three-run double.

Amarillo Titans Henderson scored one run each in the fifth and sixth innings to top the New England Ruffnecks 2-1 at Crowder Community College in Neosho. Amarillo’s Brandt Rush knocked in the go-ahead run in the sixth.

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