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Around the Columns

Double double

beau and cliff minx

Cliff, left, and Beau Minx, identical twin brothers who played basketball at MU during the 1943–44 season, turn 92 on Jan. 8, 2012. Photo by Rob Hill

In addition to basketball talent, Beau and Cliff Minx have always possessed keen mathematical skills. Perhaps that’s because the identical twins have spent their lives dividing and multiplying everything by two.

Nearly 70 years after their sneakers squeaked on the Mizzou hardwood, the Minx brothers will return to Columbia for birthday No. 92 on Jan. 8, 2012. Beau and Cliff, both of whom earned bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering in 1944, come back to MU almost annually to catch a game and attend other alumni events, but it would be difficult for the Minx boys of 1940 to recognize today’s campus.

Coming to Columbia was a huge transition from their tiny hometown of Rocola, Mo., in Washington County, a “city” that isn’t on most modern maps. They were raised in a two-room cabin with no electricity or plumbing. Their blacksmith father rode a motorcycle and once tried to transport the children — twins and older sister — to school during a snowstorm. They crashed into a horse-drawn wagon.

“Dad landed on top of the wagon with two of us in the ditch and one in the road,” Cliff says. “That was the last time the four of us rode on a motorcycle.”

Beau and Cliff had no basketball experience when they signed up late in their high school careers, but they caught on quickly. Once, they switched jerseys mid-game so the higher-scoring forward, Cliff (Beau was a guard), could avoid fouling out. When Mizzou Coach George Edwards recruited the twins, their mother borrowed $300 to pay for their rent and one set of books that the boys shared. They worked at Gaebler’s Black and Gold for meals and money, and they were hired as assistant math instructors at MU.

The Tigers finished 9-8 in 1943–44, and the Minx twins led Mizzou to its first NCAA appearance in Kansas City, Mo., where Cliff now resides. Beau lives nearby in Olathe, Kan., and the brothers meet every Wednesday morning for coffee at Fluffy Fresh Donuts.

“[The tournament] was quite an accomplishment because when we got to Missouri, basketball had just changed from a two-handed to a one-handed shot,” Beau says. “I don’t ever remember once fighting with Cliff, but I remember beating Kansas that season.”