JOPLIN MINERS 1950
Here’s another last stop before the show of the great, the consensus best offensive center fielder history. Joplin is 28 miles from Mickey Mantle’s hometown, Commerce, OK and a long way to Yankee Stadium, but a year after Joplin he was in the World Series tripping over an outfield grate, wrecking his right knee and playing the rest of his career with a torn ACL. The Miners had a rich history between 1902 and 1954. In 1910 they were reputed the 66th greatest minor league team of all time. But they’d never seen anything like the “Commerce Comet”. Out of school to the semi-pro Baxter Springs Whiz Kids, signed with Class D Independence Yankees, and then in 1950, at Joplin, he won the batting title, with .383, hit 26 home runs and batted in 136 playing shortstop. It never stopped. With one bum knee he has the highest career OPS+ of any center fielder, the highest stolen base percentage when he retired, has by far the lowest career rate of grounding into double plays of the great center fielders, the highest World Series on-base percentage and slugging percentage; and boy did he have power, especially the tape measure home runs. He is the career leader in walk-off homers, but perhaps his greatest honor is that Topps retired card #7 in its all its baseball sets in tribute. All Navy Wool Cap, White Felt Logo, Leather Sweat Band.