By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Ted Eberhard plans to attend the 2 p.m. Sunday exhibition baseball game in Joplin at Joe Becker Stadium between the Kansas City T-Bones and Wichita Wingnuts.
That’s no surprise, of course, if you’re familiar at all with Eberhard.
Joe Becker Stadium will bring a flood of memories — mostly pleasant — for Mary and Ted Eberhard.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Eberhard said during a Tuesday noon phone conversation. “Mary (formerly Cole of Joplin) and our daughter plan to go.
“I’ll have on a Yankee cap. No, it isn’t an old Yankee cap. It’s a modern cap. Tony Stark (former Joplin High School baseball coach) bought it for me.”
Tuesday morning had been good to Eberhard.
“We (Ted and son Joe) caught our limits of largemouth bass. They aren’t very big. But they’re good eating size. Joe right now is cleaning the fish. Later, Joe (visiting from Fort Smith, Ark.) and I may go for another round.”
Ted Eberhard, who’ll be 86 on Sept. 30, believes he was the opening pitcher in Joe Becker Stadium for Joplin in 1948.
“I’m pretty sure. I don’t remember the team we were playing,” Eberhard said with a laugh. “I don’t remember if we even won.”
He has no trouble recalling several of his teammates. Ex-Yankee Johnny Sturm, still a robust hitter, according to Eberhard, was the first baseman as well as manager. Future big leaguer Jim Finigan was on the Class C Western Association club.
The right-handed Eberhard, who posted a 6-10 record with a 4.53 ERA, also toiled in the Yankee system in 1949 (Quincy, Ill. and Grand Forks, N.D.) and 1950 (Greenville, Miss. and Browns-ville, Texas) before calling it quits.
Eberhard received a $6,000 signing bonus from the Yankees — Dutch Lorbeer was the scout — out of Beaumont (Texas) South Park High School. His monthly salary in Joplin was $200 and he stayed with Mr. and Mrs. D.T. Knight that season.
Mary and Ted were married on Sept. 25, 1949 in the First United Methodist Church, 501 W. Fourth.
Joe Becker Stadium later was “home” for Eberhard and assistant Charley Massey as they guided the Post 13 American Legion. Joe Eberhard earned a scholarship to Oklahoma State before finishing his degree and playing career at Missouri Southern.
“I practically was born at a ballpark,” Ted Eberhard said. “Dad was playing for Shreveport when I was born in Beaumont. Dad (Sam) and two of his brothers — one had Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell as a roommate for a while — played pro baseball for a few years.”
Ted and Mary live on a farm owned by daughter Melinda and husband Carl Helwig some five miles west of Columbus. Ted and Mary moved from Joplin 14 years ago.