Sunday, November 18, 2012

SEC Fan's Guide to Mizzou Baseball: Simmons Field Weather


Yes, Missouri is now the northernmost and coldest location in SEC Baseball.

Taylor Stadium @ Simmons Field has a unique quality somewhat like entering the Bermuda Triangle of Weather.  Everyone who has been to many games there will tell you the same thing.  Whatever the temperature is in Columbia - in fact, whatever the temperature is in Taylor Stadium parking lot - when you walk up the steps to the grandstand and enter the interior of the ballpark, you can feel the temperature drop 5-10 degrees.

From our perspective, the potential for cold and harsh weather in March and April isn't grounds for excuse making.  It's an opportunity for home field advantage.  If we wanted to use the cold weather as an excuse, we'd have moved to the B1G Ten, like Nebraska.




Those of us who have been coming to Mizzou Baseball games for a long time take a perverse pleasure and pride in the conditions we have endured for the sake of the game.  Some of my most cherished memories at Simmons Field are related to the weather.
  • Before the new Taylor Stadium was built up around Simmons Field, the winds roaring up The Summit out of Reactor Field could be quite fierce.  I'm not exaggerating when I say I have had to hold on tight to the bleacher seats in order to keep from getting blown into the next few rows (and if you've seen me, you'll know I come equipped with plenty of natural ballast). I was on hand for the wild game in April of 1996 at Simmons Field that finished with Mizzou defeating the Cowboys 24-23, the lead see-sawing back forth as the gale force winds took many balls over the fences.

  • I once watched the better part of a game from beneath the grand stand bleachers with MU catcher Jon Williams' dad, seeking what protection we could from the light rain that continued through much of the contest.

  • I recall showing up for a freezing Saturday double header against Oklahoma in the late 90's armed with a tarp and bungee cords.  I built myself a little tent in the upper corner of the grandstand and watched the games through a small opening.

  • From 2003 through 2005 the annual March home stand was scheduled to begin with a 3-game set against the Youngstown State Penguins.  Every year, the aptly named Penguins would bring snow and sleet and frigid temperatures to Columbia with them, delaying, postponing and cancelling games.  Finally the Tigers stopped inviting them.  The photos above are from one of those MU-YSU snow-delays.

  • Perhaps my favorite weather-related story is from April 7, 2001 (I remember the exact date of that Friday night game because it was on my wife's birthday; I was at the game while she had a girls' night out, a mutually beneficial arrangement we have followed on many April 7ths since then).  The Pepperdine Waves from sunny Malibu were in Columbia for a weekend series.  This was the team that included future major league pitchers Dan Haren and Noah Lowry.  The weather was cool at game time and got worse from that point on.  During the nine-inning game players and fans alike experienced rain, sleet and snow along with steadily dropping temperatures and steady winds.  The Beach Boys from Malibu had one of those jet-engine style blast heaters in their dugout, but they were still shivering and grumbling.  We fans, of course, had come dressed sensibly in a couple dozen layers of clothing, and we thoroughly enjoyed heckling the frozen Waves.  the Tigers won that game 9-5 and came back on Saturday to win 13-4.
Actually, the most extreme weather the Baseball Tigers have endured has been at places other than their home turf.  I can remember twice when a game has been interrupted by tornadoes touching down in very near proximity to the ballpark . . . in O'Fallon, MO (near St. Louis) and in Norman , Oklahoma this past season.  I'm told the heat in Arizona's new stadium at the 2012 Tucson Regional was more daunting than any adverse conditions at Taylor Stadium.  And for several consecutive years the Tigers began their season playing a tournaments in the minor league complexes in Arizona only to lose games to torrential rainfall in one of the driest states in the nation.

One of the most common comments I've heard about the difficulties Mizzou Baseball will face in the SEC is that they will be the only cold-weather school in a warm-weather conference.

Missouri certainly will be the northernmost school in the SEC.  The stats below demonstrate that the difference is not as large as it might seem, though, between Columbia, MO, and Lexington, Fayetteville, Knoxville and Nashville.

The information below demonstrates that while Columbia, MO is, on average, the coolest SEC location in the SEC during the college baseball season, there are other schools that are not much better off.  Then again, the next two coolest SEC towns are the site of perpetual SEC Baseball cellar dwellers Kentucky and Tennessee.

An alternate way of looking at these numbers, though, is that Mizzou recruits can be guaranteed to play a large number of their conference games at warm-weather sites.  And recruits from Mizzou's most fertile recruiting areas (Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Chicago area) may actually prefer to play in what they will see as moderate Missouri rather than down in teh Sun Belt.

Each school is listed below with their hometown and the Average HIGH, Average LOW and Average precipitation during the months of the college baseball season.  Also I've calculated an average of those Highs and Lows.  Obviously this is not a true average temperature during those four months, but serves us as a simple number for comparison.   Schools are listed from warmest to coolest.  Source: Weather.com

Florida (Gainesville, FL)
February: 70 HI / 40 LO / 3.32"
March: 75 HI / 50 LO / 4.33"
April: 80 HI / 55 LO / 2.67"
May: 87 HI / 62 LO / 2.48"
Season: 78 HI / 52 LO
Texas A&M (College Station, TX)
February: 65 HI / 45 LO / 2.95"
March: 72 HI / 51 LO / 3.17"
April: 79 HI / 58 LO / 2.66"
May: 86 HI / 67 LO / 4.33"
Season: 75 HI / 55 LO
Louisiana State (Baton Rouge, LA)
February: 65 HI / 43 LO / 5.44"
March: 72 HI / 49 LO / 4.33"
April: 78 HI / 56 LO / 4.26"
May: 85 HI / 65 LO / 4.70"
Season: 75 HI / 53 LO
South Carolina (Columbia, SC)
February: 63 HI / 41 LO / .391"
March: 71 HI / 47 LO / 4.21"
April: 80 HI / 54 LO / 2.66"
May: 87 HI / 63 LO / 3.00"
Season: 75 HI / 51 LO
Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
February: 59 HI / 36 LO / 5.06"
March: 66 HI / 43 LO / 6.49"
April: 74 HI / 49 LO / 4.96"
May: 81 HI / 58 LO /4.54"
Season: 70 HI / 46 LO
Georgia (Athens, GA)
February: 58 HI / 36 LO / 4.54"
March: 66 HI / 43 LO / 4.43"
April: 74 HI / 49 LO / 3.15"
May: 82 HI / 58 LO / 3.00"
Season: 70 HI / 46 LO
Mississippi State (Starkville, MS)
February: 58 HI / 34 LO / 5.91"
March: 66 HI / 41 LO / 4.85"
April: 74 HI / 50 LO / 4.94"
May: 82 HI / 59 LO / 4.58"
Season: 70 HI / 46 LO
Auburn (Auburn, AL)
February: 59 HI / 35 LO / 5.51"
March: 67 HI / 41 LO / 6.23"
April: 74 HI / 47 LO / 4.30"
May: 81 HI / 57 LO / 3.38"
Season: 70 HI / 45 LO
Ole Miss (Oxford, MS)
February: 56 HI / 33 LO / 5.54"
March: 65 HI / 40 LO / 4.99"
April: 74 HI / 48 LO / 5.40"
May: 81 HI / 59 LO / 6.00"
Season: 69 HI / 45 LO
Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN)
February: 52 HI / 32 LO / 4.08"
March: 61 HI / 39 LO / 4.11"
April: 71 HI / 48 LO / 4.00"
May: 78 HI / 57 LO / 5.50"
Season: 65 HI / 44 LO
Tennessee ( Knoxville, TN)
February: 52 HI / 30 LO / 4.80"
March: 61 HI / 36 LO / 4.54"
April: 70 HI / 44 LO / 4.31"
May: 78 HI / 53 LO / 4.80"
Season  : 65 HI / 41 LO
♦ Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
February: 51 HI / 30 LO / 2.49"
March: 59 HI / 38 LO / 4.02"
April: 69 HI / 47 LO / 4.30"
May: 76 HI / 56 LO / 5.20"
Season: 64 HI / 43 LO<
Kentucky (Lexington, KY)
February: 46 HI / 28 LO / 3.51"
March: 55 HI / 36 LO / 4.07"
April: 66 HI / 45 LO / 3.60"
May: 74 HI / 54 LO / 5.26"
Season: 60 HI / 41 LO
Mizzou (Columbia, MO)
February: 44 HI / 25 LO / 2.34"
March: 55 HI / 34 LO / 2.91"
April: 66 HI / 44 LO / 4.49"
May: 75 HI / 54 LO / 4.98"
Season: 60 HI / 39 LO

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