10 Jul

a derby lament

Disappointing — isn’t it? — that no Mississippians are competing in tonight’s Home Run Derby. Austin Riley (DeSoto Central High) and Brent Rooker (Mississippi State), both in Seattle as All-Stars, are capable of a show of power, not to mention Hunter Renfroe (MSU/Crystal Springs), the active leader in career homers by Mississippi natives. Mississippi’s last representative in the contest was Brian Dozier, the Southern Miss product from Fulton who competed in 2014. The only other natives to participate are Grenada’s Dave Parker (1985 — when he won — and 1986) and Vicksburg’s Ellis Burks (1996). MSU alum Rafael Palmeiro took part in 1998 and 2004. The Magnolia State has produced some legendary sluggers who never got a crack at MLB’s Home Run Derby. It would have been something special to see Luke Easter take his hacks in a home run contest. The Jonestown native hit 93 homers in the 1950s in a short big league stint and another 247 in the minors; he would have been a Statcast hero had he played in the current era. He reportedly hit a 500-foot bomb in Buffalo’s old Offermann Stadium. Another legendary slugger who never got the chance in an MLB derby was Laurel’s Jack Pierce, who had a brief career in The Show. He hit eight big league bombs back in the 1970s but topped 400 overall in pro ball, most of those in the Mexican League. He is in the Hall of Fame there. George Scott, the “Boomer” from Greenville, also had a knack for the long ball, blasting 271 of them in a 14-year MLB career from 1966-79. And then there’s John Lindsey, a renowned masher from Hattiesburg who never got much of a shot in the big leagues. He reportedly belted 377 homers, many of them tape-measure shots, in his long and winding pro career starting in 1995. Maybe someday in the near future we’ll see Southaven’s Blaze Jordan in the Derby; he made a name for himself as a kid winning home run contests at national youth events. Now 20, he is now in the Boston Red Sox’s system, expected to make his Double-A debut this week.

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