Sunday, July 1, 2012

Former Tiger Bob Musgrave, 1934-2012

Bob Musgrave
This news comes a couple of weeks after the fact, but Bob Musgrave, who was a key member of the 1954 national champion Tiger Baseball team, passed away this month.  Our prayers go out to his family and friends.

Robert I. Musgrave (Obituary, New Jersey Star Ledger)
Robert I. "Bob" Musgrave, 78, of Hoboken, N.J., passed away at his home on Sunday, June 17, 2012. Bob was born in Columbia, Mo., on Jan. 7, 1934. He grew up in Columbia, Mo., and attended Hickman High, graduating in 1952. He was part of the undefeated 1951 Hickman football team. Bob was honored as a 1952 High School All-American Quarterback. During his college years, in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, Bob was an all-time letterman in football 1953 to 1954 and all-time letterman in baseball 1954 to 1956, and was drafted out of University of Missouri by the Baltimore Orioles in 1956. Bob was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, with the entire University of Missouri Baseball Team that won the College World Series in 1954. The entire Musgrave family was Missouri fans with C.W. Musgrave managing the college bookstore, and Bob's brother, Jim, also graduating from the university with a degree in engineering. Bob's mother, Pearl, also managed the Stephens College bookstore. The Air Force called Bob into service in the fall of 1956, and he served from 1956 to 1961. He was a pilot with the Strategic Air Command. Mr. Musgrave was a journalist by profession. He retired from AT&T after 32 years of employment. Bob was a member of the Elks and also volunteered for various charitable organizations throughout the years. He was predeceased by his parents, Clarence Willis "C.W." and Pearl Marie "Allison" Musgrave, Columbia, Mo.; a sister, Margaret Noel and her husband, Jim; a sister-in-law, Nancy Mount Joy Musgrave, and his only son, Christian Robert Musgrave, Chappaqua, N.Y. Bob is survived by a special friend, Online Bennett, and her daughters, as well as eight grandchildren who adored him; a sister, Eleanor Musgrave Mires, and her husband, Jack, Whittier, Calif., and a brother, James "Jim" R. Musgrave, Westlake, Ohio. He is also survived by his cousins, Nan Olson and Sherri Musgrave; five nieces; three nephews, and a host of great-nieces and nephews. Arrangements are by Failla Memorial Home, 533 Willow Ave., Hoboken, N.J. Interment is planned for a later date in Connecticut at the military cemetery. Memorial services in early August will be announced. Contributions may be made to Hickman High School Athletics Department, designated for the football program; the University of Missouri Athletic Department or a charity of your choice .

Open Series With Huskers Today (Columbia Daily Tribune, Monday May 17, 1954)
The Missouri Tigers neared their second Big Seven baseball championship in three years by downing the second place Oklahoma Sooners, 6-3, Saturday afternoon for a sweep of the two-game series at Rollins field. It was Missouri's seventh straight conference win.

Now the Bengals, who open a two-game set with Nebraska here today, need only two victories in their four remaining contests to clinch at least a tie for the crown. Three wins would sew up the championship, regardless of how the Sooners fare in their last four games.

Iowa State still has an outside chance at the pennant, but the Cyclones would have to sweep their series with both the Sooners and Tigers and Missouri would have to drop one of its games with Nebraska.

Ed Cook was scheduled to pitch for the Tigers against the Cornhuskers today, with either Emil Kammer or Gene Gastineau due to start tomorrow's game.

Saturday the Bengals broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning with a three-run rally capped by Bob Musgrave's home run over the right field fence. The Sooners had tied the score in their half with two unearned runs off Bert Beckmann, who went the distance for Missouri.

Oklahoma scored its first run in the first inning when, with two out, Beckmann walked Joe Snyder and Jim Crabb. Bill Knox then shot a single past third to score Snyder. The Tigers got that one back in their half on walks to Dick Dickinson and Jerry Schoonmaker, Pitcher Mac Sanders' late throw on Todd Sickel's grounder, and Bob Schoonmaker's single off third-baseman Bill Knox' glove.

Missouri took a 3-1 lead in the third. Sickel and Musgrave opened with singles, advanced as Sanders threw out Jerry Schoonmaker, and crossed the plate on George Gleason's line single to left.

Beckmann held the Sooners at bay until the seventh, when the Tiger defense faltered. Orville Rickey reached first base on Sickel's fumble, and after Sanders forced Rickey, Dickinson booted Sterling Jones' grounder. Sickel made a fine stop on Fred Minton's hot smash to force Sanders at third, but Snyder singled to center, scoring Jones. Crabb drew a pass to load the bases and Minton scored when Gleason threw low trying to pick Crabb off first. Knox walked to load the bases again, but Beckmann got Johnny Risinger on a grounder to Buddy Cox.

Dickinson and Sickel quickly atoned for their errors in the Tiger seventh. Dickinson opened with a single to left and scored on Sickel's double to the left field fence. Musgrave then blasted a pitch over the fence in right center for two insurance runs and that was all Beckmann needed.

Looking at who Musgrave styled himself after and remembering that this was 1954 Missouri, his average better have been way up there.

``He was a fellow who had copied Stan Musial's corkscrew batting stance,'' said Bill Callahan, the MU sports information director of that era. Musgrave
patterned himself after the Cardinal great while growing up in Columbia.

``It was complete emulation,'' Musgrave said.

(Columbia Daily Tribune, May 14, 1994)

Musgrave Returns, Columbia Missourian, May 5, 1993:
Bob Musgrave said today's players are similar to those on the 1954 championship team.

As he walked into Simmons Field on April 25, Bob Musgrave looked up at the flagpole and said ``There it is, there's our flag.''

He wasn't a veteran paying homage to Old Glory. Rather, he was a member of the 1954 Missouri baseball team looking at the commemorative flag. That team was the only M.U. one to ever win a national championship.

``We had a great team that year, as a team I think we hit .311. I hit .418 and about five other guys hit over .300,'' Musgrave said. ``But more impressively, we had a team ERA of about 2.30.''

That combination helped Missouri to a 22-4 record, 11-1 in the Big Seven Conference. After losing the first conference game, the Tigers rattled off 11 straight.

Winning the national championship did not come as a total shock to Musgrave and his teammates.

"We came in second place in the state in American Legion baseball and won 17 straight football games at Hickman,'' Musgrave said.``So it was almost like you expected to win. I got to Missouri and I expected us to do well and we did.

"We had some great athletes on that team. Jerry Schoonmaker still holds several records, I'm still fifth in on-base percentage for a season (.526), and our captain Dick Dickenson, Buddy Cox and our two pitchers, Emil Kammer and Ed Cook were all great ballplayers.''

Schoonmaker was named All-American in 1954 and is the only member of that team to see any major league service. He played with the Washington Nationals (who became the Senators in 1957) for parts of 1955 and 1957, compiling a .130 batting average in 50 games and 69 at bats.

Musgrave was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, but never made it to the major leagues.

Although he didn't play in the majors, Musgrave has seen many games in New York where he works in corporate public relations.

Living in New York, Musgrave has found it difficult to keep up with Missouri baseball, usually just getting the score in the paper. But recently, he had a chance to get together with old high school and college teammates, a chance he welcomed.

"I came back last year for my 40th high school reunion,'' Musgrave said. ``My buddy Dick Hazle and I played on the undefeated state champs in 1951. They held a Black and Gold golf tournament, and Dick and I finished something like 6th. But it was a lot of fun, seeing a lot of jocks that I hadn't seen in - my God - 40 years.''

The first game he saw all year proved to be a success, as Jason Meyhoff pitched the Tigers to a 7-6 victory. But while watching, he couldn't help comparing the 1954 team to the current Tigers.

"I know we would throw the ball 90 mph, and not much else has changed in baseball. The players are all the same size we were,'' Musgrave, a right fielder, said. ``I see these guys in the outfield, and I have to think that I could throw that hard, but I still ask myself if I did. I guess at 59 years old, the old arm feels a little different, and you're not all that sure.''

The game may not have changed, and it may not have improved from Missouri's view. No Tiger team has come close to winning a national chammpionship in baseball, a fact that took a while to sink in for Musgrave.

"When you're playing in high school and college, you don't realize what you did,'' he said. ``We had an awful good team, certainly, and now it's been 39 years and suddenly no one has even come close, you say, `whoa, that's an awesome accomplishment,' and obviously history has proven that."

"We were having fun and nobody ever got serious," outfielder Bob Musgrave recalled. "I would occasionally sing Lefty Friesell songs out in right field, and more than once I probably gave 'Hi' an ulcer or two. I was a little bit of a rebel or an iconoclast, but only because I was having fun and life at that time was kind of an experiment where you make the best of it." (Columbia Missourian, December 31, 1999)

''I'm sure we drove Hi nuts,'' Kammer said. ''Bob, he was always doing something, just goofing off. He was the wild guy of the bunch. He didn't like a bat we had so he went to a dimestore and bought a 98-cent bat. Biggest damn thing you ever saw, but he could hit with anything.'' (Columbia Missourian, March 13, 1994)

Musgrave Antics (Columbia Daily Tribune May 14, 1994)
Outside the batter's box, Musgrave was an original.

"Bob was the real character of the whole ballclub,'' shortstop and team captain Dick Dickinson said.

Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart, a sophomore pitcher in 1954, said the team had an air of Gashouse Gang about it.

"There's no comparison in talent, but the attitude's the thing,'' Stewart said. ``It was a loose group.''

He recalls Musgrave singing country songs and walking on his hands in the outfield. One time at Colorado, Stewart said, Musgrave did both - hand- walking while singing Hank Snow's ``It Don't Hurt Anymore.'' Then there was the ``imaginary focusing of the eyes.'' He remembers Musgrave swinging and
missing, then leaning out of the box and looking toward the bench while making a turning motion with his hand next to his eye. Then he hit the next pitch way out of the park.

"When you're 19 or however old I was, you just have that sort of carefree insouciance as the French say,'' said Musgrave, now retired from a public relations career in White Plains, N.Y.

``I was pretty serious, but at the same time I enjoyed having a good time,'' Musgrave said. ``You have a little bit of ham in you when you're young.

``I had a pretty good audience.''

Simmons was the one critic whose opinion mattered.

``Occasionally I would see him roll his eyes as if, `Oh, my God, what's he
doing now?' '' Musgrave said. ``I kind of knew how far I could go, because Hi
was a pretty tough cookie.''

Simmons gives them thumbs up for attitude. ``They had a lot of fun, but when the game started they were all business.''

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