The University of Missouri Athletic Department has announced plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 MU Baseball Championship Season, and the festivities promise to be the most spectacular ever put on at old Mizzou. In the past the Athletic Department has been subdued in its promotion of the Tiger Baseball program, but the opportunity to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of only two national championships ever won by a Missouri Tiger athletic team has prompted the powers-that-be to pull out all the stops in their efforts to stage a season-long extravaganza.
Championship Season Banquet The official festivities will begin on February 7th with the Championship Season Banquet, which will honor the 2004 squad as they prepare to begin their season the following weekend in Arizona. The Banquet will also honor the 1954 Championship team in a big way. All the surviving members of the '54 squad will be invited to attend so they can be recognized and honored.
Anyone purchasing a ticket to the Championship Season Banquet will receive a free pass to the Men's Basketball game vs. the Colorado Buffaloes on February 10th, in an attempt to encourage Mizzou's legion of baseball fans to sample some of MU's less popular sporting events.
Championship Season Parade & Fan Fest Nearly three weeks later, on February 27th, a magnificent parade will wind through the streets of Downtown Columbia (aka The District) and the MU campus, ending at Simmons Field. The Championship Season Parade will be led by Grand Marshall Gene McArtor, former MU Baseball Head Coach.
Also featured in the parade will be former Mizzou student Brad Pitt, who has been invited so the University can thank him in a big way for his generous 50 million dollar donation to the MU Baseball program. Reportedly, Pitt's wife, Jennifer Aniston, will also be accompanying him in the parade, along with her co-stars from the hit TV series Friends.
Then on Saturday, both before and after the scheduled 2:00 PM game against Youngstown State, the Hearnes Multipurpose Building Field House will be rocking with the Championship Season Fan Fest.
The Fan Fest will include games, baseball skills clinics, interactive baseball simulations and an autograph booth (manned by current and former MU baseball players, Brad Pitt and the cast of Friends, and rock star Sheryl Crow). Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston will also be hosting a fund-raising kissing booth, along with the Friends cast and selected Mizzou athletes of both genders.
That evening a free concert will be held in the main Hearnes auditorium featuring MU alum Sheryl Crow (opening act: a reunion of the former MU baseball "house-band", Squeeze Play). KTGR radio (ESPN 1580) will be broadcasting live from the parade and from the Fan Fest, featuring the voice of the Tigers, Tex Little, plus special guest commenator Larry "SuperFan" Wyatt II, former award-winning KTGR personality and Central Methodist College graduate.
Season-long Celebration There will be more celebrations and commemorations during the 2004 baseball season, including live re-enactments of key plays from 1954 Mizzou games, on the 50th anniversary of the original games. These re-enactments, planned and staged as a cooperative effort by the MU Drama department and the Athletic Department, will take place before games and during inning-breaks.
In addition, MU Baseball encourages all fans to keep up with the sports-page-style re-creation of the entire 1954 Championship Season on a day-by-day basis as featured online at SimmonsField.com. Play close attention and read every word, because a Championship Season Trivia contest will be held at each home game, featuring questions about the '54 Tigers. Local merchants are sponsoring fantastic prizes for the winners of these contests. (The webmaster of SimmonsField.com will, of course, be ineligible to participate in the trivia contest).
On June 11 through the 16th, each game of the 1954 Tigers' march through the '54 College World Series will be re-enacted at Simmons Field, 50 years from the exact day and time of the original. This event is tentative, of course, since the 2004 CWS Super Regionals are scheduled during those same dates, and we all anticipate there will be a conflict between the Championship Season re-enactments and the 2004 Tigers' continued involvement in their own tournament. The re-entactment would obviously be rescheduled if such a conflict materializes. The Athletic Department also hints that they may have more ideas yet unannounced, so watch SimmonsField.com for any further announcements.
April Fool!?!? OK, so it isn't April, but perhaps not everything in the article at left is true. Maybe even none of it is true - except for the fact that 2004 is the anniversary of the 1954 Missouri Tiger Baseball team that won one of only two national championships ever earned by any MU athletic teams.
What's also true is that there ought to be some pretty fantastic festivities and celebrations this season.
Here at SimmonsField.com, we're doing our best to commemorate and celebrate the Championship Season, not the least of which by re-creating the entire season from newspapers and accounts of the time.
I'm sure the MU Athletic Department does have their own plans for the commemoration and celebration - perhaps not quite as spectacular as the ones that sprung my imagination. I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us this season.