1950s Tigers analyze Missouri baseball’s woes

The 1954 national championship baseball team was Missouri’s first national championship in any sport.

Missouri wore throwback uniforms during its Saturday game against No. 9 Vanderbilt, a nod to the 60th anniversary of the 1954 national champion Tiger baseball team, the first national champion in any sport at Mizzou.

Though the design of the uniforms was similar, much was different from the time the garments were alluding to. The Tigers’ baseball stadium is nicer now, and they’re in the Southeastern Conference.

And as the 5-1 loss to the Commodores — Missouri’s eighth straight SEC loss — proved, Mizzou isn’t as good as it was in its heyday.

Tiger baseball players of the 1950s acknowledged the issue, and were quick to say it could be solved.

“I don’t know why they couldn’t (compete in the SEC),” said Ralph Hochgrebe, a member of the 1958 national runner-up Tigers squad.

Hochgrebe’s teammate from the 1958 team, Bob Meyers, gave his opinion with an air of frustration, as though he didn’t want to badmouth the program with which he’d come within a game of a national championship.

It’s not all bad from Meyers’ perspective. He was impressed by Missouri’s new baseball facility, which includes batting cages, a theater and offices.

“Go in there,” Meyers said to a member of the 1954 team. “Have you been in there? You seen anything like that? That’s better than the Cardinals.”

That thought was echoed by James Doerr, a leftfielder on the national championship team.

“Truly amazing compared to what we had … The outdoor track (of the field) was the street,” Doerr said. “It doesn’t compare. This is heaven compared to what we had.”

Still, Missouri plays baseball outside, and Doerr said he thought weather was an obstacle for the Tigers when it came to recruiting.

“You got a hard sell when you compare playing here and going to Arizona State, South Carolina, Alabama, someplace like LSU,” Doerr said.

For warmth, the Tigers could wear jerseys similar to the ones the 1954 Tigers wore. Doerr picked up the replica of his old No. 7 jersey, presented to him before the game to commemorate the national champions.

“I think ours were wool,” Doerr said. “They were pretty hot. It was a different world.”

The jersey, like the current state of Missouri baseball, is different than it used to be.

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