Friday, July 28, 2006

Deadline extended

The deadline for MUAA members to order a copy of True Sons signed by Norm Stewart has been extended to August 9.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Time is running out . . .

MU Alumni Association members who would like a copy of True Sons signed by Norm Stewart need to order before August 1. A great Christmas gift for the discerning Tiger fan.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Tigers A to Z

After the full-out assault to finish the book (it’s at the printer now, thank you very much), I find myself momentarily mentally drained, spent, creatively bankrupt. But regular readers of this page demand content, and so let’s reach into the vault for something I wrote a couple of years back for Tigerboard. Tweaked ever-so-slightly to bring the previous piece up to date, I give you the tops in Missouri Tigers sports history, from A to Z.

A is for Accomplishment, and it’s also for Alternatives. On one hand, we have Ben Askren, an All-American and absolute animal, the reigning national wrestler of the year and the top mat-man in Tiger history. On the other, we have Al Abram, who led the basketball team in scoring and rebounding in 1959, and led a revolution when he broke the color barrier in Mizzou athletics. Askren and Abram share the A for their historic efforts.

Some killer B’s have buzzed about in black and gold, from John Brown and Phil Bradley to Herb Bunker, Melvin Booker, and Chester Brewer, none of whom rate as our next letter carrier. Who could better Booker, Bunker and Brewer? Tom Botts. In 26 years as head coach, Botts led the track and field and cross country squads to ten conference titles and the 1965 NCAA indoor track and field national championship.

Though shot putter extraordinaire Christian Cantwell could chuck him a country mile, C belongs to Derrick Chievous, who scored 18% more points than any other Tiger hoopster. D, on the other hand, demands no debate. D is simply Devine.

E stands for Everything, which is what George Edwards was to Mizzou over parts of five decades. After playing basketball, football and baseball for the Tigers before World War I, he returned to Columbia in the Roaring Twenties and served at various times over 30-plus years as basketball coach, golf coach, tennis coach, assistant football coach, athletics director, sports information director, and professor and chair of the physical education department. That might be enough to warrant two letters but for the immovable object in the next spot. F is reserved for the father, the founder, the favorite son of Ol’ Mizzou. F is for Faurot.

Bruce Geiger merits consideration for our next letter by virtue of playing on the 1961 Orange Bowl champs, and he gains bonus points for allowing me to marry his daughter. But a major deduction for routinely schooling me on my own pool table opens the door for Mel Gray, Missouri’s all-time G-man, a champion sprinter and brilliant wide receiver who starred for years in the NFL.

For anyone who ever witnessed her fluid, explosive grace, there’s no doubtin’ Mary Houghton, one H of a gymnast. Late 1980’s basketball hero Byron Irvin was cool personified, but nothing’s cooler than Ice – Harry Ice – the 155-pound halfback formerly famous for gaining 240 yards on eight carries against Kansas in 1941, but now known as the preeminent I of the Tigers. Keeping up with the Joneses is a popular pastime, but keeping up with quarterback Corby Jones proved nearly impossible. For leading Mizzou’s late 1990’s football mini-renaissance, Jones earns the J.

K is for Natasha Kaiser, a two-time Olympian and six-time All-American sprinter, while L is a toss-up between Kaiser’s teammate Teri LeBlanc, a record-setting heptathlete-pentathlete-sprinter, and Ed Lampitt. We’ll let them wrestle for it, which gives the decisive edge to Lampitt, the grappler who captained Mizzou’s squad to an undefeated 1968 season and later earned a place in the national Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Though he belongs more to Wisconsin than to us, Walter Meanwell – Missouri’s M – won 94% of his games in two championship seasons as Tiger basketball coach, a brief detour on his way to becoming a charter member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. In Mizzou’s sporting history, N might as well stand for Next-to-Nothing. Not a single N in the MU Hall of Fame, nor among all-conference performers in football or men’s basketball. So let’s celebrate the post-graduate achievement of Martin Nash, whose Tiger career (1938 to 1941) was nice enough, but nothing compared to being a member of 1948’s golden U.S. Olympic basketball team.

O! what a quandary! Onofrio, Olivo and O’Liney are obvious options, but we’ll pick a palindrome and go with Otto – not hard-nosed fullback/linebacker Gus, but hard-throwing, hard-hitting pitcher/DH Dave, an All-America player and scholar in the mid-1980’s. In picking a P, we proffer a preference for Anthony Peeler, a pinpoint passer, prolific pilferer and prodigious point-producer who ranks first, first and third, respectively, in Tiger hoop history in assists, steals and scoring.

In Tiger lore, the letter Q hasn’t given us much quantity or quality, just one substantial Quirk – Ed Quirk, our Q – a bone-crushing fullback whose Missouri career, interrupted by service in World War II, preceded four seasons in the NFL. R, on the other hand, is rife with candidates from Andy Russell to Kareem Rush, but none is as synonymous with past glories as Johnny Roland, the do-anything All-American offensive and defensive back from the 1960’s.

A serious question for John “Hi” Simmons, Bob Simpson, Sparky Stalcup, Bill Stauffer, Bob Steuber, Steve Stipanovich, Anton Stankowski, Dave Silvestri, Willie Smith and Doug Smith: Would it be too much to ask for one of you to change your name to Xavier or Xylophone or Xanax? While S presents the deepest field in this whole shebang, it’s also a no-brainer. Here’s the rule. If you’re an All-American basketball player and a national champion baseball player who returns home to coach the basketball team to a boatload of conference championships over a 32-year run, you make the list. The man with the S on his chest is Norm Stewart.

With apologies to superstar swimmer Susan Tietjen and pigskin pioneer Ed “Brick” Travis, the most prominent T in Tiger history isn’t a person, it’s an idea hatched in the diabolical mind of Don Faurot. Our T, the Split T – unveiled by Faurot in 1941 – introduced the option play and revolutionized college football.

Though golfer Stan Utley was utterly amazing and women’s hoops star Evan Unrau was simply unreal, U is for Ray Uriarte, a first team All-American at third base in 1958. And with mid-term elections looming, let’s acknowledge that V is for Vogt, Paul “Deerfoot” Vogt, the high-jumping, high-scoring center who helped lead Missouri basketball to regional and national prominence at the time of the first World War.

W is a paradox in and of itself. One letter, three syllables. And the choice for W’s letterman is no less paradoxical. Gridiron greats Wehrli and Winslow continue to maintain high fame despite being mere consensus All-Americans, while the clear but hardly obvious choice – 1921 national basketball player of the year George Williams – rests in peaceful obscurity.

If Christmas can be Xmas, our X-man can be Pitchin’ Paul Christman – err, Xman – the golden boy of the first golden age of Mizzou football, and the third-place finisher in the 1939 Heisman Trophy balloting.

Who is Y? In the higher-profile sports, the pickings get slim toward the end of the alphabet, thus giving us opportunity to branch out and recognize someone who gave considerable sweat for comparatively little glory, like Margaret Yanics, who all but owned the volleyball record book at career’s end in 1988.

And zowie, what to do with Z? Zig-zagging Brad Zmith? Zharp-zhooting Jon Zundvold? Just in ze nick of time comes freshman pitcher Rick Zagone, who helped the baseball team advance to this year’s NCAA super regional, and who stands to become ze staff ace next zeason for the Tigers of Ol’ miZZou.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

OT: Oh no he Zididn’t!

As Bill Buckner will testify, legacies can change in a millisecond at fate’s cold caprice. Had Zinedine Zidane’s wicked overtime header in Sunday’s World Cup final sailed just a little to the left or right, it would have skidded past the Italian goalkeeper’s hand and into history. Zizou would have stood as the hero of two World Cups, short-listed for the title of second greatest player ever.

Instead, Buffon’s fist foiled the volley, and minutes later Zidane lowered his stubbly dome and tried to drive Marco Materazzi’s breastbone through his backbone. Now Zidane retires not simply as the player of his generation, but as a much more complicated figure, a great player for sure – World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000 cemented his stature – but also the author of the most famous and infamous moment in soccer’s history (you had a nice run, Hand of God, but it’s over now). No one will ever again think of Zidane without thinking of how he lost his cool and his country lost the Cup.

More than just his personal legacy, I can’t help but wonder what Zidane’s meltdown means for American soccer. I’m no soccer die-hard, but I enjoyed this tournament immensely, and it helped expose curious stateside fans to the international game like no event before (the 2002 Cup’s effect was blunted by its wee hours kickoffs, and 1998 was an eternity ago). A dramatic overtime goal could have provided a breakthrough moment for the beautiful game; instead, potential converts saw an ugly and confusing outburst overshadow the event, the kind of thing you’d expect from a Don King Production, not the globe’s dominant sport. And if fence-sitting fans weren’t won over by the World Cup, they certainly won’t be wowed by the middling MLS (I watched part of the Kansas City-Colorado match on Saturday night, and it was an orgy of ineptitude). When Zidane put his head on the ball in overtime, he had a chance to boost the game in the U.S. But when he stuck it in Materazzi’s chest, he just added to the murky confusion that has enveloped American soccer for so, so long.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Twenty-two Skidoo

It’s funny the things you notice after you’ve looked at something a few hundred times. Over the past few weeks, as I pored over proofs for the book (the last step before printing), one number seemed to jump out of every photo. Though I’ve not been sufficiently motivated to do a thorough comparison to other numerals, the number 22 is almost certainly the most accomplished number in Missouri hoops history. Norm Stewart wore 22 as a player in the mid-1950’s, and it was retired in his honor in 2001. In the interim, a slew of stars and charismatic role players donned the pair of deuces to great effect for Mizzou. They include Win Wilfong (who immediately preceded Stewart), Sonny Siebert, Joe Scott, Ray Bob Carey, Dave Pike, Larry Drew, Steve Dangos, Moon McCrary, Nathan Buntin and Lamont Frazier. An awfully impressive group.

Can anyone come up with a number that tops it? Forty-four might be a good place to start . . .

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mizzou Century: The Complete List

Here it is, the full list. As I look it over, I see some things I might change a little, but nothing drastic. And the precise order was never that important to me (Do I really think that Joe Scott was ever so slightly better than Ron Coleman, but not quite as good as Med Park? No, not exactly). The main thing was to stir up memories of some of the best players from throughout the first century of Missouri basketball, and if in the process, some of you learned about True Sons, well, that’s OK, too (the book is about to go to the printer; it should be available in mid-to-late August). This exercise was great fun for me. I hope you've enjoyed it, too.

1. Steve Stipanovich
2. Doug Smith
3. Willie Smith
4. John Brown
5. Derrick Chievous
6. Anthony Peeler
7. Norm Stewart
8. Jon Sundvold
9. Ricky Frazier
10. George Williams
11. Bill Stauffer
12. Al Eberhard
13. Melvin Booker
14. Kim Anderson
15. Larry Drew
16. Herb Bunker
17. Arthur Johnson
18. Charlie Henke
19. John Lobsiger
20. Arthur “Bun” Browning
21. Craig Ruby
22. Kareem Rush
23. Curtis Berry
24. Thornton Jenkins
25. Dan Pippin
26. Byron Irvin
27. Jevon Crudup
28. Kelly Thames
29. Bob Reiter
30. Don Tomlinson
31. Jim Kennedy
32. Clarence Gilbert
33. Marshall Craig
34. Henry Smith
35. Ray Bob Carey
36. Paul O’Liney
37. Fred Williams
38. Rickey Paulding
39. Med Park
40. Joe Scott
41. Ron Coleman
42. Lee Coward
43. Wendell Baker
44. John Cooper
45. Nathan Buntin
46. Norman Wagner
47. Greg Cavener
48. Lionel Smith
49. Bud Heineman
50. Jeff Strong
51. Malcolm Thomas
52. George “Pidge” Browning
53. Clay Johnson
54. Bob Price
55. Al Abram
56. Blaine Currence
57 & 58. George Flamank & Ned Monsees
59. George Bond
60. Brian Grawer
61. Keyon Dooling
62. Albert White
63 & 64. Mike Sandbothe & Greg Church
65 & 66. Derek Grimm & Jason Sutherland
67. Gene Jones
68. Max Collings
69 – 71. Greg Flaker, Mike Griffin & Mike Jeffries
72. Sonny Siebert
73. Jeff Warren
74. Phil Scott
75. Gary Link
76. Jimmy McKinney
77. Charlie Huhn
78. Lynn Hardy
79 & 80. Denver Miller and Kenneth “Duke” Jorgensen
81. Gary Leonard
82. Lamont Frazier
83. Jesse “Mule” Campbell
84. Mark Dressler
85. Dan Bingenheimer
86 & 87. Marvin “Moon” McCrary and Prince Bridges
88. Ken Doughty
89. Thomas Gardner
90. Carl “Curly” Ristine
91. Julian Winfield
92. Win Wilfong
93. Scott Sims
94. Travon Bryant
95. Clay Cooper
96. Gary Garner
97. Tom Johnson
98. Bill Ross
99. Chris Heller
100. Stan Ray