If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out Dave Matter's Kinsler to Crow to Scherzer: Top 10 Mizzou baseball players under Jamieson at StLtoday.com. Most of the top 10 are pretty much no-brainers, so there's not much in his list to argue with. Although I did.
To compile my own list I've followed a different set of criteria:
- Rather than a top-10, this is a position-by-position all-star team.
- It is very much a subjective list, focusing on the players I personally found the most exciting to watch during Jamieson's tenure.
- I've tried to focus on the players' performance while with Mizzou, not on how well they have performed in professional baseball.
1B: #44 Aaron Jaworowski ('95-'97)
Many good players have manned first base for the Tigers, including Cody Ehlers, Aaron Senne, and Zach Lavy, but Aaron Jaworowski gets the nod. Known as "Jaws", he had the sweetest swing of any player I've seen at Simmons Field. At times he could be an all-or-nothing slugger, but man, what a slugger he was. He didn't need the infamous hilltop winds to push his shots over the walls, but many a wind-aided blast went beyond the wall and out of sight. He had a brief career in the Minnesota Twins minor leagues and then with the River City Rascals. Jaws has continued to be involved in youth baseball and softball training in the St. Louis area with Balls N Strikes and the Rawlings Tigers Baseball Club.
2B: #13 Torre Tyson ('95-'98)
Among the many great Tiger second basemen, two stand out in my memory.
Brock Bond was a great player to watch, a bulldog and scrambler who went on to be one of the best Triple-A players to be repeatedly ignored by his major league front office. He'll always be remembered by Mizzou fans for a collision at third base against the son of a Jayhawk head coach that turned into an epic donnybrook.
Torre Tyson gets the nod, though, as the most exciting second baseman I've seen at Mizzou. He was also a bulldog and scrambler, one who ran the basepaths with a crazed passion. He holds the Mizzou career record of 79 stolen bases. Superfan Larry Wyatt always called him "Lucky 13", for his jersey number.
Tyson has been active in baseball since leaving Mizzou, as a minor league coach and scout for the Boras Company. See more about Tyson in my profile of him as a candidate to replace Tim Jamieson.
SS: #25 Ryan Stegall ('99-'01)
Everyone knows about MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler, but as a Tiger he was good but not outstanding. He's one of those rare players who seems to get better as high rises to higher levels of competition. He showed things in the minor leagues beyond what he had done in college, and he has continued to improve during his career in the major leagues.
Tim Jamieson has had many good shortstops. from Kinsler to Gary Arndt to Ryan Howard, but Ryan Stegall stands out among them. He achieved a rarity among Jamieson's players, being successful as both a position player and pitcher. He was the Tigers' closer and shortstop through much of his career. He's still in the Mizzou top 10 for doubles, home runs, extra base hits, and saves in a single season, as well as career home runs, extra base hits, total bases, doubles, slugging %, and saves. His workmanlike approach to his craft made him a strong team leader and has continued to drive him in his career as the head baseball coach at Liberty, MO.
3B: #7 Kyle Mach ('07-'09)
Quite frankly, third base at Simmons Field during Jamieson's tenure has been mostly populated by good hitters who were only adequate fielders. I recall one third baseman who became so known for his fumbles at third that one opposing coach instructed his players to bunt toward third, one batter after another, one error after another, piling up 5 runs by the end of the first inning. Most Mizzou third basemen were not that bad, but I longed to see someone at the hot corner with a golden glove.
Then along came Kyle Mach. If I remember rightly, he began his Tiger career as a middle infielder, but was moved to third because Tim Jamieson needed someone - anyone - to play there. After a brief time of settling in, Kyle became a great fielder at the position. In fact, as I said in February of 2009,
Kyle Mach has become hands-down the best third baseman defensively the Tigers have had at that position during Tim Jamieson's career as head coach.
It must have been a genetic thing, because Kyle's younger brother, Conner, came along next and continued the Mach tradition of good fielding at third.
C: #5 Jon Williams ('98-'01)
I almost had to draw straws to determine my favorite catcher of the Jamieson era. Catcher has always been my favorite position in baseball because they have to be good at so many things. The catcher handles the pitchers, defends home plate, and is expected to keep opposing baserunners from stealing with abandon. He's also expected to be a field general, barking out warnings and directing defense. He has to deal with wild pitches, bunts, and pop flies, he works hard to build a good relationship with the umpire, and he does all of this while squatting for nine innings. All of those characteristics mean the catcher is often an entertaining player to watch. Catchers develop an attitude, one that begins back in the first years of little league. They can be as gruff as a drill sergeant and as volatile and bombastic as a masked lucha libre wrestler.
Nearly every Tiger catcher I've watched has been entertaining. Brad Flanders, Ryan Pickett, Trevor Coleman, big Ben Turner, J.C. Field, Brent Lacy, Dan Pietroburgo, Ryan Ampleman, Brett Nicholas, Nick Schwieder, and Tom Buchman.
If I were putting together the best offensive lineup, I'd probably go with Trevor Coleman or Brett Nicholas.
My personal favorite, though, was Jonny Williams, who had infectious joy for playing the game of baseball. Possessor of a prototypical catcher's spark-plug body, Jonny threw himself into every pitch, every play, and every at-bat with an evident love for the game. He was a student of the game, as many catchers are. His love for the game has continued as he's made his career in baseball. The last I heard he's a scout in the Kansas City Royals organization.
OF: #4 Jayce Tingler ('00-'03), #51 Jacob Priday ('05-'08), #6 Ryan Fry ('95-'98)
The list of great outfielders from the Jamieson era would be quite long. I loved to watch Matt Nivens, Ryan Lollis, and Evan Frey patrol center field. I have vivid memories of great plays by all three of them. James Boone, Hunter Mense, Lee Laskowski, Zane Taylor, and Jonah Schmidt all stepped into the batter's box every time with the potential of changing the game. And then there's J.R. Warner, Trey Harris, and W.T. Hoover, whose energy and enthusiasm always brought a smile to my face.
But the top three, all of whom are also in Dave Matter's Top 10 list, are Tingler, Priday, and Fry.
Jayce Tingler gets the nod as my favorite Tiger. I've detailed my memories of Tingler's career earlier at RockMNation, when he became a coach with the major league Texas Rangers.
One play, repeated over and over again, defined Jayce Tingler's career as a Tiger.
They knew he was going to do it. They even knew he was probably going to do it on the next pitch. Everyone in the park knew it. They all knew it because he'd done it against team after team, with increasing frequency, throughout his career.
Jayce Tingler had both the daring and the honed skill to successfully lay down a bunt in the most non-traditional circumstances: not as a sacrifice to advance a runner, but as a method of getting a hit.
The pitched baseball approaches. He steps toward the ball and starts his dash for first base at the same time. He directs the ball to just the right spot, always in the same few square feet in the no-man's land equally distant from the catcher, the pitcher and the first baseman. The catcher hustles out for it. The pitcher twirls and tries to pounce on it. The first baseman doesn't know whether to go for the ball or protect the base. It doesn't matter. By the time someone - anyone - comes up with the ball and throws toward first, Jayce is already crossing first base. If it's close, he's crossing first in a head-first slide in a cloud of dust.
The home crowd goes wild. The fielders stand there shaking their heads, looking stupid. And the next Tiger hitter approaches the plate with joy, knowing Jayce is on base ahead of him, and that the pitcher will be distracted by having an aggressive and canny base runner taking an absurdly long lead off first.
Jake Priday was a one man wrecking crew at the plate. Pitchers would do everything they could to not face him with runners already on the basepaths. He was one of the two most dominant hitters I've seen on Simmons Field. And he was the star of the most memorable Mizzou game I attended, on April 11, 2008, a night ranked #35 on RockMNation's Mizzou's Greatest series.
By the time the longjohned Longhorns had finished their second inning at bat, the Tiger 9 were down 8-0. I saw a small number of faithless fans head for the exits at that point. Boy, were they going to be sorry.
MU answered back with three runs in the bottom of the 2nd, Texas added a 9th run in the 3rd, and then the slumping Mizzou offense woke up like an angry man whose home has been invaded. Missouri scored 10 runs in the bottom of the 3rd, followed by multiple runs in nearly every inning as the game went along, piling up to a final tally of 31 runs, against the Longhorns' total of 12.
The crowd was absolutely rocking Taylor Stadium as the runs piled up. There's a great photo gallery from that game at the mutigers.com write-up. You might even see me in one of those photos.
RF Jacob Priday led the attack with his own record-breaking performance. Priday was 5-for-5 on the night. He set single-game school records with 4 home runs, 9 RBI and 6 runs scored. The four home runs is the most ever in the Big 12 Conference and is tied for third most in NCAA history. With the four homers, Priday moved within one of the Missouri school record with 44 for his career. The nine RBI give him 218, which was four shy of the Mizzou career mark.
Ryan Fry is the other most dominant hitter to play for Tim Jamieson. Recruited as a pitcher, an injury relegated him to being a position player before his Mizzou career even got off the ground. He played third base and an occasional first, but he was mostly known as an outfielder. Actually, he was mostly known as a hitter.
In 1998, Fry set seven offensive records, including career marks for hits, runs, RBI, extra-base hits and at-bats. His 27 homers during his senior year were good enough for the single-season record. After the 1998 season, Fry was named to the 1st team All Big 12, Dallas Morning News Big 12 Player of the Year, Big 12 All-Academic team, ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division I 3rd team, Collegiate Baseball-Louisville Slugger 3rd team All-America, NCBWA All-American 2nd Team and the 3rd team GTE All-Academic Team. Ryan Fry is one of the best pure hitters to ever wear a Missouri jersey.
RHP Starter: #31 Max Scherzer, (04-'06)
Everyone has heard the tales of Pitcher U. The ability to churn out future major league pitchers will likely be Tim Jamieson's lasting legacy. I won't at all be surprised if his next gig is as a pitching coach with some other tier-1 program.
Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow, and Kyle Gibson stand out above the rest, not only for what they've accomplished since leaving Mizzou, but for the things they did while wearing the black and gold.
Each of them holds a special place in the heart of any follower of Mizzou Baseball during the Jamieson years. Aaron Crow's performance as a freshman in that NCAA Regional and his scoreless innings streak. Gibson showing up as a freshman looking like a pitcher assembled out of toothpicks and growing both physically and mentally into a dominant pitcher.
But Max Scherzer deserves the nod as the best, not only because he's gone on to be a Cy Young winner, but because of his success and his personality as a Mizzou starter.
In his freshman year, Max didn't pitch a lot. He was wild, all arms and legs and no idea where the ball was headed, as the scouts described him. But then he came back for his sophomore and junior campaigns to be one of the top pitchers in college baseball. His devotion to analyzing his mechanics and his intensity on the mound were evident even then.
I'll always remember the Friday night when he completely dominated Texas Tech, but had to be taken out early and forced to share his no-hitter with a reliever. I'll also remember that off the field he was the biggest goofball I'd ever seen, a personality still evident in Max the MLB superstar.
LHP Starter: #24 Nathan Culp, (04-'06)
Nathan Culp, Rick Zagone, and Rob Zastryzny stand out among the many lefties who pitched for Tim Jamieson.
Anyone who ever saw Zagone pitch will never forget that high kick that made him look as much like a Rockette as a pitcher. He was the other freshman who delivered that NCAA Regional double header sweep.
Zastryzny was also a joy to watch pitch. Like Max Scherzer, he had a personality that could intimidate batters and then keep his teammates laughing.
I have to give the nod, though, to Nathan Culp. Laboring in the media shadow of Max Scherzer for much of his career, Culp held his own as part of the Tigers' 1-2 punch. It often seemed that whenever Scherzer was slumping, Culp would be dominant, and vice versa. Culp's intensity matched that of Scherzer, but his came across like hot ice. Tanner Houck's demeanor on the mound often reminds me of Culp.
Closer: #35 Mark Alexander ('01-'04)
It seems to take an off-kilter personality to make a good reliever, and Mizzou has had their share of characters in the bullpen. Mitch Kiler's redneck glare, Jay Bell's mischief, Breckin Williams' full-bore dash to the mound. Mark Alexander stands out them all.
Tim Jamieson had a habit of finding pitchers who were near wash-outs because of injury or ineffectiveness and turning them into effective closers. Alexander saw only intermittent action during his first two years as a Tiger, languishing in the bullpen. He came back to become a dominant closer and workhorse (setting a new Tiger record with 35 appearances). What makes him memorable, though, was his demeanor on the mound. Wearing a flat-billed cap that began pointed somewhat off kilter and becoming more and more slanted as each game went on, Alexander's intensity fired up his teammates and the crowds.
"Everybody in the dugout just kind of rallies behind him when he’s in the game, and we all turn our hats to the side," Broshuis said. "That’s just one of the things he does. He does a lot of odd things to fire the team up, too."
He stomps, screams gibberish and whacks the bench with whatever object is handy. Alexander enters home games to bagpipe music befitting "The Barbarian."
"I didn’t want to ruin bats, so we just found poles or whatever was sitting in the dugout," Alexander said. "Tyler Williams gave me a table leg last week that I ended up carrying around, and I bang that around the dugout and the bench. Anything I can do to make noise and get in the guys’ heads, ‘Hey, we’re behind you.’ That’s what I’m trying to do over there."
Alexander knows by heart the William Wallace speech from his favorite movie, "Braveheart." Alexander admitted that he will do the speech just for fun, but most often, somebody requests it.
"I had to do it a couple weeks ago," Alexander said. "I was visiting my grandma and grandpa up in Kansas City. My grandma’s in the hospital, and my dad is like, ‘Why don’t you bust out the quote.’ So I was sitting there in the hospital, my grandma’s in a wheelchair, and I have to do the whole quote. People are walking by." (Columbia Daily Tribune, June 2. 2004)