By the turn of the century, baseball had an established presence in Joplin in the form of amateur teams, both black and white. However, what Joplin did not have was a professional team and the Joplin Base Ball Association was created to change this fact and to “promote the great national game in this city.” The lead men behind the club was Arthur C. Cox, treasurer, Don W. Stuart, secretary and a manager of the Club Theater, and John A. Campbell, president. Joplin was to play in a six team league called the Missouri Valley League, the other teams involved were from Jefferson City, Springfield, Sedalia, Coffeyville, and Iola.
The Joplin Miners of 1902
The Colts, as they were initially named, had their first home at Cox Park and were watched by cheering fans in a brand new grandstand that seated 1,500. The grandstand featured special boxes for the scorekeeper and the press, plus 12 private boxes for those willing to pay for the privilege of a good seat. A good seat was needed as apparently for the first time in Joplin baseball history, only the players and umpires were allowed on the field. Under the grandstand, locker rooms complete with showers awaited the teams before and after the games.
The team was managed by Claud A. Marcum, considered locally as a seasoned baseball veteran who oversaw a “galaxy of stars.” Outfitted in uniforms ordered from Rawlings Sporting Goods of St. Louis, the team won their season opener against Springfield at Springfield, 11 to 6. Unfortunately, the Colts promptly loss their home opener against Springfield a few days later. By the end of the season, two notable events had happened. Joplin had failed to win the league pennant or even place in the upper half of the league and the Colts had changed their name to the Miners. From the end of 1902 and for many decades to come, the Miners provided Joplin with a team to cheer for and a pastime to enjoy.
Featured left to right in the photograph above are: Top Row – Wright Wickizer, catcher; an unnamed pitcher; Bert Dunn, pitcher; Claud Marcum, manager; Arthur “Rip” Reagan, pitcher; Peck Harrington, catcher and outfielder; and Lefty Greer, pitcher. Middle Row – Earl Taylor, pitcher, Don Stewart, secretary of the club; Arthur “Art” Cox, treasurer of the club; and William “Dolly” Gray, first baseman. Bottom Row – Bert “Monk” Senter, shortstop; Jimmie Underwood, outfielder; Fred Tullar, third base; and Dick Bayless, outfielder.
Sources: The Joplin Globe, “Angling in the Archives” by Charles Gibbons.