The Border War, Part One: A History

Posted by cwilliams on February 1st, 2012

Each collegiate rivalry is encompassed by a rich history. Many date back over 100 years, and each rivalry has its unique moments, stories and anecdotes. However, no rivalry coincides with American history as much as the Missouri-Kansas rivalry, known simply around those parts as the Border War. The cities of Lawrence, Kansas, and Columbia, Missouri, have despised each other for as long as anyone can remember, but not in a way similar to the dislike between Columbus, Ohio, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Kansans and Missourians loathed each other due to state political and social views, not because of football scores. The Border War is so rich with history that I thought it would be best to briefly touch on many of these spectacular moments, instead of focusing on just one.

Hide Ya Kids, Hide Ya Wife, the Border War is Coming this Weekend. (Mizzou Magazine)

  • The initiation of the rivalry began around the 1850s, when Kansas and Missouri began burning down each other’s border cities during the Civil War. That’s right. Kansas residents would cross the border and burn down a Missouri city before heading home for supper, and vice versa. The tension reached it’s pinnacle when William Quantrill and his guerrilla forces rode into Lawrence and burned down parts of that city, ultimately murdering 200 people. Ironically, Quantrill was part of a group who attempted to burn down Columbia as well, because it was a Union stronghold during the Civil War. After the war, the athletic matches between Kansas and Missouri served as relief funds for the state’s recovery from the Civil War.
  • Former Missouri hoops coach Norm Stewart refused to let his team’s busses stop in Kansas for fuel or allow his players to eat in Kansas. He didn’t want to put a single Missouri penny into the Kansas economy. On the Red and Blue side, former Jayhawk football coach Don Fambrough once refused to see a doctor in Kansas City, Missouri, stating “I’ll die first!”
  • The first time Kansas and Missouri met on the football field was Halloween 1891. They hit the hardwood for the first time together in 1906, a 34-31 Missouri triumph.
  • In 1910, legend has it that when a brawl broke out between a Kansas and Missouri basketball players during a game, Kansas’s James Naismith exclaimed “Oh my gracious! They are ruining my game!” For anyone born under a rocker, Naismith is attributed with the creation of basketball.
  • In 1961, this happened. Afterward, Kansas athletic director Dutch Lonborg suggested that the schools discontinue the rivalry. A few weeks later when the teams met again, another fight broke out. It is believed that the tension was created by a controversial Kansas football victory earlier that year.
  • In 1972, Missouri was contending for a Big Eight title while the Jayhawks were having a rebuilding season. However, in the final game of the regular season, Jayhawk Bud Stallworth dropped 50 points on the Tigers as Kansas upset Missouri, 93-80.
  • In 1989, Missouri went into Allen Fieldhouse and walloped the Jayhawks, 91-66. This is the largest victory by any visiting team to Allen Fieldhouse.
  • In 1995, Kansas became the first visiting team to score 100 points in Missouri’s Hearnes Center, beating the Tigers 102-89.
  • During the 1997 season, in what some have called the greatest Border War basketball game ever,Missouri upset the undefeated Jayhawks, 96-94, in double overtime.
  • In 2006, Christian Moody‘s free throws happened. 
  • In 2009, after three years of Kansas dominating Missouri, the Tiger basketball squad experienced a resurgence. Hosting Kansas on Big Monday, the Tigers upset the Jayhawks on a last second shot by Zaire Taylor, and one of the weaker court rushes I’ve ever seen occurred. 

There you have it. While I’ve examined the past of this rivalry today, I’ll examine it’s current state and future tomorrow. Could this be the last season of Border War? Let’s hope not.

cwilliams (48 Posts)


Share this story

Leave a Reply