JOPLIN’S NEW BALL TEAM HAS SPRINGFIELD CARDINALS CONNECTIONS

By Joseph Johnson

A group of Texans riding into town and asking for $4million should have been our first warning. But the talk of spending $5+million to build an entry plaza into Joe Becker Stadium, as well as restaurants, loft apartments and parking lots, well…how could we resist.

AND…we get our “own” baseball team.

That is, our “own” Independent Professional Baseball Team. And it will only cost the taxpayers $4million dollars…so far. Hey, at least Joe Becker Stadium will look nice for…who knows what the future holds.

That was the deal struck between the city council and WLD Suarez LLC of Texas. This is the group represented by Oscar Suarez, a “professional baseball agent”; his son Shawn Suarez, who has “worked” in minor league baseball; and Michael Ware, a real estate developer from Austin, Texas.

This much we know for sure.

Oh, and the name of the team will be the Joplin Blasters. Now I will be honest and admit that I am not a huge baseball fan, but I thought we had a team called the Joplin Outlaws already; which in my opinion is a much cooler name than The Blasters. Maybe the Outlaws are not professional enough. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that the team we are getting was formerly called the El Paso Diablos. The Diablos have been around in some form or another for many years. In 2004, the team was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals for $9.8million; pretty close to the sum being invested to bring them to Joplin. Before long, the team moved to Springfield, MO to become the Springfield Cardinals.

In 2005 however, a man by the name of Mark Schuster gave new life to the El Paso Diablos by way of a franchise being granted by the Central Baseball League. Then in 2011, following another disappointing season; Schuster sold the team to the Native American Tigua Tribe.

The Diablos played their last game in August 2013 at El Paso’s Cohen Stadium. Soon thereafter, the city of El Paso was wondering what to do with the now useless stadium. The Diablo’s replacement, the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Pacific Coast league will be playing in a new stadium built in downtown El Paso.

So far, there is no news regarding the empty Cohen Stadium.

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