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Florida State football: Explaining the spiked baseball shutout tradition

Story time with Frank.


This article was originally published on September 30, 2010, but due to a lack of sports, the Tomahawk Nation Editors felt this would be a good time to reprint this from the TN vault. It’s been updated with all of Florida State’s shutouts since.


At some point after FSU’s 31-0 shutout of Wake Forest, Chip Baker, a long time FSU football fan went into his garage or to some other secret location, grabbed a brand new baseball, placed it into a vice, grabbed a hammer, and began hammering a spike nail into the baseball’s cowhide cover.

Then early Monday morning, a long-standing tradition that has been in place since 1993 was rekindled when Baker, who is also FSU’s director of baseball operations, together with Jimbo Fisher, went to Mark Stoops’ office and presented Stoops the baseball with the spike nail driven halfway through it.

This tradition signifies the defense had just “nailed” a shutout. The shutout of Wake was the first one under the new staff, the first since the 69-0 2008 season opener against Western Carolina, the Noles first shutout of an ACC opponent since hanging a 33-0 loss on Virginia in 2006, and FSU’s first ACC opener by shutout since blanking North Carolina 37-0 in 2003.

You might be wondering how this little known tradition got started. According to Baker, the tradition started right after the Seminoles’ shutout Kansas 42-0 in the 1993 Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, NJ. Baker said he was inspired after witnessing one of college football greatest goal line stands. During that game, the ‘Noles stuffed the Jayhawks 11 consecutive times from inside the 10 yard line preventing them from scoring a touchdown. Baker said that after that game is when he decided to expand the baseball tradition to the football team. If you’ve never seen this amazing goal line stand by the ‘Noles, I urge you to watch this classic performance right here.

Florida State Seminoles versus Kansas Jayhawks great goal line stand.

After the defense pitched their first shutout under his regime against Wake Forest, Mark Stoops accepted the game ball from Jimbo Fisher in the locker room after the game on Saturday. On Monday he picked up another first, his first shutout “ball of distinction” from Baker, who continued the tradition which has carried over from former defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews tenure to commemorate a shutout. For 17 years Baker presented Mickey Andrews with a spiked baseball after shutting out an opponent, and now this tradition was rekindled Monday morning, and is one that all of FSU’s football and baseball coaches, as well as all the fans, would like to see done many more times.

Monday after first meeting with Fisher, who coincidentally had just ended a phone call with Mickey Andrews (he called Jimbo to offer his congratulations), Baker and Fisher then strolled to Stoops’ office to present him the baseball with a spike nail driven half way through it, inscribed with the date and the two teams final score.

”It was really good. I remember Mickey (Andrews, former defensive coordinator) had a whole roomful of those suckers in there,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a ways to go to catch him. … It’s one of the great traditions at Florida State.”

For years, when an FSU pitcher ‘’nails’’ a shutout he is given a baseball bearing the date and score, with a spike nail hammered halfway into the ball. So when FSU’s stingy 1993 football defense earned national awe, Baker began presenting Andrews an inscribed, nail-impaled baseball with each shutout.

The first came after the Kickoff Classic shutout of Kansas in 1993. Baker decided to give Andrews a spiked baseball for “nailing the shutout.” Baker mistakenly thought the gesture would be a one shot deal and that is where it would end. He would soon learn differently.

Two weeks later, after Shutting out Clemson 57-0, a player asked Baker if the coach would get another spiked ball, Baker obliged, again still not expecting a tradition to be born.

Then two weeks after that, FSU recorded their second straight shutout at home, a 51-0 shellacking of Georgia Tech. GT was coincidentally where Baker had been an assistant baseball coach before leaving to become an assistant baseball coach for Florida State, and where he learned from his mentor about the practice of giving a spiked ball to reward the team for a shutout. Once again, Baker drove a spike nail through the ball and presented it to Andrews.

Fast forward another 3 weeks when FSU spanked Wake Forest 54-0, and now the tradition was firmly in place. There were now 4 spiked balls sitting on a shelf along the top of one wall in Andrews office, one for each shutout during that fabulous first National Championship year, to honor one of the greatest FSU defenses in our short history.

The next shutout did not occur until the next October (1994) at home against Clemson, 17-0. Then it would take another 2 years (Sept 28, 1996) to record another shutout, this one against North Carolina 13-0, in a game not as close as the score indicates due to a dominate FSU defensive performance. After receiving the spiked ball from Baker, a jubilant Andrews said, “We had four shutouts in ‘93, but we haven’t had much reason to shore up that shelf lately.”

Today, there are 14 now-yellowed, and one brand new bright white spiked baseballs signifying shutouts “nailed” by some excellent FSU defensive performances still sitting on that shelf in the defensive coordinators office. Here is a list of the other 9 shutouts recorded by those stifling Nole defensive teams.

10/04/97: Miami, 47-0 (Due to the significance of this win, Baker drove the spike nail through 2 baseballs)

10/18/97: Georgia Tech, 38-0

10/17/98: Clemson, 48-0

09/23/00: Louisville. 31-0

08/30/03: North Carolina, 37-0

11/01/03: at Notre Dame, 37-0 (Baker felt this was a special game so he sprinkled the ball with gold glitter)

11/04/06: Virginia, 33-0

09/06/08: Western Carolina, 69-0

09/25/10: Wake Forest, 31-0

09/03/11: Louisiana-Monroe, 34-0

10/29/11: Boston College, 34-0

09/08/12: Savannah State, 55-0 (technically this game was called before it finished, so a spiked baseball has not been confirmed.)

09/15/12: Wake Forest, 52-0

10/05/13: Maryland, 63-0

09/18/15: Boston College, 14-0

11/28/15: Florida, 27-0 (technically two points, but straight from the source’s mouth, Mr. Baker reserves the right to “do whatever he wants to do.”

Here is another piece of history about Chip Baker from the Orlando Sentinel that some of you may or may not know.

Chip Baker

The Biggest Save in Baseball History

February 8, 2001

FSU assistant baseball coach Chip Baker sits in the lap of a dead bus driver and navigates a runaway bus across two lanes of freeway traffic and onto the shoulder of the road. All 35 team members aboard are unharmed. This might be the biggest save in baseball history. .

Florida State University’s baseball team avoided catastrophe when two coaches wrestled control of the Seminoles’ speeding bus after the driver died suddenly of an apparent heart attack.

The incident took place along Highway 101 several miles north of San Francisco International Airport. The Seminoles, in the Bay area to play Stanford University, were traveling at 70 mph when they saw the bus driver slump over the steering wheel.

With the bus speeding along in the far left lane of the multilane highway, head coach Mike Martin took the driver’s foot off the gas pedal while third base coach Chip Baker sat in the dead man’s lap and steered the stick-shift vehicle to the road’s shoulder. A player then called 911 on a cell phone.