|Frank Graham, Mizzou Pitcher, 1940-1942|
Frank Graham, who was a star pitcher for the the Tigers from 1940-1942, including the Big 6 Conference champion teams in '41 and '42, showed up for the game today, and stayed through to the finish. I've only seen the 92 year old former Tiger at the ballpark twice this season, sitting in the reserved season ticket seat he's owned since the stadium was built - Section C, Row 5, Seat 1.
As he was preparing to leave the game with his family, I stopped to say hello, and told him I was beginning to wonder in those late innings whether Tim Jamieson was going to run out of pitchers and would have to call on Mr. Graham to throw an inning or two. He chuckled and said that would have been something. He was obviously pleased to think that anyone even remembered that he was once a member of the Tiger pitching staff.
He stopped with his family at the bust of John "Hi" Simmons, his former coach at MU, and I joined them in taking some photos.
The rest of the game, with the slow, heat-laden early innings, followed by the swirl of wind and temperature change halfway through, and the edge of the seat final innings, was great. Mizzou won the series from Texas in the final Big 12 match-up between MU and UT in any sport in Columbia. The crowd that waited out the heat until the cool front passed through enjoyed the pleasant weather and the exciting game.
You can read about some of those events in the following links. For me, the highlight of the game was my short conversation with a Tiger star from games 72 years past.
♦ Munson lifts Missouri over Texas for final Big 12 home series win (The Maneater)
Locked in a back-and-forth battle Sunday afternoon with the No. 25 Texas Longhorns, the Missouri baseball team found itself approaching extra innings in what would be the final league series Taylor Stadium would host with the Tigers as Big 12 Conference members before being a part of the Southeastern Conference next year.♦ Freshman's sacrifice fly pushes Missouri baseball team past Texas in 11 innings (Columbia Missourian)
Still tied at six in the bottom of the 11th inning, freshman pinch hitter Case Munson stepped to the plate looking to end it.
He did just that with a deep sacrifice fly that sent tagging sophomore Dillon Everett to home plate. The Tigers (25-22, 9-12 Big 12) won the game 7-6, delivering the Longhorns’ second conference series defeat of the season.
After making Munson the starting designated hitter for the three previous games, Missouri coach Tim Jamieson trusted him to come off the bench and find a way to score the runner on third base.♦ Longhorns Lose 5-4 In Game That Encapsulates Season (Burnt Orange Nation, following Saturday's game)
"No fear," Jamieson said of Munson. "That's the big part of it, especially where, if you don't get on, then the whole team feels it. If that's what you're thinking, then you're not going to get it down. He doesn't have any fear."
The walk-off came one pitch after Munson began trotting to first base, thinking he had been walked, only to have a strike called by the home plate umpire.
The Horns scratched and clawed all game but Walsh's 0-4 day, less than stellar starting pitching and imperfect defense ultimately doomed Texas. With the Aggies in very good shape to sweep Texas Tech, the Horns may have to win tomorrow to stay even for second place in the conference. The Ags traveling to Oklahoma State next weekend and Texas may need to win tomorrow and take the Baylor series to keep pace.♦