New Missouri baseball coach Steve Bieser is no stranger to success at Taylor Stadium.
He led Vianney High, a private school in suburban St. Louis, to Missouri Class 4 state championships on the Tigers baseball team’s home field in 2004 and 2006.
Taylor Stadium is also where Bieser, who coached Vianney from 2004-10 before jumping into the college ranks as a pitching coach and then head coach at Southeast Missouri, dreamed of returning one day.
“We came to Columbia in year No. 1 and won a state championship,” Bieser said. “I knew one day I wanted to be back at this field and coaching on this field.”
Bieser, 48, will get his wish — only now he’ll be coaching Mizzou. He was introduced Friday at sun-splashed Taylor Stadium as Mizzou’s fourth baseball coach since 1937. Bieser replaces Tim Jamieson, who resigned June 11 after 22 seasons.
The Tigers finished 26-30 last season, including a 9-21 record in Southeastern Conference play. The program has endured a rocky transition into the nation’s toughest baseball conference, failing to finish above .500 all four seasons with a 40-80 SEC record.
Bieser — who agreed to a five-year contract worth $300,000 guaranteed annually, a more than 44 percent raise from Jamieson’s $208,080 annual salary — understands Missouri has some inherent disadvantages as the SEC’s northern-most school, but he’s confident the program can flourish.
“The competition in the SEC is what drives me to be here,” he said. “I want to be in the best baseball conference in the country. I want to compete at that level. I want our guys to understand what it’s like to compete at the highest level.
“I’m not intimidated by the SEC. Our players will never be intimidated by the SEC. I can guarantee you that. That’s the mindset that starts from day one and I feel very confident about us being able to compete very early on.”
Bieser, a native of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., played at Jefferson College and Southeast Missouri, where he graduated in 1989 with a degree in mathematics. As a coach, Bieser had a 138-97 record in four seasons with the Redhawks.
Southeast Missouri won the last three Ohio Valley Conference regular-season crowns, going 67-23 as Bieser was twice chosen as the conference coach of the year.
Mizzou athletic director Mack Rhoades hopes he can build a similarly successful program in Columbia.
“We tend to have this attitude or there tends to be this perception that it’s hard to win here at Missouri,” Rhoades said. “Well, it’s hard to win everywhere. I don’t think it’s any harder to win here than any other place, so we’re going to win here. Somebody who believes that we can, I want that person as CEO of the program.”
Bieser’s first priority is assembling a staff, which he’s already put some thought into. He didn’t rule out keeping any of the current staff or bringing members of his Redhawks staff with him.
“The outpour of applicants for this staff the last 24 hours has been unbelievable …” he said. “My responsibility here is to make sure that I put together the best coaching staff possible to make sure that we’re giving our players what they need.”
Bieser, a 32nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 1989, kicked around the minor leagues for 13 seasons. He spent parts of two seasons in the big-leagues, 1997 with the Mets and 1998 with the Pirates, batting .250 in 60 career games.
He’s well aware of the Tigers’ growing pipeline that includes more than 70 draft picks under Jamieson, including 11 players who’ve reached the majors since 2003.
Bieser expects every player at Missouri and recruited to play for the Tigers will harbor professional ambition.
“I know how to get to that level,” Bieser said, “and, using my experiences from playing 13 years professionally and the people and coaches I’ve been with, I think I’ve got a lot of experience and a lot of expertise in knowing what it would take for each individual.”