Looking Back With Guest Sports Reporter Tim Komer


Looking Back:
A 1950 True Mystery!

Where do things go? Why can’t we find small things; like socks in the dryer, or car keys by the front door? Heck, why can’t we find the big or important things? Such as, what happened to the family Bible, where is that precious picture of your parents, or that childhood baseball glove (me); you know, things that can not be replaced.
I have written about the 1950 CHS basketball team several times, but now there is a real mystery associated with the team. The following was brought to my attention a week ago, so let me share it.
In 1950, the Clinton Cardinals had maybe the best CHS basketball team ever, or at least the only one to place at the state tournament.
In postseason play, the Cards beat Lee's Summit, Wentworth, Liberty, St. Joseph and Sedalia to get to the state semifinals vs Joplin. Joplin came out on top, but the Cards came back and got third by beating St. Louis University High School, 52-50. It was a thrilling game with the Cards winning in the closing seconds. That year, the fighting Cardinals also won the CMSU Tourney and the Clinton Invitational Tourney by beating Warrensburg, North KC and Maryville. The Cardinals were also conference champs. Their season record ended up being 25-2. The varsity players were Don Snyder (1st team All-State), “Toody” Bath (2nd team All-State), Jim Fithian, Bob Shoemaker, James Thompson, Jimmie Price, George Cunningham, Bob McFarland, Shelby Felhauer, Melvin Stone and Bill Kimmel. This outstanding group of young men was coached by Orval Johnson.
Why am I reminding you of this? Simply put, the State 3rd place trophy is missing. That’s right, the large trophy can not be found.
Liz Rotert, the daughter of Don Synder, was at Clinton High School in 2021 to update the Don Snyder Scholarship plaque. The plaque was getting full. (The family has been awarding the scholarship to deserving CHS seniors since 2007.) Seniors that are heading to UCM are eligible. I am proud to say that my son, Marty, got the Don Snyder Scholarship in 2013. While visiting the high school, Don and Liz were helped by Elaine Mifflin, the Counseling Secretary (since retired). They also visited with Superintendent Destry Brown and other staff members. It was a pleasant visit.
While at the school, Liz and Don thought it would be fun to see the State 3rd place trophy that was won in 1950. Superintendent Dr. Brown and Mrs. Mifflin were nice and brought them to the trophy case across from the gym, but to everybody’s surprise, it was not there. The hunt was on. Several other places were explored. No luck. Several Cardinals, young and old were contacted. No luck. The family tried the Henry County Museum, no luck. So the hunt continues. Most of the 1950 players have passed on, sadly Don died on Nov. 29, 2022. Don was so fond of his old teammates that he made everyone honorary pallbearers.
It was thought that one of the readers of the weekly “Looking Back” articles in the Democrat might be able to help. Maybe they can give the families of the 1950 players a clue or point them in the right direction, and solve this mystery of “Where is It?" Is this large trophy collecting dust in someone’s attic? Could someone have it and not even know it? Maybe it is on display elsewhere, or maybe it is in proper storage. Surely nobody threw it away.
It is not unusual for organizations to lose track of their history. I went to Calhoun S.D. two years ago to get pictures of their many trophies, some at the state level. Even with help, I found very few. Things happen, schools are renovated, fires, new staff, or new schools are built. When I was a school principal, I always reminded teachers right before the summer break to box up their stuff and put their name and room number on the boxes. My daughter, Rebekah, recently did this in her classroom. Things get moved, stored, and sometimes lost. More than once I heard in the fall, “I can’t find my XYZ.”
With that said, one would still like to think, a big state trophy (the highest basketball trophy the Cardinals have ever captured) would be findable.
Yes, I have thrown away small personal trophies before, but I always kept the biggies. Liz, her family, myself, and everybody that cares about CHS Cardinals history, is asking for your help. Ask a friend, check your attic, and let us know.
Where is that 1950 3rd-place state trophy?
Until next time.