TAMKO Building Products has always been actively involved in community sports and has sponsored a variety of teams and sporting events. The most notable of the TAMKO teams is the company’s basketball team, the TAMKO Roofers, that competed for five seasons in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The TAMKO Roofers were formed at a time when teams consisting of men from companies and other organizations would compete against each other at the local and national level. This was prior to the formation of the National Basketball Association. The TAMKO Roofers formed in 1947 as part of the YMCA Open League. The TAMKO Roofers soon became the team to beat, and their most memorable game was their victory against the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters.
On January 6, 1948, approximately 850 spectators filled the Memorial Hall in Joplin, Missouri, where the two teams faced off. At the end of a close game, the TAMKO Roofers defeated the Globetrotters in a stunning 34-33 victory.
As reported by the Joplin Globe at the time:
“A free throw by Lester Cooper, who was fouled at the final buzzer, decided the game after a seesaw struggle in which neither team was able to muster a comfortable lead. At one stretch during the second half, the lead changed hands 10 times and once was deadlocked at 33-33. It was at that point that Cooper made good his free shot for the victory.
The contest became rough in the final minutes and at one time seemed almost out of hand, as the players of both sides battled for possession of the ball and for every advantage, and at one stage of the mix-up, Coach Gene Cookerly of the Joplin team appeared ready to pull his quintet from the floor.”
During the team’s five seasons of play, they won 81 out of 92 games, including this momentous victory. In honor of their achievements, the team was inducted into the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
The team dissolved in 1951 after several members went into the military. Though the team played just five seasons, they created a great legacy that TAMKO and the people of Joplin can take pride in.