Friday, June 9, 2023

Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes: Dual Sport Don Kessinger

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 12.24.46 PMDonald Eulon “Don” or “Donnie” Kessinger, born in 1942 in Forrest City, Arkansas, joins Jake Gibbs as the only athletes in Ole Miss history to make All-America in two sports.

Kessinger was named All-American in baseball and basketball in 1964, his senior year. Amazingly, he was All-Southeastern Conference in both baseball and basketball all three of his varsity seasons. In 1964, he led the SEC in batting average (.429), hits (56) and stolen bases (18). In basketball, he averaged 22.4 points per game for his Ole Miss career and once scored in double figures for 33 consecutive games.

Kessinger could have played professionally in either sport but chose baseball and became a six-time National League All-Star with the Chicago Cubs. In 1969, he set a Major League record by playing 54 consecutive games at shortstop without an error.

He is a member of several other halls of fame, including the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame.

After his years with the north side Cubs, Kessinger played for the Cubs’ rival St. Louis Cardinals in 1976-77, then played and also managed the Chicago White Sox 1977-79. It was during that 1979 season that he was player/manager. Kessinger was the head baseball coach at Ole Miss for six seasons from 1991-96.

His 1995 team advanced to the finals of an NCAA Regional at Florida State, setting a school record for victories in one season with a 40-22 mark. His coaching record with the Rebels was 185-153.


Courtesy of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum director Rick Cleveland, author of Mississippi’s Greatest Athletes. Cleveland can be reached at