04 Apr


Twenty years ago, Roy Oswalt, a 25th-round draft pick, began a big league career that stands among the best of any Mississippi-born player. A Holmes Community College alumnus from Weir, Oswalt debuted for Houston on May 6, 2001, working an inning against Montreal. He picked up the first of his 163 career wins on May 14, beating Cincinnati in another relief outing. On June 2, he made his first start and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oswalt would pitch 13 years in The Show, making three All-Star Games, winning an ERA title and leading the Astros to their first World Series berth in 2005. The lean right-hander finished in the top six in Cy Young voting six times. Only one other Magnolia State native, Guy Bush, won more games than Oswalt. Other debut anniversaries of note occurring this season: Ninety years ago, brothers Gee and Hub Walker of Gulfport reached the majors, debuting on back-to-back days in April as the leadoff batter for Detroit. Gee went 1-for-4, Hub 3-for-5. Gee batted .294 over a long career, Hub .263 over a much shorter one. … Seventy years ago, Bob “The Rope” Boyd of Potts Camp and Sam Hairston from Crawford, both former Negro Leagues stars, got their first taste of the majors. Hairston is the patriarch of MLB’s first black three-generation family. … Sixty years ago, Silver City’s Jack Reed broke in with the New York Yankees; he played only 28 games that season but had a front-row seat in September as Roger Maris chased down Babe Ruth’s home run record. … Ten years ago, Louis Coleman, from Greenwood by way of LSU, debuted with Kansas City and went on to post a 3.51 ERA over seven MLB seasons (264 games) as a reliever.