Hard to believe that it's already this time of year, but...Mizzou Baseball's 2009 season starts tomorrow! In preparation for the first pitch (8pm tomorrow...follow along at KTGR), we will take a two-part look at the 2009 Tigers. Today, we'll focus on Tim Jamieson, the man in charge of the program; tomorrow we'll look at the guys on the field with a little help from a friend.
Great picture from a great StL Post-Dispatch article
The Man in Charge
Think longevity and loyalty are things of the past? Tell that to Tim Jamieson, who leads his fifteenth Tiger squad onto the field tomorrow night. Jamieson's career at Mizzou can really be broken into three periods.
Period 1 (1995-99) saw Mizzou quickly bounce back from Gene McArtor's retirement. After a 19-34 transition season in 1995, Mizzou came out of nowhere to win the 1996 Big 8 title, breaking the long OU and OSU stranglehold on the conference. Mizzou's 39 wins in 1996 were followed up with 36 in 1998 and 37 in 1999.
Period 2 (2000-02), well, almost saw Jamieson get canned. Recruiting slipped, and Mizzou's win total went from 37 in 1999 to 33 in 2000, to 31 in 2001, and finally to 24 in 2002. Rumor has it, it took some lobbying from Gene McArtor to prevent Mike Alden from dismissing Jamieson in 2002.
Period 3 (2003-present) is, quite simply, the renaissance. Jamieson and his squad rebounded from near-career death to win 36 games in 2003, making the NCAA Regionals and losing a heartbreaker to #2 seed North Carolina in 11 innings in the first game. Mizzou won another 35 games in 2004 and ended up in the Fayetteville Regional. In 2005 came a breakthrough. Mizzou hit 40 wins for the first time since 1991 and qualified for their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, but the season ended in a heartbreaker--Mizzou lost 8-6 to CS-Fullerton after giving up three runs in the top of the ninth and loading the bases and not scoring in the bottom of the ninth.
In the middle of 2006, a season that had begun with high hopes, Mizzou was on life support. A rather successful non-conference start to the season (which included a win over #1 Florida) started to unravel when stud pitcher Max Scherzer got hurt and Mizzou lost 10 of 11 games in early April. Mizzou went from trying to break into baseball's upper echelon to simply trying to make their fourth straight NCAA Tournament. A late-season home sweep of Texas and two wins at the Big 12 Tournament got them in by the skin of their teeth--they were a #4 seed in the Malibu Regional. After ace Scherzer lost the regional opener to home Pepperdine, Mizzou simply ripped off four straight wins, getting magnificent performances from freshman pitchers Rick Zagone and Aaron Crow and gutting out an 8-3 victory over Pepperdine with a makeshift pitching staff in the regional final. Mizzou was thumped by CS-Fullerton in the Super Regional, but it couldn't overshadow the fact that, after major mid-season tribulation, Mizzou had broken through to the next level of NCAA success.
Mizzou followed up the excitement of the 2006 run by ripping off an incredible 42 wins in 2007 and hosting its first ever NCAA Regional. Mizzou was solid in all facets of the game that year, but the most notable aspect of '07 was the crowd of 3,632 fans who more than packed Taylor Stadium to watch Mizzou beat Louisville, 7-5, in the regional's Saturday night game. Louisville came back to upset MU and plow through Oklahoma State in the Super Regional on the way to a cinderella run to Omaha, and while that was extremely disappointing, the fact remained that Mizzou, in making a fifth straight NCAA tournament and basically getting better each season, had arrived as a national program.
2008 was another solid year--Mizzou won 13 straight games in March, and after a small April slump, won 8 of 10 games to finish the regular season and earned a 2-seed in the Miami Regional, where they lost a major heartbreaker to the #1 'Canes and finished the season at 38 wins.
"Period 3" has been very kind to Mizzou and Tim Jamieson--Mike Alden's patience has paid off with not only more Mizzou wins, but higher visibility in the form of two first-round draft picks in three years--Max Scherzer in 2006 and Aaron Crow in 2008. It appears that scouts really like 2009 ace Kyle Gibson as well, and he could become Mizzou's third first-rounder in four years (with Nick Tepesch possibly following in 2010). On top of that, former Mizzou infielder Ian Kinsler has made a name for himself with the Texas Rangers, becoming one of the AL's best second-basemen, while other former Tigers like Scherzer and Doug Mathis have shot through the minors as well. Success breeds more success, and Mizzou continues to find themselves in an upward trajectory.
Jamieson has survived a down period, and not only is he now known for being one of the classiest guys in college sports--he's also known for being one of the best coaches in the country.
The Mutigers.com Preview
Can't wait until tomorrow to read about the product on the field? Check out Mutigers.com's lovely 5-part season preview.