Looking for your Baum memories

What are your favorite memories from Baum-Walker Stadium? Best games, moments, performances, etc.?

We obviously all remember the Brady Toops grand slam, the James McCann walk-off, the 3 a.m. game vs. Missouri State. I’m looking more for some moments that don’t get remembered as often.

Not really favorite but noteworthy memory. An opposing pitcher pitched both left and right handed.

This is really not so much mine as it is for Sarah and a friend, Justin Gage. The newspaper once had seats on the front row near the visitor’s on-deck circle and I might grab two of them from time to time if they weren’t going to be used by advertisers.

Alabama, No. 6 at the time, had a good team. I was sitting with Sarah and Justin for part of the Friday night game. I can’t recall what information Justin had on the Alabama hitters, but he knew details that you’d need a media guide to find. He could say something to get them to turn.

It was a particularly solid Alabama hitting team. The DH was Alex Avila, eventually a MLB catcher. Alabama entered with a 15-6 SEC record.

Most of the Alabama players had long sideburns or beards. Avila had pork chop sideburns that were well developed.

The Hogs won 4-3 in 11 innings. Nick Schmidt and two relievers struck out Avila five times. Justin was on him hard about his sideburns and really all of the Tide hitters. Justin did it softly. He was only a matter of a few feet away from them.

A few of the hitters turned to glare at Justin. The message was consistent, “You guys don’t hit well enough to sport that kind of look.” That may not have been Justin’s direct quote, but it was close.

The next day, they were all clean shaven. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

I was only down there for a half inning. I didn’t want to be there when Justin was asked to leave by an usher and didn’t want to be a part of it (although that didn’t happen). I don’t think Sarah ever said a word, but laughed throughout the game.

Five strikeouts is a pretty bad night. I went to the Alabama website to make sure my recollections were correct. Schmidt pitched seven innings. Brian McClelland pitched two innings and Devin Collis pitched two.

It was advertised as a Friday pitching duel between Schmidt and Wade LeBlanc. Neither of them could find the strike zone. LeBlanc walked seven in six innings. Schmidt walked five in seven innings.

One of the memories came in the 11th when Avila came up to make the final out. The section around Justin and Sarah was paying attention as the strikeouts mounted for Avila and the jabs intensified. Avila took a gentle swipe at Collis’ first pitch to bounce out to the second baseman. The section applauded as Avila came back to the dugout as if to congratulate him for avoiding a sixth straight strikeout.

The Hogs won it on a bases loaded single by Logan Forsythe in the bottom of the inning.

Arkansas swept the series.

I’m called Justin to make sure my memory was correct. He said it all matched up. Sarah added one important tidbit that I had forgotten and Justin didn’t mention. Avila’s five strikeout game was on May 5. It was Cinco de Mayo. The fives lined up and they didn’t let Avila forget it for the rest of the weekend.

Here is a game that stands out to me — the series opener vs. Vanderbilt in 2007. It was billed as a great pitching matchup between David Price and Nick Schmidt, but it was a high-scoring game that was tied 7-7 at the end of nine innings. Then this happened:

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Game: Game three of Super Regional against MO St in 2015.

Play: Matt Vinson scaling the wall to rob an opponent of a HR.

Our tailgate began calling Vinson “Spiderman” after that catch. Unfortunately he was responsible for another term. He had such a hard time getting a hit that I began to refer to the “Vinson line”. Most of us know that the Mendoza line is .200. The Vinson line is .100. The good news for Vinson is that he turned it on late in the year and became a valuable asset by the time the Hogs got to Omaha.

Anyone who was there remembers Toops HR. I well remember that day, because a friend from Wichita was there with his daughter. When we had to vacate the stadium between games, they joined us in the car. In years following I would often be in Wichita in early April for a series of dog shows. Gregg would take me to a WSU game. He was a true fan and encouraged me to attend the CWS. He died several years ago and Wichita dog shows are not the same.

Matt’s memory is one that I remember. DVH was coaching third and he was really cranking that arm.

Another memory that few will have. We played a game after a cold snow. They only cleared a few sections right behind the plate. Even then the fans were few and far between. Wright and I were the only two in the ball park doing the Chicken Dance in the 6th inning.

I can’t begin to tell how many times I needed to wear my “baggie”. I can’t think of a season of baseball without shivering a little.

Sarah gave me some other favorite memories from Baum:

Anytime Scott Hode came to the plate and they played Cab Calloway’s tune. You will go to sleep with it your head now.

Kent Atkins with the spoon as Tyler Spoon hit line drives all over the park. Taking it to Stillwater and having to leave it outside (then passing out plastic spoons) was a part of that.

The two-game series with No. 1 Arizona State. It was as loud for those two games as any I recall.


Matt Cronin leaving the field flashing the inverted hook em horns sign at the UT dugout was enjoyable to a lot of Hog fans.

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Oh, man. So many great memories.

The first one that comes to mind is the ending to that Arkansas-Vanderbilt game with David Price vs. Nick Schmidt that Matt posted the video of above. I was there, and it was just an amazing ending.

The memory of facing Florida State in the super regional in 2004 is still vivid in my mind. Every pitch, every swing of the bat, every catch made…just the tension of those games, which of course turned out great for the Hogs. You felt like you lived and died with every play. It was a full ballpark, and everyone was into those games. As we all know, that year and the success we had was really the birth of what the baseball program is today.

Another memory I have is from earlier that season or maybe the one after when the Hogs were playing Tennessee. That was a time when it was still possible for a group of people to walk up and get tickets in the seats (not the Hog Pen), and a group of probably 10-12 of us went to see the Hogs and Vols play. As I remember it, the left fielder for the Vols was named Eli Orge (I’m not sure of the spelling), and one of the guys in our group started heckling him, singing “Old McDonald had a farm, Eli, Eli, Orge!!” It was good-natured and funny and was probably the result of a bad play he had made, though I don’t remember exactly. (I do miss the days of being able to get a group and get decent seats down the line.)

McCann’s walkoff against LSU (that again, Matt already mentioned) was super sweet because of the trouble we’ve always had with LSU (and because of the fact that a friend who’s an LSU fan was with me and another friend at that game. He just slinked away dejectedly as Hog fans celebrated.)

I remember a big comeback win against South Carolina and (I think) another one against Kentucky in the 9th inning. If memory serves, the Kentucky pitcher suddenly couldn’t find the strike zone, and the combination of walks and hits allowed us to score several runs to beat them for a walk-off win.

Another interesting memory, which is not necessarily Baum-specific, was that several years ago I was listening to us play Alabama on the radio (again, I don’t remember if it was a home game or a game at Alabama), and the Tide changed pitchers. When the new pitcher’s name came across the radio, I sat up immediately (had been laying down listening to it) because it was a very unusual name, and I had taught a student with that same name just a few years earlier. I immediately went to the computer and called up the Tide’s roster, and sure enough, this was the same young man I had taught here in Northwest Arkansas as a middle schooler before he moved to Philadelphia in the middle of the school year. Somehow, he ended up years later pitching for the Tide.

One thing’s for sure. The baseball program has provided a lot of value for the time and money spent following it.

Colin Kuhn’s walk-off homer on Easter Sunday with his mom in stands. She had been fighting cancer.

I was going to mention that. My son and I were there and he was a fan of Kuhn’s. He got a foul ball in batting practice that year and got the entire team to sign it, especially Kuhn. I just found that ball when I unpacked in my new apartment in November. Signatures are unreadable now but they’re there.

Wasn’t that the real high scoring game? I remember having to listen on the radio on the way home from Monett having gone to church with our daughter and the grandkids. We fell behind early giving up a lot of runs.

Seeing Hognoxious sing (solo) the National Anthem before a game at Baum is memorable. I had no idea he could sing.

Of course, Larry Shank was good at that too.

The final was 17-16 and it was one of the weirdest baseball games I’ve ever seen. Kentucky scored the game’s first five runs, Arkansas scored the next 13, then Kentucky scored 11 straight before the grand slam.

Everyone remembers Kuhn’s grand slam, but an equally important play in the inning was Andy Wilkins drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch as a pinch hitter. Wilkins had injured his ankle the day before and could not run. He was in to drive the ball, ideally, but the walk helped set up Kuhn’s game winner.

I think Kuhn and Jacob House are the only players to hit walk-off grand slams at Baum. Some might forget that Toops’ grand slam came in the top of the ninth inning because Wichita State was the home team for that regional game.

House’s grand slam in the series opener against South Carolina in 2008 capped a great game that Arkansas won 12-11. That was fireworks night at Baum and whoever was in charge began setting off the fireworks as House was rounding the bases.

I had forgotten the fireworks going off. One of the things I recall about the McCann home run against LSU is that he was scheduled to give his personal Christian testimony to a group of high school kids after the game. I listened to it because I wanted to talk to James about the game. I ended up getting a whole new perspective of what James was all about. The other player I saw do that during his time as a player was Zack Cox. Those are both impressive people.

Per the video, it wasn’t quite that quick, but it didn’t take long:’

The first fireworks definitely went off while House was still on the base path.

I was sitting in the stands that night with some friends from Texas who were in town for graduation the next day, and I remember watching some fireworks go off as he was running around second base. Our newspaper account said the same thing the next day — that fireworks went off as he was rounding the bases.

This was the start of Rick Fires’ game story:

The fireworks started early Friday night, thanks to Arkansas freshman Jacob House.

House hit a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning to give Arkansas a 12-11 victory over South Carolina at Baum Stadium.

The crowd of 7,116 who attended the game came hoping for an Arkansas victory and to witness a fireworks display after the game, and House provided both with one swing when he drove a pitch from Parker Bangs well over the wall in right field. A few fireworks went off while House rounded the bases, and the rest came after the game to the delight of the crowd.