27 Mar

what’s in a name

When you peruse the Mississippi Valley State baseball roster, the first name that jumps out is Willie Mays, who is no relation to the Hall of Famer. But the keen-eyed observer with a sense of Mississippi baseball history will also notice Curtis Ford, who is, in fact, the son of the Jackson native and former big leaguer of the same name. The younger Ford, a sophomore second baseman, is a “mirror image” of his father, said Valley coach Doug Shanks. The younger Ford is slightly smaller than his dad at 5 feet 8, 150 pounds and bats right-handed, not lefty. But the baseball skills are comparable, Shanks said. Shanks coached the older Ford with the youth-league Jackson 96ers back in the early 1980s. The older Ford, an outfielder, played at Jackson State and put in several years in the big leagues, most with the St. Louis Cardinals. The father, who now lives in St. Louis, contacted Shanks last year about a possible spot for his son. “Just because of his bloodlines I took him,” Shanks said. The younger Ford, who “can roll out of bed and hit a fastball,” might be a better player someday than his father. Shanks said he has good hands, an improving arm and will hit with more pop as he matures physically.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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