By Adam Brown
Ole Miss Baseball retired the number “11” of former player and coach Don Kessinger on Thursday night prior to the start of its series against LSU.
Kessinger’s number will be placed on the outfield wall at Swayze Field alongside Jake Gibbs’ number 41.
Kessinger, who played shortstop, had a batting average .436 batting average in 1964 with a .400 overall career average in college.
“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the gesture,” Kessinger said to HottyToddy.com. “When I think of all the great players that have played here, I am honored to be joining Jake Gibbs as the only ones to have our numbers retired. It just seems unreal. I will always be an Ole Miss Rebel.”
After his career at Ole Miss ended, Kessinger played 16 years in the Major Leagues after being signed by the Chicago Cubs. Kessinger made his debut for the Cubs on Sept. 7, 1964, and spent nine seasons with the team.
“He is getting his number retired because is one of the greatest players to play here,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “He was a superstar here for Ole Miss and (had) a superstar professional career as well.”
Kessinger also played for the Saint Louis Cardinals (1976-77), then later went back to Chicago to play for the White Sox, who he later managed in 1979.
During his major league career, Kessinger was awarded as a six-time All-Star and two-time Golden Glove winner. Kessinger played 56 consecutive games without committing an error.
In 1991, Kessinger came back to coach the Rebels for six seasons with four 30-game win seasons. His 1995 club made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1977 team that finished with a 40-22 record.
“When I got here in 2000, and he was still working here in the athletic department, he came over and was so kind to me,” Bianco said.
Now, Kessinger’s number will be on the outfield wall so that fans can recognize his impact on Ole Miss.