Mural Celebrates Joplin’s Ties to Baseball

A group of art students created a mural celebrating the history of baseball in Joplin, which was unveiled before the Joplin Blasters’ final game of the season on Aug. 30.

The idea for the three-panel, 8-by-16-foot mural – which depicts Joe Becker and Mickey Mantle – originated with Leadership Joplin, a program of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Missouri Southern’s Focal Point student art organization was asked to create it.

“The idea was to represent the history of Joe Becker Stadium and the history of Joplin as well,” said Burt Bucher, associate professor of art. “The students designed it. They went through six or seven design ideas and Leadership Joplin voted for the one they liked.”

Becker was a professional umpire and scout who served as business manager for the Joplin Miners minor league baseball team from 1936-42, and later as a pitching coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Mantle played for the Miners in 1950 on his way up to Major League Baseball and a successful 17 years with the New York Yankees.

“The idea kept evolving over a period of several weeks,” said Lydia Humphreys, a sophomore art major who served as one of the lead designers. “Leadership Joplin liked this one, but they wanted to incorporate Route 66 and we also added the Joplin skyline.”