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Mizzou Baseball: Streaking toward a record?!!

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Bieser’s Bengals are streaking toward an all-time Mizzou Baseball record. But what exactly IS the record?

1964 Missouri Tigers
University of Missouri Savitar

Mizzou Baseball swept the Alabama Crimson Tide this weekend, starting its SEC season in a loud way. No one can say they ain’t played nobody, that they’ve built their 19-game winning streak on the backs of a bunch of patsies. ‘Bama may not be among the best in the SEC this season, but Mizzou still made a statement with this win: We’re coming for you, SEC!

And, they tied a record!! Sammy Sava echoes what Shawn Davis, Tex Little, Matt Michaels, and every reporter and fan in town has been saying for the past week.

Or did they?

Dave Matter, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, stirred up a minor tweet-storm immediately following the game:

So why is it so confusing?

One big reason is that College Baseball, for many decades prior to the 1980s and 1990s, was considered an after-thought by many people. This included many Sport Information Directors, both at schools and at the NCAA. It’s not surprising, then, that the inclusion or exclusion of games in records, yearbooks, and even record books might be less than accurate.

If only we had a time machine and could go back and discover the definitive answer to the definitive question:

What did the people in 1964 think the streak was?

As it turns out, I possess a book that includes photocopied records of the 1962-1965 seasons of Missouri Baseball. I don’t know who put it together, but I know it was put together just a few years ago for a reunion of those teams. A copy was given to me by Coach Gene McArtor, who was a player on some of those teams, and who appears frequently in this book.

Gene McArtor nailed at plate
Columbia Missourian

Coach Mac has been a follower of my Mizzou Baseball blogging for some time, both on the now-retired (but still online) SimmonsField.com and currently at RockMNation.com. And he knew, from my writing, that I am a student of Mizzou Baseball history. This big, unwieldy, and often difficult to decipher book is now a prized possession on my short shelf of Mizzou Baseball memorabilia.

1962-1965 Missouri Baseball reunion book
Trripleplay

The book includes photocopies of Columbia Missourian features and game-day articles, press releases from the University of Missouri Sports News Service, and other features in other publications about those seasons.

Here’s a copy of the 1964 schedule, from the pre-season 1964 Baseball Guide put together by the MU Sports News Service”, directed at the time by Bill Callahan”

1964 Missouri Baseball Schedule
Sports News Service, University of Missouri

Reading through the daily game stories, copied mostly from the Columbia Missourian, I compiled this detail of the 1964 season

The Tigers opened with a road trip through Texas and Oklahoma.

The first game took place at Texas Christian U on March 25th, and indication of just how much College Baseball has changed. By 3/25 in 2017, our Tigers may have already matched the winning streak of 1964.

3/25 W 4-0 over TCU

3/26 L 2-3 to TCU

3/27 L 2-5 to Baylor

3/28 L 1-3 to Baylor

3/30 game at Tulsa cancelled in the 4th inning by rain, sleet and 40 degree temps

3/31 doubleheader

W 10-1 over Tulsa

W 13-1 over Tulsa

4/10 Doubleheader

W 7-2 over Colorado

W 6-2 over Colorado

4/11 W 6-4 over Colorado

4/17 W 2-0 over Iowa State

4/18 DH at Iowa State cancelled die to rain; these games was never made up

4/24 W 7-1 over Kansas State (a 1-hitter, with 17 strikeouts by Jack Stroud)

4/25 Doubleheader

W 2-1 over KSU

W 6-0 over KSU

5/1 Doubleheader

W 4-1 over Oklahoma

W 3-1 over OU

5/2 W 1-0 over OU

5/8 W 11-1 over Oklahoma State. The Missourian headline: Bengals Set Record With 13th Straight Win

5/9 Doubleheader

W 11-0 over OSU

W 11-0 over OSU

Yes, that’s accurate. The Tigers beat the Cowboys twice in one day by the repeated score of 11-0.

5/15 Doubleheader

W 9-0 over Nebraska

W 2-1 over Nebraska

5/16 W 4-2 over NU. The following day’s headline: Missouri Runs Winning Streak to 18

5/19 Doubleheader

W 2-1 over Kansas

W 2-0 over Kansas

5/20 W 4-3 over Kansas. The game story notes this is the Tigers’ 21st consecutive win.

District V Playoff

This is where identifying the record winning streak gets murky. Obviously, the regular season record is 21, not 19 as has been reported.

But the post-season streak is open to interpretation.

Mizzou, having swept the Big 8, was scheduled to play a best 2-of-3 series against SLU for the 5th District Playoff.

The first game was played as scheduled, but with unsatisfactory results. As the 6/1/64 ( a week later) Sports News Service press release puts it:

Missouri and St. Louis U. play their re-scheduled baseball series for Fifth District supremacy here Wednesday and Thursday -- with the winner joining the N.C.A.A.’s field-of-eight at Omaha on June 8.

The teams will meet Wednesday at 3 p.m., and Thursday at 1 p.m., permitting time for a follow-up third contest, if needed. It’s the same plan that prevailed for last week’s rain-spoiled playoff games.

A week ago Ol’ Mizzou barely salvaged a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning -- just ahead of a downpour. Rain on the following day forced a new schedule compatible with the final examinations being held at each school.

Due to continuing atrocious weather, only 1 game was played, with Missouri winning 2-1. With the College World Series schedule bearing down upon them, the powers-that-be declared Mizzou the winner of the series.

The question, then is whether that 1-1 tie marks the end of the winning steak, or, since it resulted in a rain-out, should it count at all.

Considering the plan was to play three games if necessary during the re-scheduled playoff, it would seem to me that everyone at the time considering that initial 6-inning tie a wash in every sense of the word.

In the College World Series, the Tigers won their first game, putting their streak at 23 consecutive victories, if you choose to ignore that 1-1 wash-out.

They lost their 2nd game, but then went on to keep winning all the way to the championship game, which they lost to Minnesota.

W 7-0 Arizona State

L 2-3 USC

W 3-1 Seton Hall

W 4-1 Minnesota

W 2-1 Maine

L 1-5 Minnesota

Conclusions

So, based on the newspaper accounts from 1964, that Tiger team set a record of 21 regular season victories, and, depending on your interpretation of that initial MU-SLU match, 23 victories altogether, including the post-season wins.

There’s more to come on this. Shawn Davis, the current Baseball expert for the 2017 version of the “University of Missouri Sports News Service”, is on the hunt for the truth.

History making season

The real story, though, is that a team that won only 26 games in 2016, is already at 19-1 in 2017, with almost two thirds of the regular season yet to play.

They’re going to be playing Little Rock at Taylor Stadium on Tuesday evening, and then this weekend the ArKansas Razorbacks come to Taylor Stadium for a three-game series (including Arky assistant coach Tony Vitello, a favorite of many for the job now held by Steve Bieser).

If you’re not planning to be there, why not??