On June 14, the Texas Playboys from Austin, Tex., will be in Oxford to play the Mississippi Flood in the first game between the two teams—in a “sandlot” baseball game at the Oxford-University Stadium on the Ole Miss campus.
In March, the Playboys’ ex-pat Mississippian teammates reached out to Oxford friends and pitched that Oxford form a team for them to play. As soon as Oxford got confirmation they would be coming, Oxford found their managers: Slade Lewis, Carol Mockbee, David Swider, and Stephen Hedges (all of Oxford) and hit the ground running recruiting. And decided on a name: The Mississippi Flood (once the Ole Miss team name briefly before we were the Rebels). The team also formed a booster club called the Life Jackets to be the “backbone of the team.”
The team consists of former junior college players, Ole Miss players, minor and major league players, record store owners, farmers from the Delta, lawyers, teachers, and writers.
“We’re a mix-matched team from Oxford, the Delta, and Jackson, “ said Carol Mockbee, who orchestrated the event. Our team of 30, is excited and ready to join the sandlot movement—or ‘sandlot revolution’ as the Texans call it—and bring it to Mississippi,” Mockbee said.
So what is this and what is the “sandlot revolution?” To get a better idea, read this excerpt from the latest Garden & Gun issue covering this idea and the Playboys:
“This is the ethos of American sandlot baseball, a community-based, slightly makeshift sporting tradition that [Jack] Sanders has been helping to revive across the South. At least in its contemporary form, sandlot baseball—as distinct from other adult baseball and softball leagues—is what Sanders calls ‘the slow food of sports.’ The game has an old-world feel: Teams make their own uniforms and stick to wooden bats. Whereas conventional adult amateur ball orients itself toward the fantasy of the big leagues, sandlot baseball is concerned with the party behind the backstop—where there’s usually music, barbecue, and a steady supply of suds. Above all, sandlot ball is not earnest or particularly competitive, but loose and easy.”
“We’re telling the Texans ‘good luck getting over the bridge into Mississippi,’” said Mockbee. The Texas Playboys have now played teams in Marfa, Texas; New Orleans; and Florence, Alabama, but the Mississippi Flood believes they will up the ante for “sandlot” baseball. The team leaked some news to the Texas Playboys that they have two left-handed pitchers that were former Dodgers, just to give them an idea that while this is all fun and games, the Flood also wants to win.
“But we’re also making sure our guests will have a great time in Oxford and the surrounding areas,” Mockbee said. “We’ve planned a night in the Delta that includes Po’Monkeys and the Shack Up Inn. While in Oxford the team will also be indulging in all of the local cuisine and capping off the weekend after the game with a catered meal by Taylor Grocery Catfish.
The game will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 14 at the Oxford-University Stadium at the University of Mississippi, and admission is free. Clarissa Romano, a graduate of the Ole Miss MFA program will be singing the National Anthem, and Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro will be throwing the first pitch.
Texas Playboy team member Phil Petrignani will be performing the night before the game, Friday the 13th, as part of his duo Los Dos, in a showcase with Oxford’s Moon Pie Curtis and Jackson’s Mark Roemer.
For more information on joining the club, email Carol Mockbee at firstname.lastname@example.org.