Crystal Springs native Hunter Renfroe hit his 26th home run of the season for San Diego on Sunday, the last day of the MLB regular season. That’s an impressive total to be sure. But it’s not the record for homers in a rookie season by a Mississippi native. That belongs to Luke Easter, who hit 28 for Cleveland in 1950 – at the age of 35. Easter, a Jonestown native, was the first black Mississippian to play in the majors, breaking in late in 1949. Greenville native George Scott hit 27 “taters” as a rookie for Boston in 1966. Vicksburg’s Ellis Burks, Mississippi’s all-time home run leader with 352, hit 20 for the Red Sox in 1987, his first year. Worth noting: Renfroe hit four homers in 11 games at the end of the 2016 season but was still classified as a rookie this year. Calhoun native Dave Parker, who launched 339 career bombs, hit just four as a rookie in 54 games for Pittsburgh in 1973. McComb native Corey Dickerson hit 24 homers in 2014, his first full season with Colorado, but he no longer had rookie status. Gulfport’s Bill Melton cracked 23 in 1969 as a first-year regular for the Chicago White Sox, but he had exceeded rookie standards in 1968. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High star, finished the season with 59 stolen bases, one shy of MLB leader Dee Gordon. Hamilton’s last attempt at a 60th bag on Sunday was foiled when the lead runner in a double steal was thrown out in Cincinnati’s win over the Chicago Cubs. Hamilton, with 243 career steals, is the all-time leader among Mississippi natives. … Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart went 0-for-3 to finish at .297 in what was probably his final game with the Reds. Cozart is among a sizable group of Mississippi-connected players headed for free agency, including Lance Lynn, Seth Smith, Mitch Moreland, Jarrod Dyson and Tyler Moore.
The record for home runs by all teams in a major league season likely will be broken today. The current number is 5,677, 16 short of the mark that was set in 2000. Of those 5,677, a total of 175 were hit by Mississippians (natives or college alums). There are 108 players with 20 or more homers – that record should also fall this year – and four of those are Mississippians. Brian Dozier, the ex-Southern Miss standout, leads the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby with 31; he has 73 the last two years. (His ability to drive high fastballs was highlighted by Tom Verducci on MLB Network on Monday night.) Dozier is followed on the Mississippi chart by Corey Dickerson (career-high 26), Zack Cozart (career-high 22) and Hunter Renfroe (21 in his second year). Mitch Moreland is sitting on 19, and Tim Anderson, with 16, could also reach 20. Seth Smith is in double digits with 13, four shy of his career-best. Jarrod Dyson, who had seven career homers in seven previous seasons, hit five in 2017; he is out for the season with an injury. Adam Frazier also has five, one of them an inside-the-park job. (Still counts.) Rookies JaCoby Jones and Stuart Turner hit their first career homers this season. Jones has three all told and Turner two. There also have been a record number of strikeouts in 2017 – for the 10th straight year – and, of course, Mississippians have contributed their fair share of those, as well. Six already have topped the 100 mark, including speed demon Billy Hamilton, who has only four home runs. Indeed, the game has changed.