Joplin High School’s baseball program was only four years old in 1955, but the Eagles won seven straight games in the playoffs to capture the state championship.
Joplin, coached by Gordon Long, finished 15-1 that season. Joplin breezed through sub-district, district and sectional play. The Eagles whipped Noel 19-2 behind right-hander Leo Riggs and topped Seneca 9-1 in the South sub-district tourney.
Left-hander Bob Stinson, who finished the year 8-0, beat Seneca. Jim Hunt had a pair of doubles and two RBI and Charley (Chigger) Gnadt stroked two singles to lead the Joplin attack.
Joplin then disposed of North sub-district winner Crane 12-1 for the district title. Lawrence Richardson, a senior right-hander, scattered six hits, walked one and struck out seven to claim the pitching victory. Joplin had only six hits, but parlayed seven walks and six Crane errors into the lop-sided victory. The Eagles then advanced to the sectional round and disposed of Bronaugh 20-0 in five innings.
Joplin survived a scare in the opening round of the state tournament, turning back St. Louis Ferguson 2-1 behind the two-hit pitching of Stinson. Hunt and Garry Smith had run-scoring hits for Joplin. Gnadt and Mike Cusack had two hits apiece.
St. Louis Mercy High School was next for the Eagles. With Richardson scattering eight hits and fanning five, the Eagles rolled to a 12-4 victory. Hunt drilled a double and triple and drove in five runs. Bob Walker had three hits and two RBI; Gnadt had two hits, and Cusack drove in two runs.
St. Louis McKinley advanced to meet Joplin in the championship game. Stinson, coming back on one day’s rest, pitched the Eagles to a 5-2 victory. He allowed seven hits apiece and Walker, Don Rutherford, and Hunt had RBI for Joplin which capitalized on four McKinley errors.
Joplin’s only blemish during its championship season was a 9-8 loss to Springfield central .