On Aug. 28, 1981, Kelvin Moore made his MLB debut for Oakland and went 1-for-4 in a loss to Bobby Ojeda and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Moore’s first game in the big leagues was also the first in The Show for any Jackson State alumnus, a milestone worthy of note during Black History Month. Moore – one of those rare players who threw lefty but batted from the right side — played in 76 games over three seasons for the A’s and hit eight home runs. His debut seemed to open a door for JSU, an historically black school with a modest enrollment. Between 1981 and 1996, eight JSU products reached the major leagues, according to baseball-reference.com, and several had significant careers. The colorful and controversial Oil Can Boyd followed Moore in 1982; he went on to pitch 10 years in the majors. Then came Curtis Ford, Dave Clark (a first-round draft pick), Marvin Freeman, Howard Farmer, Wes Chamberlain and Mike Farmer. Dewon Day, who pitched in 13 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2007, is the only other Tigers alum to make it, an unfortunate sign of the times in MLB, which has seen a decline in the numbers of African-American players in recent years. All nine of the JSU big leaguers were coached by Bob Braddy, a recent inductee into both the College Baseball and Mississippi Sports Halls of Fame. Among SWAC schools, only Southern University, with 16, has produced more big leaguers than JSU. (Day played for both schools.) … The Tigers, now coached by Omar Johnson and coming off a 38-17 season, open their 2018 campaign tonight at the University of New Orleans and will then host Mississippi State at Braddy Field on Wednesday. Among the current Tigers, third baseman Jesus Santana and outfielder Lamar Briggs may have pro potential.
Did you know that Rust College has produced one and only one professional baseball player? His name is Otis Edwards; he played one season in the minors in 1991. Stumbled across this fascinating bit of data on the wonderful web site baseball-reference.com. Atop the list of most pro players produced by a Magnolia State college is Mississippi State, with 196, including 49 major leaguers. Ole Miss is second (at 193 and 48), Southern Miss third (109/23) and Jackson State fourth (62/9). The rest: Delta State 47/10, William Carey 39/1, Mississippi Valley State 21/0, Alcorn State 16/1, Mississippi College 15/7, Belhaven 10/0 and Millsaps 8/4. More on Edwards: Undrafted out of NCAA Division III Rust, he signed with Cleveland and played 29 games at the rookie and short-season Class A levels, batting .152 with seven RBIs, eight runs and three steals. He also pitched a scoreless inning for Burlington of the rookie Appalachian League. The one Carey player to make The Show? John Stephenson, the ex-Crusaders coach. The one Alcorn player? Al Jones, a pitcher in the mid-1980s. … Stumbled across a couple more interesting items in the July/August issue of Baseball Digest. To wit: Don Kessinger was a six-time All-Star and a career .252 hitter with 1,931 hits over 16 years in the majors. But as a pinch hitter, he was 0-for-37, the worst drought of any player in MLB history with at least 20 pinch-hit appearances. Kessinger did draw four walks as a pinch hitter, but still, it makes you wonder, when he reached 0-for-36, why in the world did his manager send him up there again? Also on the list of pinch-hit futility: former Jackson Mets standout Stanley Jefferson, who was 1-for-32. Then there’s this: The dubious distinction of worst-hitting Gold Glove winner in any season belongs to Greenville native George Scott. “Boomer” hit .171 as the Boston Red Sox’s first baseman in 1968, his third year in the big leagues. Scott, a career .268 hitter with 271 home runs, won eight Gold Gloves over his lengthy career. P.S. The current issue of Sports Illustrated (July 27) has a cool photo essay and brief article on the Anderson Monarchs’ Civil Rights Barnstorming Tour that made a stop for a game at Jackson State’s Braddy Field last month. The 23-day, multi-state trip was a living history lesson for the Philadelphia (Pa.) area youth team, which included 2014 Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis. It’s unclear whether any of the pictures were taken in Mississippi.