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Remembering Cliff Shanks

Cliff Shanks at Auburn in 1993. Photo courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
Cliff Shanks at Auburn in 1993.
Photo courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame

Cliff Shanks, part of one of Mississippi’s well-known sports families, died unexpectedly at his home in Pascagoula Saturday night. He was 41.

Cliff is the son of long-time SEC football official Don Shanks and the grandson of Fred Shanks, who was Boo Ferriss’s catcher at Mississippi State. Doug Shanks, Cliff’s uncle, is the head baseball coach at Mississippi Valley State and was primarily responsible for bringing the Dizzy Dean Museum to Jackson when he was a city commissioner.

Cliff Shanks was an all-state catcher at Clinton High under Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Doug Hutton, then signed to play baseball at Ole Miss. After one season at Ole Miss, Cliff transferred to Lassen College in California where he was a junior college All-American. He then transferred to Auburn where he played one season (1993) for highly respected coach Hal Baird.

Shanks hit .391 for Auburn, making All-SEC and All-Region teams and leading the Tigers with 49 runs scored and 46 runs batted in.

Baird was shocked to learn of Shanks’ death Monday morning.

“To be honest, Cliff was a huge part of us turning around the Auburn program,” Baird said. “We had two mediocre seasons before he got there, but in 1993 we only lost one SEC series and went to the NCAA tournament. Cliff was Mr. Clutch. He got big hit after big hit all season long.

“He was a great kid, popular with his teammates and his coaches,” Baird continued. “Cliff loved to have fun off the field, but he was tough as nails between the lines. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Cliff Shanks concluded his collegiate career at William Carey University, where he hit 14 home runs as a senior and received his BS degree.

“He was just a ballplayer,” Carey coach Bobby Halford said. “He loved to compete and he loved to play ball. He did everything we asked of him here at Carey.”

Cliff played professional baseball with the Class A Butte (Mont.) Copper Kings of The Pioneer League.

At the time of his death, he was employed with the Bailey Lumber Company in Ocean Springs. — Rick Cleveland, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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