The Architectural Legacy of Garstang & Rea: Barbee Park’s Grandstand

Edward Knell is credited with bringing the first “bred” race horse to Jasper County (as well the “art of embalming”) in 1889. The lucky equine was named “Ben McGregor” and cost Knell an estimated $3,000 dollars, quite the figure at the time. However, as early as 1872, even before Joplin came into existence, a race track was built just south of town that ran a half-mile long. Another race track was built in 1879, along with stables, an agricultural hall, and a grandstand. Gilbert Barbee, one time owner of the Joplin Globe, House of Lords, and Democratic party boss, bought this park and named it Barbee Park. The grandstand featured in both images was designed by Garstang & Rea for Gilbert Barbee’s “driving park” for a price of $6,500.

Barbee Park was home to countless horse races, but also served as the venue for such events like the Firemen’s Tournament that was held on the grounds in 1908. It was at the park where Joplinites got their first real glimpse of the speeding prowess of some of the first motorized fire engines in the nation, as well one of the last fire engine horse team races in the city’s history. Unfortunately for Barbee, in the middle of an April night in 1909, the grand stand caught fire and was a complete loss, despite the best efforts of Joplin’s fire department. The grand stand was never rebuilt and in the 1920s, Barbee’s son leveled the track area to develop a neighborhood.

As Joplin history expert Leslie Simpson writes in her book, Now and Then and Again: Joplin Historic Architecture, “He built the Barbee Court addition right on the old race course, preserving the graceful oval of elm trees that once surrounded it…The outline of the old race track can be traced by looping around from 17th to 19th Streets from Maiden Lane to the alley between Porter and Harlem Avenues.”

Harlem Avenue today.

Joplin Miners: 1910 Western Association Champs

Our next photograph in the Joplin Miners series is the 1910 Joplin Miners.

1910 Joplin Miners: 1) Richard Rohn, 2) Marc Hall, 3) Ralph Bell, 4) George Watson, 5) Bruce Ross, 6) Harry Ellis, 7) Howie Gregory, 8 ) Ed Hawk, 9) W. Burton, 10) Earl Hamilton, 11) Thomas Harlow, 12) Lowthers, 13)Joe Kelly, 14) Bert Lamb.

In 1910, the Joplin Miners finished first in the Western Association and played their games at Cox Baseball Park. Richard Rohn, aka, Dick Rohn, was a hold over from the 1907 team. Ed Hawk, from Exeter, Missouri, made it to the St. Louis Browns in the Majors. While Joe Kelly went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Braves.

Joplin Miners: 1907

Baseball was an ever present pastime in Joplin, be it amateur or professional. Of the latter, the Miners held Joplin’s attention. In addition to our current series from the portfolio of Alfred W. Rea, we are going to present a short series of four team photographs of the Joplin Miners. Our first is the team from 1907:

1907 Joplin Miners

The 1907 Joplin Miners: 1) Owens, 2) Sylvester Oleson, 3) Charles Flemming, 4) Roy Gill, 5) Dick Rohn, 6) Jack Fillman, 7) Tony Vanderhill, 8 ) Manager Louis Armstrong, 9) Guy Harrington, 10) Abner Persch, 11) Conrad Welsch, 12) William George, 13) John Root, 14) Cecil Bankhead.

The 1907 Joplin Miners played at Cox Baseball Park in the Western Association League. Both Vanderhill and Fillman were “veteran” players who had played on previous Miners teams.

Be Like The Mick

A photo of the Miners from some time around 1910, possibly at Cox Field.

Long an institution of Joplin, the Miners baseball team entertained Joplin crowds for more than half a century. Among one of their greatest, if not greatest, players to wear the name Joplin emblazoned across the chest, was Mickey Mantle. For the low price of nearly $200 (okay, not that low), you can own a replica of the 1950 jersey that the Mick wore courtesy of Ebbets.com.  It’s a bit of flannel history.

 

Baseball, Not Just For The Adults

While we’ve discovered the baseball in Joplin played by men who were paid, and by those who weren’t, the sport wasn’t limited to adults. In the below photograph, we’ve a team of boys, perhaps a high school team, who had banded together to form a formidable looking team. Who knows, perhaps one of them eventually found himself donning a Miners’ uniform.

Perhaps a high school baseball team from Joplin's earlier days.

 

 

 

 

Source: Historic Joplin Collection

A Joplin Football Outing

By the 1890′s, both Joplin and Carthage had been bit by the football bug. Naturally, the two engaged in an intercity rivalry with teams from one traveling to play the other. In the above, the Joplin team has engaged a “four horse tallyho” to carry them to the proverbial battle ground, a field located on the east side of Main Street between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets. It was known as the Joplin Bicycle Track. It’s unknown if the local boys won the match, but we’ll just assume so. After all, their opponents WERE from CARTHAGE.

Source: Joplin Daily Globe.

Joplin’s Managers of Baseball

Recently, Joplin Museum Director Brad Belk chose to write briefly about Harry Francis Craft for the Joplin Globe. Craft was not the first nor last baseball manager to pass through Joplin either on the way to the Major Leagues or on their way after. Perhaps one of the earliest baseball managers was “Honest John” McCloskey.

McCloskey rolled into Joplin in 1887. 1887 was the year that the News Herald declared that Joplin finally decided to become serious about baseball. This resolve was put into effort by the construction of a baseball field at the end of a mule drawn trolley line on west 9th Street. The city advertised for players, apparently finding none at home who met their own criteria, and ended up hiring a number of players from the “Kerry Patch” area of St. Louis. At the same time, the paper noted, a boom in some eastern Kansas towns had led John McCloskey to managing in Arkansas City.

Successfully defeating the Kansas towns, McCloskey brought his team to Joplin and thrashed the hometown heroes. Henry Sapp, who had made money mining lead and later zinc, and had been a driving force behind the St. Louis hiring, quickly fired the team and promptly bought out McCloskey and his Arkansas City team. Victory followed for Joplin until summer came to an end and fall grew closer to winter. Eager to keep playing, McCloskey raised enough support among Joplin businessmen to fund a tour of Texas. Purportedly, the Joplin players may have been among the first to assume the title of “Joplin Miners” with the team name stitched on the front of their uniforms. In the process, the Joplin team defeated two national league teams traveling through the state, one from New York and the other from Cincinnati, and may have also contributed to the establishment of a Texas baseball league.

In the late 1890’s, McCloskey returned several times to Joplin to field a team. One team, the Giants, competed against the Bloomer Girls in 1898. A few years later, McCloskey found himself the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1906 to 1908. By his later years, the manager found himself without the success that had brought him a job in Joplin. Friends helped out McCloskey by contributing money to purchase the on and off again Joplin manager a home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Perhaps Joplin’s most successful baseball manager was Charles “Gabby” Street. Street was a son of Alabama and had a baseball career cut short by what Joplin newspaper man, Robert Hutchison called, “overindulgence in the bottled stuff.” Hutchison counted Street a friend and met with him and others every weekday morning during the off season to share their passion for the sport. One of the other regulars was Joe Becker, namesake of Joplin’s Joe Becker Stadium. Hutchison noted that Street earned the most fame as a player for catching a ball “thrown” from the top of the Washington Monument and as the catcher for Walter Johnson, a fellow teammate on the Washington Senators.

Street managed the Joplin Miners from 1922 to 1923, the former season being the one where the Miners won the Western Association championship. The success in Joplin lead him away from the city, but he later returned to make a home and to invest in real estate. He kept this home, according to Hutchison, before his major league appointment as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. At the Cards, Street managed from 1929 to 1933, taking the team to the World Series twice. Hutchison aptly described the two trips, “His Redbirds lost the 1930 World Series to Sly Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, four games to two. They met again the next year and the famed Gas House Gang ripped up the basepaths for a victory in seven hard fought contests.”

The World Series pennant was the highlight of Street’s career. Soon after he was let go from the Cardinals and only returned to the show one last time to manage a losing St. Louis Browns. As Hutchison then recalls, “Gabby came home to stay.” Later on, Street did return to St. Louis, but to provide color commentary for the Cardinals instead of coaching. At this time, a future radio commentator worked with him, Harry Caray. When Street passed away, he was buried in Mount Hope cemetery along with many of the other notable names in Joplin’s past. West 26th Street is named after the baseball coach, who likely will be remembered as the most successful of the baseball managers to find their way to Joplin.

Sources: Joplin News Herald, Robert L. Hutchison’s “Deadlines, Doxies & Demagogues,” and Baseball-reference.com.

The Schedule of the 1902 Joplin Colts / Miners

We previously discussed the emergence of Joplin’s first professional baseball team, the Colts who soon after became the Miners.  After some research, we uncovered what appears to be the schedule for the team that season in the Missouri Valley League.

1902 Joplin Miners' Missouri Valley League schedule

For a larger version click on the photograph

In the earlier post, we offered a team photo from that year.  To keep things fresh, we’ve added a photograph of the 1904 team.  A glance between the supplied rosters for the teams reveals some old faces and some new.

1904 Joplin Miners

1904 Joplin Miners

Sources: Joplin News Herald, Historic Joplin Collection

The Boxer McCormick

Over the years, Joplin saw its share of characters.   Alvin Clarence Thomas, the pool shark better known as “Titanic” Slim Thompson; Bonnie and Clyde; and Jim McCormick were just a few of the colorful folks who stopped but never stayed.

Boxer Jim McCormick

Boxer Jim McCormick

You may not recognize the name Jim McCormick unless you are a hardcore boxing fan.  McCormick, a native of Galveston, Texas, was at one time a notable boxer.  During his career he fought both John L.  Sullivan (Sullivan’s last match) and Jack Johnson (twice).

McCormick ran into trouble when he came to Joplin with business on the mind.  After meeting with a man named Dunham about opening a boxing school in Joplin, an altercation ensued, and McCormick was picked up for assault and robbery.

His wife, Lucretia Vincent McCormick, hired the Joplin law firm of Clay and Shepherd to defend her husband.  The two reportedly met when McCormick worked as Sullivan’s sparring partner and Vincent, a vaudeville singer, was part of Sullivan’s entourage while in Seattle, Washington.  They married in March, 1905, and had lived previously in Topeka, Kansas.  Interestingly, Lucretia noted that her husband’s real surname was Heiman, but used his mother’s surname of McCormick as his ring name.

Mrs. McCormick

Mrs. Jim McCormick

Although the details of McCormick’s life are incomplete, it can be assumed that after he and Lucretia hit the road in search of better luck.

Source: Joplin Globe