Joe Ketchum perhaps didn’t achieve his No.1 goal during 11 years as head baseball coach at Joplin High School.
Ketchum did not direct the Eagles to a Missouri Class 4 championship. But Ketchum accomplished just about everything else.
Consider that those Eagles amassed an overall record of 202-63 against formidable schedules. There were no losing seasons. They won several Ozark Conference and district championships. Joplin twice finished runner-up at state and three times reached the semifinals.
Joe Wesley Ketchum Jr., was born in San Francisco.
“I believe I was 12 when we moved to Joplin (parents Lois Evelyn and Joe have died). Dad at that time was co-owner of Ketchum Painting. My first organized team? I believe it was the nest year — I was 13 — and it was Citizens Bank in Pony League. Bob Sparrow was our coach.”
Ketchum attended Joplin East Junior High School — Harold Thompson was coach — where naturally he began developing friendships that still exist with fellow athletes.
Ketchum, who graduated from JHS in 1967, played under Gary Starr with the Eagles.
He believes Jim Wyatt and Earl Skaggs were his coaches in American Legion baseball. He was an infielder/pitcher.
Kethcum, accompanied by a few chums, opted for Neosho-based Crowder for baseball at the next level. The late Ed Johnson was the Roughriders’ coach.
Former major leaguer Wally Moon wanted Ketchum’s services at John Brown University of Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
“Siloam Springs seemed a thousand miles away,” Kethcum said with a laugh.
Kethcum, following two years at Crowder, played baseball his last year at Missouri Southern. That 1972 campaign under Ed Wuch was the Lions’ first.
The 1972-73 season was the first for Ketchum at Joplin Memorial High School. He eventually moved into the position of head baseball coach after assisting Jerry Chew.
“I believe we had one losing season — the first — in seven or eight years as head coach, “Ketchum said.
Ketchum, who coached American Legion for some 10 years, said he appreciated the support and guidance from the likes of Ted Eberhard, Kermit Luebber, Charley Massey, Ed Patchin and Warren Turner. Throw in a couple of ex-teammates, too, Steve Luebber and Bob Tignor.
Ketchum, starting as a volunteer, coached several years in the USA Junior Baseball Trials that converged on Joplin.
This is the fourth shrine for Ketchum. The Midwest Nationals honored him earlier thisyer. Previously, it was the Missouri High School Baseball coaches Association and Crowder.
Ketchum has two children — C.J. and Kacy. C.J., who played baseball at Crowder and Ole Miss, and wife Brooklyn live in Lowell (Arkansas). Kacy is married to former McAuley Catholic soccer standout Ryan Griesemer, The Griesemers have three children — Madison, 14; Luke, 12, and Roxie, 7.
C.J. took some heat off dad at JHS. His play as a junior helped Eagles win a title in 2001 for Kirk Harryman.
Joe Ketchum and longtime girlfriend Peggy Day live in Neosho.