Baseball has been ingrained into the fabric of Iowa since it’s earliest days. The game has been played in the state since it’s inclusion into the Union in 1846, but the sport took off like a wildfire after the Civil War, when Iowa’s Union soliders returned home, bringing the game back home from the East Coast.
As towns were settled across Iowa, the first two things most communities built were a church and school, but the third was often a baseball field. Iowa’s town teams became a part of the fabric of Iowa as the state, and the sport, grew up together. Naturally, the state’s love affair with baseball extended to it institutions of higher learning.
Early Iowa State Baseball History
1872 - The popular sports are baseball (for men) and croquet (for both men and women). While Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C.) does not play other schools in baseball, they do occasionally play town teams.
1874 - Baseball is very popular, and there are numerous games played between the Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C.) classes, resulting in sprained and broken fingers, one dislocated jaw, and some smashed teeth (according to the Aurora)
(The cost of a year’s subscription is $1.00 and a single issue cost $.15. The Aurora contains essays, reviews, and musings relating to culture, reading, and science, as well as local notes relating to alumni, the campus, and student activities and life.).
1875 - Baseball continues to be popular, as is croquet.
1878 - An Iowa Agricultural College (I.A.C.) baseball team plays against the “Actives” of Ames, and loses, 33-12.
1882 - In baseball, the College Nine defeats the Ames team by a score of 17-16.
1886 - Football scores include Building v College, 14-11; and a baseball game between the freshman and sophomores results in a sophomore win, 10-9.
1888 - A baseball league is organized with a pennant race between the classes. In the final game, the seniors beat the freshmen, 12-10.
1892 - The Iowa Intercollegiate Baseball League is formed, with representatives from Drake, Grinnell (then known as Iowa College), Iowa State, and the University of Iowa. Iowa State won the first game of the season over the University of Iowa, and the trophy prize selected was a silver bat.
Zanish-Belcher, Tanya. Iowa State University 150 Years of Excellence. History of Iowa Sate: Timeline. 2007. University Archives, Iowa State University. Internet Resource. Accessed Online 7/2/2018.
A Historic Program
While the Cyclones don’t have any National Championships to claim, the program does have two College World Series appearances to their name, including a third place overall finish in 1957. The program has also produced 18 major leaguers, the most successful of the bunch being longtime reliever Mike Myers, best known for his funky sidearm/submarine delivery. When the program was shut down, no school in the Big 12 (at the time) had played more seasons of NCAA baseball.
So what killed Iowa State baseball?
Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, Title IX, geographical placement in southern-centered baseball conference, and a recent lack of success, baseball had to come to an end in May 2001.
Since then Iowa State has sported a club baseball team, which has been quite successful in recent years, compiling a 21-6 record on their way to a conference championship, and a #10 national ranking. The club’s recent success, along with the state’s deep connection to baseball and homegrown talent, have fueled fans’ interest in reviving the NCAA baseball team.
Seemingly asked about the program’s revival at every possible opportunity, Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard has been consistent in his message that reviving the program isn’t in any near or long term plan for the university, due mostly the enormous up-front costs involved. Unfortunately, that Cyclone fans likely won’t be able to cheer on an NCAA Cyclone’s baseball team any time in the near future, if ever again.
If you have any particularly fond memories of the baseball program, please share them below.