Good mornin’! Good mornin’!
Mine was a Macgregor blue baseball glove that I bought from Western Auto in Indianola. Chris Stauffer still asks me about it. It’s probably still in my boyhood closet hidden with other timeless treasures in my old room. Hot Wheels cars, my gold aluminum bat and my electronic football game – all priceless items that helped mold my youth.
And growing up in the Delta we had a baseball team in Inverness – minor league and little league and later pony league. We traveled to such exotic locales as Isola, Sunflower, Moorhead and Parchman. Yes, the little hamlet that houses the state’s most inhumane criminals. We bought Nabs and cokes in the women’s quarters and for some reason we were never scared. I guess we just didn’t know any better or had faith in the guards’ aim.
We won about as many as we lost, had fun, learned the game and I even made All-Star once at third base though I had been a shortstop before fleet-footed and now Dr. Asa Bennett moved to town. I did once catch a line drive from Moorhead’s Lenny Chisolm that “pert near” burned a hole in my hand. I even pitched but my ERA is not printable due to its hideousness and the number is so large there’s not enough room here. And I remember playing catcher once and only once when my cousin Mark Aycock, a hard throwing left-hander was on the mound when we hosted Parchman. Now some guys went on to play high school and at the moment I can’t recall any that made it to the college level, though while in college I met some Delta guys who were great players. Tony Banks from Greenwood comes to mind. He was a legend and later transferred his skills to the softball field.
But our great state has produced and – by the looks of it today – is mass producing all-star baseball talent – and attracting it. Mississippi State has always been a hotbed for diamond talent. Back in the 1940s, Shaw native Dave “Boo” Ferriss graduated from MSU, got drafted by the Army and the Red Sox and pitched until a shoulder injury ended his career on the mound. So he came home and pulled a Kevin Costner probably before Costner was ever born. He built a baseball field and program in Cleveland at Delta State out of a soybean field. Now the best college player in the state gets a trophy that has Boo’s last name on it. They’ll award that on Monday over at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. There’s a couple of Rebels, a Golden Eagle, a Bulldog and a Statesmen vying for the treasured trophy.
Now as a freelance writer my favorite thing to write about is sports. And I get to track down some legends mixed in with soon to be someday legends from high school to JUCO, Division I, II and III schools. One of my favorites was and still is Jack Reed from Silver City. He went to Ole Miss and played football and baseball and was drafted by the Yankees and backed up Mickey Mantle. He came home to farm and would speak at athletic banquets and get-togethers. He’s the reason I became a Yankees fan. Here’s a link to my feature on him if you’re interested, http://bit.ly/gL2eQQ.
And I could go on and on and on…and on some more if we started trying to list the talent that has come out of the Magnolia State. This site, http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/birthplace.php?loc=Mississippi, has a great list of Mississippi born players.
Nowadays, I have the privilege to cover Delta State baseball. This season they’ve been ranked as the number one team for almost the entire season. Now at 43-9-1, they are playing in the South Regional in Tampa, Fla. in the Division II Championship. It’s a double elimination tournament and the winner gets to go to Cary, NC next week to represent the South Region in the Division II World Series.
DSU plays tonight at 6:00 p.m. CT against West Florida. Yeah, they’ve won the whole thing before – they’ve won a lot since Boo plowed up the bean field. Check out www.gostatesmen.com to listen to their play-by-play and SID main man, Matt Jones.
Oh, how much have they won? This much:
NCAA National Championships: 2004
NCAA Regional Championships: 1968, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2012
Gulf South Conference Championships: 1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2012
Now they aren’t the only school in the state winning these days. In Division III, Millsaps is in the postseason mix. The Majors won the first round Wednesday night but lost in the second round to number four ranked Salisbury, 11-5. So the Majors will be playing today at 7:00 p.m. Let’s get out some rally caps! (Psst – I’m a 7-5/8 fitted). The team is 35-12 now overall – hey, I almost went to school there. If you want to know more about them, check out www.gomajors.com.
And from getting a glimpse at the high school – both private and public – there will be plenty of great talent to keep every school in Mississippi supplied with great talent for years to come.
I know Division I is still in regular season and will soon be working their way to Omaha for their World Series but if you need a good fix for some great baseball, don’t wait – put on some green or grab you some purple and get behind some incredible teams.
If you have a college team that’s doing well, give me the info in the comment section or if you have a favorite player from Mississippi or who may have played at a Mississippi college, I’d like to hear about them too.
Oh, and just one question… “Who You Rootin’ Foh!” And I’d always ‘preciate your comments here or over at Facebook or you can tweet me @markhstowers or click on my name and email me….see yah next week!