Joe Becker Stadium
Review by Mike
They have been playing baseball at Joe Becker Stadium in Joplin, Missouri for a very long time, just not at THIS Joe Becker Stadium. The first ballpark on the site was built in 1913, but it burned down in 1936. The second stadium avoided the flames a little longer, but it also burned down in 1971. A third incarnation did NOT burn down. Instead, it was razed in 2014 and in its place was built the current, hopefully fireproof, Joe Becker Stadium.
Home to the Joplin Miners, a Yankees farm club, from 1917 through 1954, this field has seen many greats pass through, including Mickey Mantle and Whitey Herzog. The rebuild in 2014 was to satisfy the requirements of the incoming independent Joplin Blasters of the American Association, but they barely lasted long enough for the paint to dry. The ballpark currently hosts the Joplin Outlaws of the collegiate summer MINK League.
JBS IV is a handsome structure, intimate and modern. The main structure behind home plate has individual seats, a few suites, and a press box, all under a small roof, that would provide more shade than protection from wet weather. It’s painted a bright, mustard yellow with dark seats, making for an appealing combination.
Fixed seat grandstands run down each lawn, with a small bleacher section extending a little farther towards the left field corner. All of the stands are steeply pitched, making for nice views, unobstructed by any large hats that might be sitting in front of you. The most interesting seats, though, are the three rows that straddle the dugouts in fieldstone “boxes”. These are sunken so low that your feet are actually below field level. Unique, for sure, but I can’t imagine it provides a good view of the action.
The playing surface is a combination of Field Turf on the infield and natural grass in the outfield and it was all very nicely maintained. The dugouts are actually below ground level, something you don’t always see in smaller parks. A large erector set grandstand sits beyond the left field fence, but I imagine that this is just extra seating for football as it is not at all in keeping with the style or quality of the rest of the facility.
It took a few tries, but they have built a nice little ballpark in Joplin, where the next generation of hopefuls can stand in the same batter’s box and roam the same outfield where Mickey Mantle began his journey to the Hall of Fame.