Gaylon Enos was a remarkable all-around athlete Joplin High School and a member of the 1939 state championship basketball team. Gaylon was known for his competitive drive and his ability to key the Joplin offense from a forward position.
Family and friends recall that Gaylon possibly was more outstanding as a baseball player. In fact, he was ready to launch a career in professional baseball when World War II broke out and Gaylon was inducted in the Army. He served a four-year tour of duty and saw action in Europe. When the Korean War broke out, Gaylon was assigned to the U.S. Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he served as director of athletics.
Following his tour of duty in World War II, Gaylon returned to Joplin and went to work with the Tamko Roofing Co., and helped organize the Tamko Roofers, the company’s basketball team. Enos managed the team, scheduling games throughout the Midwest. The team played most of its home games at Memorial Hall in Joplin, but also played in the YMCA Open League which it dominated.
Highlights of Gaylon’s semipro basketball career include: helping the Roofers defeat the Harlem Globetrotters in an exhibition game – the Trotters never played them again- and winning a free-throw shooting contest against a player from the All-American Red heads. Gaylon hit 50 free throws in a row to win that competition.
Prior to moving from Joplin to Denver in the mid 1950’s, Gaylon refereed high school basketball games in southwest Missouri. He would call the captains of both teams to midcourt prior to the game and explain how the game would be called. He took charge at the outset and the games rarely got out of hand.
Gaylon returned to Joplin several times for reunions. The 1939 state champions held a reunion with Coach Jiggs Mikkelson on June 30, 1984. Eight members of the team along with Mikkelson, attended the reunion. The Tamko Roofers held a reunion the next day at Cunningham Park. Gaylon and four other members of the team got together in 1994 for the 55th anniversary of their graduating class.