May 3, 2002
By Rob Coons
MU Media Relations
Missouri will celebrate its 1941-42 back-to-back Big Six Baseball Champions on Saturday as members of the teams hold a reunion at Taylor Stadium/Simmons Field. The teams will be honored in ceremonies before the Tigers take on Oklahoma State in a Big 12 Conference contest at 2 p.m.
During the 1941 and 1942 seasons, the Tigers went a combined 27-5, including a 17-3 league record. The conference championships were the fifth and sixth in Missouri history and the third and fourth under legendary coach John "Hi" Simmons.
Throwing out the first pitch before Saturday's game will be Frank Graham. A native of Fair Grove, Mo., Graham was a senior on the 1942 team. He pitched 31 innings in five games for the Tigers, compiling a 2-2 record. On April 24, 1942, Graham shut out Washington University (Mo.) as the Tigers cruised to a 10-0 win.
During WWII, Graham pitched for the Ft. Benning (Ga.) parachute school team. He pitched in a game against George "Red" Munger, three-time Major League Baseball All-Star and member of the 1946 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Behind Graham's pitching, Ft. Benning won, 3-1.
Ken Quevreaux, the only Tiger to play in every inning of the 1942 season, will catch the ceremonial first pitch. A native of Webster Groves, Mo., he was a junior on the '42 squad, and was elected captain of the 1943 team.
Quevreaux was known both for his bat and his play behind the plate. A press release announcing the opening game of the Tigers' 1942 season said his play "was a big factor in the Missouri pennant victory" the year before. The catcher hit better than .300 during the Tigers' back-to-back championship seasons.
Quevreaux seemed to save his best play for big games. In two games against Kansas in 1942, he hit 5-for-8 and scored three runs. Missouri never lost to Kansas during Quevreaux's four years at the school.
After going 15-2 during the 1941 season, Missouri began 1942 by dropping two of its first four contests. From there, the Tigers won nine straight before losing to a traveling team from Bradley Tech in their next-to-last game.
The most important game for the Tigers in the 1942 season was played May 12 when Missouri hosted Oklahoma, who was undefeated in Big Six play. Torrential rain the day before forced the first game of the series to be cancelled and left the infield at Rollins Field unplayable.
A makeshift infield was set up in the outfield for the second game. Missouri jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but the Sooners rallied to tie the game in the sixth inning. Oklahoma scored once in the top of the 10th inning and had the bases loaded when Quevreaux tossed to Earl Conklin at third to pick-off a baserunner and record the inning's third and final. The out was key as on deck for Oklahoma was Dale Mitchell, who went on to be a two-time Major League All-Star for Cleveland. Oklahoma's baseball stadium is named after Mitchell.
The Tigers plated two runs in the bottom of the 10th to claim an 11-10 victory. MU then swept Iowa State in Ames and beat Kansas at home to post a 7-1 conference record. Oklahoma finished 6-1 in the conference, a half-game behind Missouri.
Missouri has only had one string of consecutive conference championships since the 1941-42 teams. John Simmons' clubs won the 1962 and '63 Big Seven conference titles, as well as the '64 and '65 Big Eight Championships.
The 15-2 (88.2 won/loss percentage) record posted by the 1941 team record ranks as the fourth-best season winning percentage in Missouri baseball history.